Industry: Veterinary Medicine
Location: General Boston Area, MA
Salary/Benefits: $85,000/year straight salary + 2 weeks vacation + 1 week sick time + $2500/year CE allowance + health insurance for $320/month + steep discounts on pet care
Employer Type: “Corporate light”- a large private company owns the veterinary clinic, but I work directly under a Chief of Staff and a practice manager. There are also 2 other associate veterinarians (the Chief of Staff is also a vet).
Employer Size: Many clinics. There are 4 doctors and 18 people at my clinic.
How Long in Current Position: 8 months- I am a “new grad” as this is my first job out of school and I’ve been there less than a year
Highest Level of Education: DVM, which is doctorate level
Path to This Job: I took AP classes in high school. This allowed me to graduate from undergraduate college in 3 years instead of 4. My last year of college, I applied to vet school in the fall, did interviews over the winter, then started vet school in August. Vet school was 4 years. I interviewed the winter/spring of my last year, graduated in May, then started work less than 2 weeks later at the start of June. I picked this field because I love medicine and animals, and wanted a job that wasn’t a desk job and where I wouldn’t get bored.
A typical day at work:
Each day the appointments vary greatly, and some days I have surgeries and dentistry. This day I was closing, so I worked until 7:30 instead of 5 or 6 PM. Also, this was a slow day- usually I see more appointments than this!
7:00am: Wake up, feed the cat. Shower and get ready for the day. Give my rats their morning meds, eat breakfast.
8:30am: Leave for work.
8:45-8:50am: Arrive at work. Greet my coworkers, check the day’s schedule. Go through my morning labs quickly- a stack of charts with bloodwork and other test results from the previous few days. I don’t have time to call each client, fill meds, etc. right now but this allows me to check early on anyone that is very sick I might need to make an appointment for this day, see any other urgent notes, and so on.
9:00am: My first appointment comes in. The receptionists put them in a room, where my technician goes in and get a history (why are they here today, any concerns, etc). The technician comes out to get me and gives me the story.
9:10am: Both of us or just me goes into the room to talk to the owner, examine the pet, decide on testing, etc. I will bring the pet with me if they need bloodwork, a quick ultrasound, x-rays, etc. Meds are filled in the pharmacy while the client goes to the waiting room, checks out, and schedules a next appointment if needed. My first appointment is a recheck ear infection. Ear swabs are taken, smeared on a microscope slide, stained, then examined under the microscope. We continue the current treatment for 2 more weeks as it is much improved but not completely resolved.
9:20am: My second appointment is here. It is a bird with an upper respiratory infection. The owner thinks something might be stuck in her nose. Some time is spent talking with the owner about husbandry, snuggling the bird, taking a few pictures, and then taking the bird out back for a sinus flush. Bird is returned looking better already. Antibiotics are filled and a recheck in 2 weeks is scheduled.
9:55am: In between appointments, a technician carries over a Great Dane puppy to say hello as he is here for a “technician appointment” to only receive a vaccine and not have a full visit. My colleague saw him a week ago when he was sick. Everyone is happy he is doing well and making a fuss over him.
10:00am: Third appointment, 3 hamsters owned by a pet store are dropped off. They have been getting in tons of sick hamsters lately. One is deceased on arrival, one in very rough shape, the last is still quite sick but better. Called the veterinary team for the pet store. Euthanize the sick one, care for the less sick one. The company does not authorize hospitalization, but I can hold onto him for the afternoon before an employee comes to pick him up later. Give him fluids and antibiotics, put him in a warm incubator. The bottle of sugar syrup I am using to make up liquid hamster medication from sprays everywhere. Sneak upstairs to change scrubs.
11:00am: Fourth appointment, a family with 2 dogs for their yearly exam. They are both doing well, but one tries to bite me when I go to touch her so I have my technician come in and give her a “hug”. Each dog gets bloodwork.
11:50am: Having finished my morning appointments, I go to check on the hamster. He is now just laying at the bottom of the incubator. I mentally prepare for him to not make it, but have already given him all of the medications and treatments I can.
12:00pm: Lunch time! I collect all of my labs and charts from this morning’s appointments, as I haven’t had time to write most of them up. Bring them up to my desk, where I make food, goof off on my phone for a few minutes, chat with my coworkers, write up my charts from the morning, and call a few owners with lab results or to ask how they’re doing. I don’t finish all this.
12:30pm: My technician comes upstairs to tell me she thinks the hamster’s passed away. I come down and confirm, then call the pet store to let them know. They ask to be faxed the bill, and will come by to pick up the now 3 deceased hamsters. I write up their charts, update charges in the computer, and give printouts to my technician to fax over.
12:50pm: Back at my desk, working. Also ask another doctor a question about some lab work, get a test result the lab put under the wrong patient, and discuss a medication refill request.
1:00pm: Next appointment is here! Will finish charts later!
1:05pm: A young dog with a red, uncomfortable eye with discharge. Find conjunctivitis. Use a special stain to check for corneal abrasions, lacerations, or ulcers. Get some eye ointment together, show the owner how to apply the medication, schedule a recheck in 1 week. Owner is super grateful to be fit in today and that her dog is ok.
1:40pm: A rabbit foster owner calls saying she found a bite wound on him from when another rabbit accidentally escaped and bit him 2 days ago. She thinks it will need stitches. I block off an hour of my schedule- thankfully I have time as today is a relatively slow day- in case the rabbit needs to be sedated.
1:45pm: Limping dog. He is tense and hard to examine so it’s difficult to nail down the problem. I think his knee is painful but cruciate ligament is not torn, so I send him home for 2 weeks of rest and anti-inflammatory pain medication. The owners do not want to do x-rays or tick-borne disease testing today (which can cause lameness).
2:20pm: Injured rabbit is here. He is a very sweet rabbit, one of my favorites. He has an inch-long open wound that is getting infected on one leg. I take him out back to numb, clip, flush out, and then coat with antibiotic cream. I send him home on oral antibiotics, pain medication, antibiotic cream, and a recheck later in the week. Thankfully it does not need to be sutured so he does not need to be sedated.
3:00pm: My colleague is running behind and I have some free time, so I see her limping puppy appointment. This is a healthy puppy limping for 3 months. We do x-rays which are unremarkable, pull blood for a tick-borne disease test, and send home anti-inflammatory pain medication to be used for 2 weeks while resting. I will call when the test results come in. The x-rays will also be reviewed by an expert to be sure, so I submit the online form for that and make sure the actual images upload properly in the computer.
4:00pm: Recheck eye appointment, recurrent conjunctivitis. The dog wasn’t much improved on just antibiotic so I switched to an antibiotic + steroid. Recheck in 1 week.
4:40pm: Done with this appointment, spend more time catching up on charts and labs.
5:00pm: Very old cat with suspect UTI. Find new heart murmur. Client can’t afford bloodwork (suspect kidney problems) or a heart test ($50 add-on) so will prioritize urinalysis. Check bladder with ultrasound to look for bladder stones or cancer. Attempt to get a urine sample with a needle using the ultrasound- bladder is too small. Send the client home with plastic litter to collect a sample at home.
6:00pm: Unfilled appointment! Finish calls, labs, charts, etc.
6:40pm: New puppy appointment, an adorable baby Frenchie. We go over everything (diet, behavior, flea/tick/heartworm preventatives, scan his microchip, discuss ear cleaning, nail trimming and tooth brushing, etc) and do a vaccine. They will return in 3-4 weeks for his next vaccines.
7:20pm: New puppy leaves. I write up his chart, send them a welcome-to-the-practice card as they are a new client, and finish up things for the evening.
7:35pm: Leave work. Since today was relatively slow, I’m leaving with my coworkers, instead of staying past 8 PM writing up the afternoon’s charts and finishing labs!
READERS, SUBMIT YOUR DAY: The Career Files Submission Form
If you enjoyed this day in the life of a veterinarian, check out our other day in the life posts here