I was followed by a high school junior today who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She told me that she has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a tiny little girl, that she loves animals, and that she wants to do something to make the world a better place. She said (and I quote) that "If she could help one sick animal, it would make her worlds happier."
It broke my heart a little.
Not because veterinary medicine isn't a great thing to do, but because of her starry-eyed naivete. It's ok to be naive at 16. Who isn't?? I look back at my 16 year old self and cannot believe that we are the same person.
Still, I wanted to tell her about the realities of veterinary medicine - the financial burden of vet school loans, the horrible cases of negligence and ignorance, the difficulty of making people understand that veterinarians have to eat too, the gut-wrenching feeling when euthanizing a sick or injured animal. I wanted to tell her that to be a veterinarian, you must be a social worker, a financial counselor, a psychologist, a minister/spiritual leader, a teacher, and a doctor - all rolled into one. Oh, and by the way, you'd better like working with people, because if you can't work with people - you'll be hated by your technicians, fellow doctors, and most importantly, your clients.
Then I thought about how much I genuinely love what I do, the satisfaction I get from a day like today - steady with patients, no tragic euthanasias, and clients following my recommendations, and the rush I feel when I really, truly save a patient, and I know that there is nothing else I would rather be doing.
How do you convey that to a 16 year old?
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