"When I grow up, I want to be a vet!" I hear it all the time and it's never a surprise. I have a great job! I get to spend my days with dogs and cats. But you may be surprised to know that isn't quite the reason why I became a vet.
In fact, I became a vet because I wanted more time to interact with people. People, not pets!
When I graduated from college, it never occurred to me to become a vet. I hadn't even considered it. I was planning to be a professor, so away I went to work on a PhD in molecular microbiology. One of the best programs in the nation was at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, so in three weeks I graduated from college, got married, and moved to Wisconsin!
I started graduate school and began researching the molecular signals that are necessary for a relationship between a certain species of bacteria, and the nematode (tiny worm) it lives inside, as well as the insects it kills. Exciting stuff! I'm serious!
The part I didn't like was how little interaction I had with other human beings. Sure, I had great labmates. But sitting at the bench, staring at test tubes, pipetting clear fluids into other clear fluids got a little dull.
Eventually, Matt and I adopted the most wonderful dog in the history of dogs. His name was Jones and, like all good new dog owners, we took him to puppy classes. One thing lead to another, and we started teaching puppy classes. The more I became involved in dog training, the more I realized I needed a career that allowed me to blend my knowledge of science with my love of animals. But the piece I really loved about training dogs was working with their humans.
Veterinary medicine is a lot like dog training. So much of what I do involves working with you, the dog's owner, to ensure I understand what is really going on and to ensure you understand how we are going to make things better.
Occasionally I'll meet a kid or even young adult who wants to become a veterinarian because "I don't want to work with people." I quickly tell them that's the best part of my job - working with people! Don't get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE my patients. But without their caring humans, my job would be so much less rewarding!