Who to ask?

Who should you ask to find out ‘what’s it like being a vet’?

Your Mum just finished reading this book about Being a Vet in the 21st Century and she told you last night she’s a bit worried. She knows you’ve decided to be a vet – of course!. But she’s just realized she has never really had the conversation with you. She asked you if you knew what’s it like being a vet. Really…

Being very sensible, you have realized Being a Vet in the 21st Century may be just fear-mongering – and it’s all a bit boring anyway.
But Mum looked worried last night – so maybe you should show her you have tried to find out a bit more about vetting.

Who should you ask?

 You don’t much like the idea of actually talking to someone. Who should you ask? And how?
Email might do it. Or link up with some guys online?
You can’t get Mum to do it for you – that’s not the point.

So. Who to ask?

Should you ask someone who wants you to be a vet?

Someone who wants you to be a vet can give you an idea maybe. But remember to make a list of their answers. And don’t only ask one of the people listed below.

● How about asking the vet at the practice just down the road. She’d be honest right? She wouldn’t avoid telling you the truth in order to save face – would she? She wouldn’t just say pleasant stuff to avoid upsetting you or her work colleagues (if they overhear you talking). She wouldn’t just say ‘it’s a great job’ to try and bolster her own self image?

● Who else wants you to be a vet? Try asking that very impressive PhD teacher at the university open day looked like she always told the truth.
Yes. Universities want you to be a vet because they make so much money from your student fees, government funding, and from student accommodation charges, on-campus shop rents – that sort of thing.
The University business can also borrow more money if they are seen to have full and successful courses. So all those smiling faces become a bit less believable.

● Ah! The students training at university then. They’ll tell you what it’s like. For sure.  They are 2 or 3 years older than you. And they made it to vet school!! So they must be amazing. You must be so jealous. Just look at those prom photos! But, thinking about it, maybe they aren’t going to be too honest either. If they were a bit disenchanted about their vet course, they’d end up looking like losers if they admitted it wasn’t what they expected:

Not many vets students drop out during the course – perhaps because it took so much effort by them and their family to get them there in the first place. It would be like a slap in the face to admit it was a wrong decision.

● OK. The Royal College of Vet Surgeons (RCVS) then. Or the British Veterinary Association (BVA). They must have a more balanced view surely? Yes I’m sure you know the RCVS makes three or four hundred pounds from every vet. Every year. And fees for higher certification.

● The BVA then? The BVA President was recently quoted in the Vet Times as saying the answer to the oncoming and significant UK vet shortage would be mitigated by opening more universities, and by increasing student numbers. So the BVA wants you to be a vet – obviously.

[A small aside here. I wonder if the BVA have considered reducing the loss of newly qualified vets from the profession instead? Perhaps by encouraging more realistic student expectations; and offering newvets better support; and etc. Rather than just pouring more vets into a leaky bucket, it may be better to plug the holes. Just a thought.]

● Gerald next door knows a vet who works at MegaGixoPfeifferCorp. They make tablets. Maybe he can tell you some stuff about research and why he isn’t a proper vet anymore. Gerald’s friend probably doesn’t have an ‘axe to grind’ – so he may be able to shed some light. Except the Vet Industry wants you to be a vet too I guess. It’s how they make their money.

So who doesn’t actively want you to be a vet.

Who would be able to offer you a counter-balance to all those smiling and happy faces on the vet-marketing photos?

● An obvious person to ask would be one of those vets who have left the profession within a few years of qualifying from university. Someone who chased their dream for 10 to 12 years, and then dropped it after a few years in the job. They would have an interesting story to tell.
I’m not sure how you would find them. Maybe the RCVS would know who they are – they probably soon stop paying their subs.

● Your Mum and Dad should be even-handed with their opinions. But they probably know less than you do about working as a vet. Unless they’ve read Being a Vet in the 21st Century

● Your careers teacher. Whoops. They don’t exist any more do they. (National Careers Service Website is the replacement. You can online-chat with them).-

● Vet Nurse/Technicians. Now they could be useful. They don’t want you to be a vet particularly. But they know a lot about what being a vet is like.
So when you pop into your local Uncle Sam’s Doggy Everything to have a chat with the vet, don’t forget to ask the nurses what it’s like being a vet too.

● I hate to say it. But it might be worth talking to old-vets. They aren’t very interesting, and they are all a bit ancient, but they are often a bit more honest about the job.
Just remember to ask one that works alongside newvets. Don’t ask an old-vet who works alone, or just drives around farms all day. They won’t have a clue about what new-vets do

● Read this book. It will give you an insight into what’s it like being a vet – durr!

Being a Vet in the 21st Century

By Paul D. Stevens