This is probably the first question every young person asks when they first think about vetting. What’s it like being a vet? With the advent of ‘reality TV’ and ‘reality-drama’, many of us think we ‘know’ the ‘professionals’ that surround us in our everyday lives. Seeing the vets and nurses – always smiling and happy – doing amazing vet things. Saving lives and making unhappy pets better. Is this what it’s like being a vet?
Well yes. Vets save lives and make pets better. But there is a lot to more to it than that.
Aside from medical doctors, vets are probably the most commonly depicted professionals on TV. And these are pretty well always real vets. And it looks pretty attractive:
We see Herriot-style vets performing Herriot-style magic. We can watch highly specialised and highly medicalised veterinary surgery – usually performed by heroic men – supported by smoothly efficient teams of young interns – usually women.
And all this vetting is invariably accompanied with a special and common touch – a sympathetic smile, a hand on an elbow, or an empathic hug.
You know you are watching fiction. Right?
These are all actors telling you the stories you want to hear. True, real vets doing real vetting. But still actors.
And the programs’ directors and editors are good at their jobs. They get the tone just right…
Remember that these editors aim to please you with their editing. They aren’t in this business to inform. They are tasked with the job to entertain – so that you will stay watching and so you will consume more TV.
So what is the answer to your problem of finding out about vetting reality? What’s it like being a vet?
Probably the most reliable way to find out what it’s like being a vet is to ask one. No, sorry. That’s wrong.
Ask ten vets. And don’t just ask the most senior vet – the one who allows you to stand in the corner of their examination room. No, ask the new young vet who doesn’t have the time to say hello to you. Ask the head nurse. Ask the receptionist. Then go to another practice and do it again. Then again.
And do your research. Read real vet magazines. Go on forums. Spend time with a vet and ask them personal questions.
- What’s it like?
- What’s it really like?
- Was it all worth it?
And remember, many vets (and vet students) are highly driven personalities (with correspondingly big egos). Which means many will not be willing to admit their career mistakes. So Try to be level-headed and dispassionate when you receive their answers to your questions. Don’t just think this,,,
“Oh that looks fun. I love animals and I’m good at Biology. It would be amazing to get a job with animals. Those vet-students look great in their ball-gowns. I’ll be a vet.”
Trust me. If that is your only motivation, then you are in for a very bumpy ride…