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What are the cons of being an equine veterinarian?

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  • What are the cons of being an equine veterinarian?

    Besides the obvious things (such as, having to put down animals, or being called out late at night).

    What are the little things that stress you? Do customers give you a hard time, not take your advice, etc...and after you think of all the cons, are you still glad you chose this career path?

    Just curious.
    Originally posted by barka.lounger
    u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

    we see u in gp ring in no time.

  • #2
    I'm not an equine vet but I would guess on the list of cons might be having patients that weigh 1000+ lbs that have a fight or flight response and you're usually only seeing and handling them when they're sick or injured and scared.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte

    Comment


    • #3
      -outdoor work: depending on where you are, this can be unpleasant at certain times of year, although many people consider it a pro as well - not much time stuck in an office!
      -risk of injury
      -physically demanding work
      -long hours
      -pay often isn't that great, especially shortly after you get out of school

      ... of course, I say these things as I work my way through 4 years of school toward my DVM with every intention of specializing in equine medicine .

      Comment


      • #4
        Cons:
        no life.
        Listening to endless rants by horseowners about haw badly the veterinarian is ripping them off. Rants about why they can't have prescription drug X dispensed to "have on hand".
        Physically demanding work.
        Bloodstains on all your good clothes (Murphy's law of emergencies)
        the frustration of not being able to cure or fix everything

        Pros:
        great clients
        hanging around with horses and getting paid for it
        newborn foals
        driving around in the truck and listening to music (tip of the adequan ball cap to Dr. Lori)
        the great feeling of being able to fix some things


        I'd do it all again.
        "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

        ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm not an equine vet, but worked around in the field for awhile...

          I'd say some cons are:

          -Getting people to call before it's too late. IE: People wait hoping to save $$ and by the time they call, the horse is off feed, not drinking, weak, and goes downhill fast....for something that may have been treatable if the vet had been called a few days sooner. (I'm thinking stuff like Potomac)

          -Same people above then badmouthing you because you "killed their horse"....

          -If you're not in a very large practice, being on call 24/7/365. That can be avoided some if you're in a larger practice but still...being on call can really take a lot out of your personal life.

          -the cost of doing business and needing to run it as a business and not a charity.

          -dealing with people who want you to diagnose over the phone instead of seeing the patient.

          -foaling season.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

          Comment


          • #6
            Another con: Just a thought...not really sure about the economics of it, but just something I've noticed...Depending on where your practice is, you might spend a lot more time in the truck (not making money) than on farms. Having a clinic can help, as can being in a concentrated horsey area (like Southern Pines). I'd imagine that a good receptionist could help with this by scheduling appointments in similar areas for certain days.

            Plus: Having time in the truck is good for your mental state!

            Con (true for all aspects of medicine - my dad (MD) complained about this all the time): People wait until 5:30 (if you're in small animal practice) or 10:30 (equine practice) to call you about something that's been going on all day (or week), and you could've dealt with that morning.

            And I don't know if euthanasia is necessarily a con - it can be hard, but it's often much better than the alternative (watching the animal suffer). I worked in a small animal practice, and we had a client that didn't believe in euthanasia. Watching that animal suffer for almost a week (before the client finally agreed to euthanize) is something that will forever be seared in my memory. Sometimes euthanasia can be an okay thing, even though it is usually emotionally draining.

            Are you considering applying to vet school? If so, let me know if you have any questions about the application process. I'm a 1st year right now. You may also want to check out the SDN forums.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Ben and Me View Post

              Are you considering applying to vet school? If so, let me know if you have any questions about the application process. I'm a 1st year right now. You may also want to check out the SDN forums.
              Thanks! Yes I am considering. I'm actually in the stage before considering...I have a good amount of prereq's I'd need to knock out first (I have zero bio or chem from my college years, and very little math).

              There is an info session at my nearest CVM next week that I am going to attend. I wanted to get a feel for it - see if it's something I'm really interested in. Then step B is seeing how long it would take (and how much $$) while working a full time job to get me to the point where I could even apply. Step C would be thinking of affording vet school and considering living 2 hrs from my s/o for 4 years

              The reason I am even considering this is because my current job is incredibly stressful. Not saying being a vet is not - but I am just trying to weigh the cons...would it be worse than what I do now? So far, the answer is no, but I did post just to make sure I wasn't missing something obvious.
              Originally posted by barka.lounger
              u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

              we see u in gp ring in no time.

              Comment


              • #8
                Have you looked at the pre-req website for your in state school yet? If your in state is the same as mine was (which I'm guessing might be the case, based on the fact that they have an info session scheduled for next week) they have everything spelled out very clearly on their website. You might want to check that out before the session, just so you have an idea of some good questions to ask.

                First thing you'll want to do is get some veterinary experience. You have to have a minimum of 400 hours to even apply, if we're talking about the same CVM. I'd recommend starting that before even taking classes - after all, you want to make sure this is what you want to do.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                  I'm not an equine vet, but worked around in the field for awhile...

                  I'd say some cons are:

                  -Getting people to call before it's too late. IE: People wait hoping to save $$ and by the time they call, the horse is off feed, not drinking, weak, and goes downhill fast....for something that may have been treatable if the vet had been called a few days sooner. (I'm thinking stuff like Potomac)

                  -Same people above then badmouthing you because you "killed their horse"....

                  -If you're not in a very large practice, being on call 24/7/365. That can be avoided some if you're in a larger practice but still...being on call can really take a lot out of your personal life.

                  -the cost of doing business and needing to run it as a business and not a charity.

                  -dealing with people who want you to diagnose over the phone instead of seeing the patient.

                  -foaling season.
                  I just retired after 7 1/2 years working at an equine clinic and your comments above are so true. We worked hard to make sure clients felt comfortable calling with concerns earlier rather than later.

                  Sedation is a vet's friend when working with some horses, those with the precious syndrone.
                  Last edited by SLW; Dec. 9, 2009, 08:23 PM. Reason: add

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd have to think that the inability to really communicate in depth with one's patients has got to be a source of great frustration. I mean, a good vet has many ways of finding out "what's wrong", but it would make me NUTS to not be able to simply ASK QUESTIONS and GET ANSWERS, straight from the horse's mouth as it were.

                    I spent almost six hours with a great equine vet yesterday, though, and was thinking as the day went on: "damn, this is FUN".
                    Click here before you buy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There is a shortage of large animal vets in this country. Most graduating vet students go into SMALL animal practice because its WAAAAAy more money. Many large animal vets nearly starve! The costs are outragous, the hours suck, the pay is less than others make and the school are insane. That should about cover it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Not a vet but I'll add just a couple of things I can recall my vets presenting as cons--

                        Clients who won't treat as you prescribe. One vet found she really enjoyed changing from a show-barn heavy practice to a back-yard based one. The first group wanted It Fixed Right Now and couldn't or wouldn't put in the time with slow things like cold-hosing or a slow approach to fitness and rehab. The second group was reported to faithfully do what it took (soaking abscesses, etc.) to contribute to treatment.

                        Billing.

                        Large debt out of school and poor pay for several years. An ultimately lower profit margin in comparison with small animal vets.

                        Everything else-- client relationships, trying to maintain a profit margin-- seems to have to do with how good of a professional and personable your are.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                          I'd have to think that the inability to really communicate in depth with one's patients has got to be a source of great frustration. I mean, a good vet has many ways of finding out "what's wrong", but it would make me NUTS to not be able to simply ASK QUESTIONS and GET ANSWERS, straight from the horse's mouth as it were.

                          I spent almost six hours with a great equine vet yesterday, though, and was thinking as the day went on: "damn, this is FUN".
                          While you can't ask them questions, the plus side is they don't lie to you either....
                          Turn off the computer and go ride!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Con:

                            The economics. I once read in one of the veterinary journals for large animal vets that it was an average of 20 years to get to an equivalent pay scale of small animal vets. Mostly this was due to the massive overhead and start-up costs (e.g. you have to take the hospital to the animal, not the other way round).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                              Con:

                              The economics. I once read in one of the veterinary journals for large animal vets that it was an average of 20 years to get to an equivalent pay scale of small animal vets. Mostly this was due to the massive overhead and start-up costs (e.g. you have to take the hospital to the animal, not the other way round).



                              ?? It costs MUCH less to start a mobile equine practice than a brick and mortar small animal practice. I mean, it's not even remotely close.

                              As far as pay--it really depends on what type of practice and what part of the country you are in. It will depend on whether you pursue a internship/residency as well. Practice owners generally make more money...but you do have the headaches of running a business. On average, small animal associates (ie, employed) vets make more than equine associates, but that's certainly not always the case. The worst is the first 5 years. You will absolutely not make as much as your SA classmates during that time. But it tends to get closer after that.

                              16 years later...would I do it again? Absolutely. Most days, anyway I am a 100% equine ambulatory vet/practice owner.

                              The poster who suggested you go get some practical experience is right on target. You MUST know what it is really like--and even then, watching a vet work is not the same as doing it yourself. But you'll have a much better idea if slogging through the calculus, chemistries, physics in undergrad is worth it.

                              Interestingly, I don't think for most of us it ends up being a financial decision of equine vs small animal. It is a lifestyle decision and how important riding, husband/kid/family time and time off on a regular basis is to you. Even then, if you find the right hospital/situation you can make it work.

                              What do I like the best? Knowing I helped.

                              What do I least like? That has changed through the years. That moment when you know the kindest, most realistic option is to euthanize, but you know it has not dawned on the owner yet and you need to discuss it. I dread that.

                              It used to bother me about client compliance and not taking my advice, but now I realize that each owner often needs to get advice from many sources to come to a decision/plan of action. You paid me for my advice; I hope you take it, I think it is the best but ultimately you own the horse.

                              Well, I could go on and on. Go get some serious hours of experience (at least 400) under your belt and you'll be a lot closer to knowing if it is something you want to do.

                              Good Luck.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                ColicHappens, are you in solo practice?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
                                  Cons:
                                  no life.
                                  Listening to endless rants by horseowners about haw badly the veterinarian is ripping them off. Rants about why they can't have prescription drug X dispensed to "have on hand".
                                  Physically demanding work.
                                  Bloodstains on all your good clothes (Murphy's law of emergencies)
                                  the frustration of not being able to cure or fix everything

                                  Pros:
                                  great clients
                                  hanging around with horses and getting paid for it
                                  newborn foals
                                  driving around in the truck and listening to music (tip of the adequan ball cap to Dr. Lori)
                                  the great feeling of being able to fix some things


                                  I'd do it all again.
                                  I have the same hat! I'm wearing it right now lol.

                                  Cons:
                                  -fire engine medicine (clients that avoid calling you until it is an absolute DIRE emergency-like three weeks after the fence wound on the leg and now the horse is NWB, or people that wait two days to call you for a colic that you might have been able to fix)
                                  -clients that call every one BUT you for a problem and only consult you after 15 other people have seen and worked on the horse

                                  Pros:
                                  -Newborn Hereford calves (ok snuck a bovine pro in lol)
                                  -Newborn Paint foals
                                  -Being able to get back in the truck and DRIVE AWAY from a bad call-it's like being able to start over on the next one. Not like being stuck in the clinic where the bad vibes follow you around
                                  -Riding around in the truck with the best. dog. ever.
                                  Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
                                  Sam: A job? Does it pay?
                                  Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
                                  Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Newborn Hereford calves (ok snuck a bovine pro in lol)
                                    Well, I was going to mention correcting a dystocia in a ewe and seeing newborn triplets....
                                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Dystocia in anything is no bueno. Specifically when a fetotomy is involved.

                                      Everything everyone said is so true.

                                      Something else you really need to consider is the fact you will always be "the vet." Horse shows, trail rides, 3-day events, riding lessons, ropings, whatever you do, you will ALWAYS be bombarded with questions from clients and the best, people who say "We don't use you because you're too expensive but can you answer my question?" You will get people coming to your door- no joke, Halloween 2007- asking vet questions because they see the vet rig. It really never stops. It does hinder your personal "horse life."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
                                        Well, I was going to mention correcting a dystocia in a ewe and seeing newborn triplets....
                                        see, not a vet here, but unsticking a lamb/kid and watching the other 2 pop out behind her like an assembly line...priceless
                                        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

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