Adam, Veterinarian and Practice Manager
What's it like being a vet?
While Adam, a vet and manager of a small animal practice in Melbourne, really enjoys his work, he says that when he started, it wasn't quite as he had expected: "What always takes new vets by surprise is how much people-work there is. A lot of students go into veterinary science rather than medicine because they want to work with animals rather than people. However, what they don't realise is that you have to work with the client to get to the pet, so good interpersonal skills are actually really quite critical."
He also cautions that as a vet, there will be a lot of routine jobs: "You will pregnancy-test a lot of cows, spay a lot of cats and vaccinate a lot of puppies, so if you don't learn to enjoy the routine, you'll be dissatisfied."
What do you find most rewarding?
And while Adam also warns that the hours can be long and the remuneration not quite motivational, he is quick to add that there is much that is rewarding about his work: "I enjoy the diagnostic challenges, and of course, the best part is the cases that go well. When you save somebody's cat or dog, it's nice to receive their thanks, and as a vet, you'll also have the opportunity to establish rewarding relationships with both clients and staff alike. Plus it's quite a flexible occupation, so you can structure your hours to fit in with other commitments."
What skills and qualities do you need?
To become a vet, Adam says that you will need to be bright, energetic, compassionate, flexible, service oriented, and a good team player.
He emphasises that there is a lot of information to assimilate throughout the course and reminds aspiring vets that they are going into a service industry. "We provide services as required, which sometimes means 10 hour shifts and after-hours work."
What career opportunities are there?
Once qualified as a vet, you could go into clinical practice, research, industry, or teaching, you can work part-time, overseas, or you can specialise in a particular area.
"You can't really know enough these days to be effective with every species, and there's likely to be a lot more specialisation in the years to come," says Adam.
If you're contemplating a career in veterinary science, Adam advises, "Cut the romance and spend as much time as you can in a vet practice beforehand. Find somewhere good, big and busy, ask questions and watch what goes on. You need to know what you're getting yourself into, and you've got to be in it for the right reasons. Having said that, the good vets love it!"
Find out more about a career as a vet
Visit the MyFuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a veterinarian.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).