Dr. Vanessa Yeager is the owner of Veterinary Consulting LLC.Read Articles Written by Vanessa Yeager
I’d like to respond to the article “22 Extraordinary Women” [August/September 2022] and the Viewpoint “22 Outliers” [October/November 2022]. The message of “22 Extraordinary Women” was about how 22 ordinary women became extraordinary. The article highlighted not only their unique stories but also pointed to the variety of roles a DVM can fill in the industry. The article was not about how women can arrange their personal lives or that only intelligent women go into specialty or adjunctive roles. It was not about “having it all” as a veterinarian. That’s simply impossible regardless of what field you go into.
Rather, the overall theme through reading their journeys in veterinary medicine was the many paths one can take after obtaining a DVM. That is one of the beauties the degree allows you; one of many, I might add.
General practice is just one road you can walk down, and not everyone goes down that path or decides to stay there for long. Those who do stay in general practice for the rest of their careers do so because they truly love it and are good at being a general practitioner.
While general practice has its challenges, the “hard stuff” is not just segregated to GP. As far as the veterinary industry is concerned, it’s all “hard stuff.” For example, some women in the article own companies or founded large not-for-profit organizations. We even had college deans.
Although their work is indeed different from that of a general practitioner, it is no less challenging and comes with a unique set of stresses and daily hurdles. No one entered this field because they knew it would be easy. That is true no matter what area in veterinary medicine you go into.
While it is true that general practice has its share of glaring issues, the issues, in my opinion, are due to socioeconomic changes over the past 30 years. Some happened gradually over time and some happened all at once (for example, exploding numbers of pet parents during the pandemic).
General practice is not what it was 30 years ago. Practices are trying to keep up and trying to evolve to new generational standards for both the incoming doctors/staff and new pet parents. This is expected and is evidence of progress and growth being made in the industry.
There is a trend for more work-life balance, or as Dr. Mia Cary more accurately called it in her profile, “work-life integration,” which was not prioritized by older generations. There is more of a push to obtain some semblance of a functional life outside of work, which quite frankly is desperately needed in this field given its demanding nature and high rate of burnout. We need to continue to focus on these issues and continue the conversation on ways we can work together to help better the industry as a whole.
I found “22 Extraordinary Women” inspirational and a wonderful reminder of how far a DVM degree can take you.