General practice has always been one of my favorite parts of veterinary medicine. My first job in the veterinary field was in a small animal clinic, and the passion for our job that I developed in that clinic still remains with me today. I recently explained this to a friend and emphasized that I find value in wellness visits and watching an animal progress through life as an important part of their owner’s life. I also explained that if I could see wellness appointments and other general practice appointments all day for the rest of my career, I would. Now, my friend is a very successful person who thrives on complex work, so she said (lightheartedly) that it was “shameful” to find such value in such “mundane” work.
It probably goes without saying, but this statement made me angry. I hold wellness visits and the role of the general practitioner very close to my heart, and I see their value every single day. Sure, it is great to be a fantastic orthopedic surgeon or cardiovascular surgeon. We need people like that, and it is a valuable thing to do with your veterinary career. However, we cannot forget the other aspects of health that need attention. Things like parasite prevention, vaccination, nutrition, and behavior are all essential to wellbeing and the prevention of disease. Thinking that being interested in these aspects of veterinary medicine is “taking the easy path” is wrong and will only set us up for feelings of inadequacy and malcontent with our careers.
What aspect of your career do you find beauty and value in? That is the real question that will ensure satisfaction and success in our lives. I know that for me, seeing a puppy grow into an adult and continue to bring happiness to its family is almost unrivaled by any other part of veterinary practice. It will be different for everyone, which is part of what makes our skills so useful in the workforce. We all find value in different aspects of our profession, and following those values and interests will result in us developing into the best practitioners we can be.