I have a couple of financial tips that are the result of current financial issues that many members of my class have been discussing. For many of us, this is the first time we are totally out of school with an income. This is an exciting time, but it also presents many new frontiers that we must navigate carefully and with intention.
Paying to live in certain areas of the country is more expensive than others. It should not be a surprise that living in New York City is more expensive than living in rural Ohio. Even when living in a cheap place, it can still be hard to make ends meet if you are making a low salary such as the salaries that many interns will be making. Things become even harder when you have student loans or other debt to pay off. Due to your individual, unique cost of living, it is important to choose a job wisely to make sure that you can financially stay afloat. Even if money is not that important to you, eating and paying rent has to be important to everyone. Your landlord will not care if you are doing an internship and making $30,000 a year. Your student loan lender won’t care if you want to provide the best care for the most underserved patients in the world while taking an enormous pay cut. It would be great if lenders did understand this stuff, but all they care about is their bottom line. Not caring for the numbers game does not make you exempt from it. That being said, it is totally possible to make things work. Living with family or friends can greatly lower costs by splitting rental fees. Some people may even find it useful to seek an elderly person that needs help around the house and would be willing to exchange services for rent. You never know what you may find if you look. If you are driven to achieve certain career goals, anything is possible.
While the medicine needs to come first, acting like money has no impact on our day-to-day choices and feelings is absurd. Wishing that money has no place in the veterinary setting is romantic, but it is not the reality that we currently live in. I have heard from many classmates that they are aware of the financial realities of veterinary medicine, but they feel that money won’t matter to them and they just want to focus on medicine. While money may not matter to them, money does matter to our clients! The sooner you start to make the effort to understand the financial reality of your clients, the more effective a veterinarian you will be. Whether it is your reality or not, acting like money is no object will reflect on how your clients perceive their interactions with you. No matter how uncomfortable it may be for you, every veterinary interaction is a matter of you and the client agreeing on a price to pay for the services that you provide.