Vetlink Employment Service

Taking care of your mental health – Part 4: Is your job – and career – right for you?

How do you feel about your job? Do you look forward to going to work or is it something to dread and endure? The nature of working in veterinary recruitment means we do speak to our fair share of unhappy vets – so if you’re feeling this way, rest assured you aren’t alone. Some vets simply haven’t found the right job, but for others, a complete change of career is what’s required to turn things around. In our final instalment (for now!) on mental health, we’ll discuss whether your job – and the veterinary industry as a whole – is right for you.

Are you in the right job?

Throughout this series on mental health, we’ve discussed some of the aspects of vet work that make it so challenging: long hours, isolation, stressful cases and difficult clients. The truth is there is no such thing as the perfect job – there will be tough days wherever you work – but the right working conditions and a good employer can make all the difference when it comes to your job satisfaction and, ultimately, your state of mind.

If you’re so tied up with work that you don’t have time to eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise or catch up with friends, then you are probably in the wrong job. Unfortunately, the root of the problem for many disillusioned vets is a poor employer. Excessive work hours or time on call, an unrealistic workload, lack of support or poor remuneration, along with more serious concerns like bullying, can all contribute to an unhappy workplace.

Of course, there will always be times when you have to stay back late or cover for another vet, but if you are persistently subjected to unfair conditions or you aren’t enjoying your job at all, it might be time to take a step back and ask yourself whether you’d be better off somewhere else.

Is veterinary science the right career for you?

Think back to your old vet school days. If it was any time in the past twenty years, chances are at least half a dozen of your fellow students had come to veterinary science by way of another degree, qualification or career. Not surprisingly, just as many vets enter the profession later in life after doing something else, the reverse is also true.

If you love being a vet and couldn’t imagine doing anything else, that’s fantastic, but there are plenty of veterinary graduates out there who just aren’t suited to clinical practice or don’t enjoy it. Some will find other roles within the veterinary industry – like research, academia, pharmaceutical sales or technical support – a better fit, whereas others need a complete change of career

Your veterinary science degree is just that – a degree. It isn’t a blueprint for the rest of your life that you should feel compelled to follow just because that’s what is expected. If a career in the veterinary industry isn’t for you don’t think of yourself as a failure, consider it part of your life’s journey instead – clichéd as it may sound. There are plenty of vets out there who have made the switch to all sorts of interesting fields, like human medicine, IT, property development or starting their own business.

And just because you go and try something else, it doesn’t mean you can’t come back to vet work in the future, or keep doing it on a part-time basis. You might need to do a few refresher courses and seminars to get back up to speed with current best practice, but you can always come back to clinical work in the future if you decide you want to give it another go.

You spend a lot of your life at work, so it makes sense to forge a career in a field you are naturally good at and enjoy. Whether that’s within the veterinary industry or doing something completely different, we’re here to help. We take our role in finding you the right job very seriously, so you are always welcome to contact us for confidential career advice.

This wraps up our series on taking care of your mental health; we hope you’ve found some useful information among the topics we’ve explored.

If this article has raised any concerns, remember help is available:

Lifeline, 13 11 14,
Suicide Call Back Line 1300 659 467
Samaritans Anonymous Crisis Support line, 135247,
Beyond Blue, 1300 22 46 36,
Kids Helpline (aged 5-25), 1800 55 1800,
Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL) 1300 555 788

DISCLAIMER: The above information is for guidance purposes only. Vetlink takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information, which is not intended as advice. We recommend you take advice from a suitably qualified professional. Vetlink takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information and does not endorse any individual or organisation. It is your responsibility to determine the suitability and qualifications of any individual or organisation.