As a veterinary professional or student, you know that the job consumes a lot of time and energy. Your hours depend not only on your needs but on the clinic’s. Your evening meal may be at the mercy of a pet emergency or the day-to-day operational needs of your private practice. Since many vets own a clinic, it becomes even more important to know what to expect from your personal life as a veterinarian and how to achieve a balance between your career and your off-time.
Balancing being a vet and having a personal life will not be automatic. We want to give you some strategies to consider so you can find the balance that works best for you and your family.
1. Ask for flexible work
If you work at a clinic, consider asking your employer for a more flexible work schedule. You may be able to trade hours with other vets to attend important social or family events. If you own your own clinic, guarantee yourself some time off by hiring someone who can cover for you when you’re gone.
2. Keep a calendar
With your nose in your work, you may forget about the bigger picture of your year. Don’t rely on your memory – keep a calendar for the whole year with all the big events on it. These include upcoming weddings, reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, and any other social obligations.
3. Prioritize yourself
Many professionals, particularly just starting out, don’t know how to say “no” to their boss. If you feel you cannot do another shift or that you need time with your family, you should prioritize your needs. If your boss won’t let you, consider changing jobs to a practice that will accommodate you or finding a less traditional veterinary career.
How Can I Make the Change?
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Despite knowing these strategies, many busy veterinarians will still be locked into their day-to-day work, which is both important and crucially time sensitive. Here are some easy ways to change your position in tiny yet effective ways to make more time for yourself and your family.
Leave work at work – Any ongoing projects that can wait should wait until you’re back at work.
Keep a timetable – Figure out how you spend your time so you can see if delegation or reduction can free up your schedule.
Get off the clock – Try to leave on time during the week, at least once. Try to eat your lunch outside of the office at least once. Give yourself breathing room.
Learn to relax – When you are with family or friends, learn to relax. Put off errands that can wait, ditch your household chores for a bit, and put your technology down. The only way your personal time will be effective is if it’s personal.
While it may seem difficult, it is possible to balance a personal life and a career as a veterinarian. Many factors of the job are out of your control, from animal emergencies to clinic duties. However, with a little more awareness and some of these self-care strategies under your belt, you can make effectively balancing your life your new part-time goal. It won’t cost you time to try – it will find you time you never knew you had.
If you have any questions or concerns about opening your practice, please reach out! We want all veterinarians pursuing their profession to experience success stories like the veterinarians of the International Veterinary Professionals Association (IVPA).