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Colm S. Veterinarian
Some people grow up knowing what they want to be. Some kids already have their minds made up when they are very little, some do not. It all depends on the type of person that you are. For Colm S., it was as simple as loving animals. Ever since he was a little kid he’s been around them. It only seemed natural for him to become a veterinarian. To his surprise though, it wasn’t a piece of cake when he got out of college.
If you were in college, how would you handle holding a part-time job and a job at college?
Although going to school and working part-time is possible and necessary for a lot of people, I think being able to focus on your college work or professional degree work 100% is preferable. The amount of information to absorb and studying required for veterinary school would have made having a part-time job very stressful for me. Fortunately I was able to get loans from the federal government to help pay my way. Now I just have to pay it all back!
Did you go for any higher degrees while in college? If so, how do you think these degrees affected your future as a veterinarian?
My undergraduate college degrees were in Political Science and Chemistry. I think the admissions people at most vet schools like applicants that have a diverse set of knowledge and experiences. In that sense a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science was helpful—totally different than most other applicants. The chemistry degree showed them that I was capable of handling all of the science and medical courses and it meant I had completed many of the pre-requisites for vet school.
Do you think it’s easy for people first getting out of college to find jobs? Why or why not?
I think a lot of students, especially with liberal arts degrees like myself, might feel a little lost when they first graduate from college. It took me a few years to decide to go back to school to become a vet. Liberal arts degrees provide a well-balanced education but I for one felt like “what do I do now?” once I graduated. Vet school provided more of a focused career. As a veterinarian there are plenty of job opportunities both in private practice, university, research, pharmaceuticals, government or the military.
How do you feel when you have to put an animal down?
It is always a heartbreaking decision for pet owners and I have had to euthanize my own pets too. In most situations however, it is the most humane, compassionate and loving decision an owner can make for their ailing pet. It’s always very sad and difficult to say goodbye but most people realize it is the best way to prevent unnecessary suffering.
Have you ever second-guessed your decision to follow this profession? Why or why not?
When I was toiling away studying in vet school I thought I could have chosen something easier and something that didn’t require me to incur so much student loan debt. But now especially since I own my own business I have no regrets. I really enjoy my clients and caring for their pets. Knowing that building up the practice will ultimately payoff for me makes going to work much more enjoyable than when I worked for someone else.
Money or power? Which would you rather have in your job? Why?
As a business owner, money not only supports my family and me but it also allows me to continue to provide the best service I can. Whether it is for purchasing new equipment to offer some service I couldn’t have before, for hiring and retaining the best employees I can or simply paying my bills and rent here at the clinic, money at this point is more essential.
What sacrifices have you had to make for your job (such as time, money, etc.)?
I used to have a couple of days off each week and go on vacation once in a while—not anymore. Also as a new business we have been totally dependent on one salary for the past 18 months or so. So we have had to make some lifestyle adjustments at home.
In what ways has the economy affected those in the veterinarian job field?
It’s hard for me to say since my business started slowly to begin with and I’m not sure if it was because of the economy or just because we were just starting out here. From what I have read, the animal care field in general has continued to grow despite the economic downturn. I believe the veterinary field especially for those interested in general practice like me will always have good opportunities.
What do you look forward to the most about your job every day?
I look forward to a job well done. As in any occupation, there are some things that aren’t that fun, but most cases are very rewarding. You can go home feeling like in some way you improved the life of someone’s pet. It could be diagnosing an unusual illness or saving an animal’s life by removing a large cancerous tumor. If all goes well the animal is better off and the client is happy.
What are some of your most memorable experiences you’ve had on the job?
My very first day on the job after graduation, I was treating a dog with a laceration. As a new vet I wanted to appear confident and knowledgeable. The couple that owned the dog seemed pleased with how I bandaged their dog’s foot so they asked how long I had been a vet. I answered honestly and told them this was my first day on the job.
When they left the exam room I heard them announce to the entire crowded waiting room that I was the new vet in the practice and their dog had been my very first patient.
I expected to hear a mass exodus out the door but thankfully nobody ran away and as far as I remember I didn’t make any major screw-ups that day.
Thank you for taking this time out of your day to be with me!