In the simplest way to put it, our job as veterinarians is to serve the clients and patients that come into our practices every day. It’s what we’ve always wanted to do. To get to see and work with the animals that we love, and to give them and their owners the best possible lives together. Something we may not hear about enough though, and what we often come to realize as we go about our careers is that as much as we love doing what we do, our everyday work in the practice can be challenging and demanding. Over the course of my career, I have come to realize the importance of recharging and reconnecting with my passion for animal care. While we all love pets and strive to practice the best possible medicine within the walls of our practice, it’s important to take a step back from time to time and find ways to keep your passion alive in other ways.
So how do you do stay grounded and keep your passion for animal care alive? For me, it’s through volunteering! Learn about other areas of our profession and give back to the veterinary community, whether it’s locally, domestically, or internationally.
You don’t need to go far to serve our profession. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your city. Find ways to get involved with the pets and animals in your neighborhood. Sure, it could be nice to have them as a regular patient that comes into the practice, but the reality is, there are a lot of pets local to you who may not ever have that opportunity afforded to them. Taking the time to care for animals who may otherwise never get that care is not only rewarding for you at a personal level but can also help you recharge your passion for providing incredible care at a professional level as well.
One option is to volunteer at your local humane society, where you can offer your veterinary services to help animals in need. For you students and new grads, this is also a way to get some valuable experience working in an exam room. Who knows? It might just set you in a career path you might have never imagined being passionate about.
If you’re wanting to get out of the city, or even out of the state a little, there are plenty of ways for you to volunteer your time and skills across the country. This is your chance to find the specialties, species, and environments your passionate about, and putting yourself in a position to help in those spaces.
If you’re interested in domestic opportunities, there are several organizations to consider, such as Rural Area Veterinary Services. Whether it’s providing spays and neuters to pets in underprivileged communities, or relief care to pets who have been affected by natural disasters, there are opportunities for just about situation and circumstance you can think of.
On a personal note, I recently had the opportunity to serve as a staff veterinarian for the Iditarod. During this event, approximately 50 veterinarians each year work directly with mushers and their dogs and volunteer their time taking care of these ultramarathon running athletes. To hear more about my experience at this year’s race, and to connect with me and learn how to get involved with the Iditarod, check out the Let’s Vet Together Podcast!
With everything we hear about that’s going on internationally on the news, it’s not hard to imagine that there is a need for veterinarians that are willing to help around the world. International volunteering is an opportunity for you to get an eye-opening experience caring for pets and animals that may not be in circumstances like what we have here in America. It’s also a great opportunity to work with species and breeds that you may otherwise never get to see. If you have a heart for international pet care or exotic species, volunteering your time and skills internationally may be the reset and recharge you need to keep your fire burning.
If you’re interested in serving the veterinary community internationally, there are numerous opportunities to explore. Mission Rabies is an organization that will have you travel to different countries to vaccinate dogs and prevent the spread of rabies in third world countries. Christian Veterinary Fellowship offers veterinary services, including spay/neuter procedures and general veterinary care, to underserved communities around the world. World Vets also has international opportunities available and is another great organization if you’re interested in providing veterinary care to developing countries or the countries affected by natural disasters.
So how do you get started? For starters, if you’re a part of the Suveto network, you can take advantage of our Volunteer Time Off program. Dedicate time that you would typically spend in the practice looking for and serving in organizations that provide volunteer opportunities for you to do any of the 3 types of volunteering mentioned. If you’re not part of the Suveto network, find some time to step away from your practice, or dedicate some vacation time to volunteer. Obviously, the organizations and opportunities I’ve mentioned are a few out of many, but it’s clear to see that there are many opportunities to serve the veterinary community. By exploring opportunities like volunteering at a local humane society, working with organizations that work domestically or internationally, you can stay grounded, learn about other areas of your profession, and continue to do exactly what we as veterinarians are called to do: serving the pets and animals around us.