Jen's Notebook

The Circle of Veterinary Life


I never intended to work in veterinary medicine.  Although at one point in my childhood, I did want to be a veterinarian.  Doesn’t everyone?   I pursued an education in English and writing, but when a veterinary receptionist opportunity presented itself, I applied – mostly because I needed a job.  Starting at a smaller practice allowed me to learn not just about office protocols and procedures but about anatomy, physiology, parasites, preventive care, drugs, and nutrition.  Working with animals continually peaked my interest in science and biology, while working and communicating with team members and pet owners challenged my shy, introverted nature.

i want to be a vet
Special thanks to Valentine J. Brkich (AKA Val the Writer) for this little treasure from elementary school.  

Because of my interest in the work and with the help and support of many new veterinary friends, I flourished.  My dedication to practice life earned me two promotions and allowed me to utilize my writing skills to branch out into marketing and social media.  I had high hopes when I accepted a management position focusing on marketing and team training.  I had previously worked at this particular practice and was well-aware of their culture.  The hours were long and very busy, full of chronically and terminally ill patients, owners with little or no money, and team members who were committed but overwhelmed and jaded.  I really wanted it to work, so I did my best to stay positive despite challenging environment.

Although there were occasional bright spots and good days, I was unhappy.  I had left a position I loved in search of more creative opportunities.  But within a month of accepting the position, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.  The double-booked, non-stop, disorganized atmosphere wasn’t something I could handle anymore.  Truth is, I didn’t want to handle it.  I just wasn’t that girl anymore.

I started applying for every admin and veterinary job I felt qualified for.  I really wanted to stay in veterinary medicine but I also wanted more stability in my life.  Every time I applied for a non-veterinary position, I felt an overwhelming sense of failure.  I had made it nearly 19 years in a profession I had grown to love.  How could I give it up so easily?  How would I adjust to something new?  Could I adjust to something new?

Although I have extensive experience, I never got called for any of the veterinary jobs I applied for.  I did get called to interview for an audiology assistant but the manager stood me up because he’d had “a busy weekend” and forgot about the interview.   I then interviewed three times with a nationally-known healthcare company and made it to the final round of candidates but never heard from them again.  Not even a thanks-but-no-thanks email.  Despite the repeated disappointments, I continued to apply for jobs – 84 in all over the course of 13 months.

I finally got called to interview for an admin position at a dental practice.  The manager and I clicked immediately and she was impressed by my experience and skill set, not to mention I was a published author!  After three interviews, they made me an offer, which I accepted without much hesitation.

As I started to get excited about the new job, I also felt guilty for leaving veterinary medicine behind.  On an especially rough morning, I checked my emails and saw Dr. Any Roark’s newsletter sitting there waiting to be opened.  I scrolled through it, half asleep, until a title caught my eye – “Quitting isn’t Failure.”  Although the post wasn’t about my particular situation, it was exactly what I needed to hear.  I started thinking about all the awesome things I had learned, done, and experienced and realized that the knowledge, memories, and friendships would be a part of me forever.  Quitting veterinary medicine didn’t nullify any of my accomplishments as an individual or team member.  I’m still friends with many of my former veterinary co-workers.  I’m still a huge feline healthcare advocate.  I’m still a pet lover and pet owner.  I still follow many veterinary sites and blogs because it’s always an interesting read.

Nine months later, I’m still adjusting to my new position as a dental administrative assistant.  Although there is a lot to learn, I’m more than up for the challenge.  There have also been ample opportunities to satisfy my writing itch – managing the Facebook page and practice blog, updating business letters, and creating Power Point presentations.  Working in dental has its perks – a 3-day work week in a clean, low-stress environment, great dental care, and an endless supply of free products.  Working less has allowed me to focus more time on writing and other creative projects like blogging, Nellie’s Instagram presence, and a possible freelance business.  So THANK YOU to Dr. Roark for making me feel better about the decision to start a new chapter in my life.


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