One of our gentle readers, Dr. PN, has requested we share this entry with you. He loves his job, but hates the associated crap. He's wondering what to do now, so if you have any advice for him, let's hear it!
So what now?I’m lost. Not in a wandering around the forest kind of lost. But lost in the sense that I’m not sure which direction to take next. How can a guy with an Audi R8 be lost you ask? Well it starts with many realizations I’ve had over the past year, a year that has been hard on me, but not for the reasons you might think. Here’s some background…Where to begin? With that question most of you are probably closing this post right now, realizing that this could be a long post. And it could be, because those who know me know I like to chat. This year started quietly, which is what I wanted. I had just sold my third veterinary hospital, sold my acreage I’d developed last year, and moved onto another property which I finished developing by Christmas. Well that all sounds great, a new property, a bunch of money in the bank, a fancy car in the garage, and all the time off I could ever dream of. Dream is the right word, because for most people that is the dream, and that was true for me as well. I had busted my ass for the past 13 years, founding, designing/building and working at my three veterinary hospitals, running a veterinary equipment import business, developing five acreage properties, as well as some other side gigs to keep things interesting! So why then was I not bouncing off the walls happy? Purpose. Or lack of it, that’s why.All my life I watched family and friends struggle to make ends meet because they didn’t have enough money, and that of course continues today all over North America. I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to rely on anyone or any government to take care of me, that I would be successful and make it on my own. And after 13 years of non-stop work I could’ve basically retired and lived a decent life, but suddenly I didn’t care about that. Wow, talk about a kick in the teeth. To set huge goals, accomplish them, then realize that wasn’t what made you tick, made you happy, made you want to get out of bed in the morning. Fast forward ten months, where am I at now? I’m frustrated, plain and simple. You see the reason I sold my last vet practice is because I was burnt out. My profession now has the highest rates of suicide and burnout of any profession. Search veterinary burnout or compassion fatigue and you’ll understand. Thing is, I’ve always been a ‘rock’, unbreakable, able to deal with anything. Nothing stands in the way if I want to accomplish something. But realizing I wasn’t doing myself or my practice any good, I sold it. Somedays I regret selling it, other days I know it was the right choice. I feel guilty for leaving the profession I used to love, and that gave me financial freedom. Now I have an opportunity to build another practice but struggle to decide whether or not to do it. It’s what has given me all the ‘material’ things like a nice house/car, it’s what gave me alot of pride and purpose in helping animals, and it’s what allows me to be respected in the community. I went into veterinary medicine to help animals, plain and simple. I never went into it for money, I knew there were many other professions where I could make much more money, but I’ve always loved animals, and medicine, so vet medicine was the clear choice. What I didn’t expect was to be able to channel my entrepreneurial spirit into three veterinary hospitals that grew to be very successful. That was a bonus! Along with that success came incredibly long hours, no vacations, and s.t.r.e.s.s., lots of it. So yes it’s no surprise I got burnt out.In the past year I’ve tried to think of what else I could do, not being burdened by financial worries allows one to contemplate doing anything they really want to do. And yet I’m stuck. I remember all the good days I had working in my clinics, and all the great animals and owners I had the pleasure of meeting and helping. I think some people are lucky to find what are they are ‘supposed to do’, and I’m one of those people. It’s just that our profession has changed so much over the past decade, it’s become very, very demanding. And yes I’ve taken on alot of extra stress, and that is my own doing, lesson learned. Can I start my 4th vet practice, but do it in a way that I can get back to enjoying my profession? I think so. At least I hope so.