Let’s inspire one another by imagining a life and career that fulfills our grandest ambitions, deepest callings, and most fervent hopes.
Picture yourself leaning out the open door of a helicopter, flying low over the grasslands of East Africa. You direct the pilot towards the lone form of an endangered black rhinoceros, pull out your high-powered tranquilizer rifle, and fire a well-aimed dart right into the majestic creature’s shoulder. Minutes later, you’re on the ground, inserting a microchip into the rhino’s valuable horn and cleaning out an abscess in his hoof that had been bothering him for weeks. Moments after injecting the reversal agent, you watch the animal stagger to his feet and head off into the bush, ready to live another day. Success!
Or how about this? You’ve been called up to participate in an urgent investigation of an unknown disease that seems to be killing off both pigs and humans on a tropical island in Southeast Asia. Your expertise in zoonotic viral diseases is recognized around the world. On arrival, you’re rushed off to get briefed by the WHO and CDC agents already on the ground. Also present are the local physicians and veterinarians who first realized something out of the ordinary was spreading around. Thus begins three weeks of high speed sleuthing, taking you from the regional hospital to a local pig farm, out into the surrounding jungle to trap and bleed wildlife, and back to the national university’s lab to run initial tests. That’s what I’m talking about!
Indulge me in one more scenario, a little closer to home for many of us. It’s been a fun but ordinary day in rural Virginia, driving between farms in your fully outfitted pick-up. You pulled a calf (both mom and babe are doing great!), performed artificial insemination on a couple of valuable alpacas, dehorned and neutered some kid goats, and even vaccinated a couple farm cats for rabies. As the brisk autumn afternoon draws to a close, you get a call from the local sheriff’s dispatch: “We’ve got a mamma bear dead in a car wreck and we need you to help us catch and deal with her three wounded cubs.” The surrounding community knows that you have a special place in your heart for wildlife, so you get a call like this every couple of weeks. Even though the local fauna don’t pay much, they do give you a reason to drive up to the nearby wildlife hospital and stay connected with one of your earliest passions in life. Sweet.
Why spend time with these veterinary visions? They are dreams that many of us have shared, imagining lives for ourselves outside the normal routine of small animal practice in Suburbville, USA. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a life of normal routines, but most of us have wanted something more and kick ourselves occasionally for letting go of those dreams.
Over the months ahead, I’ll share my own experiences in pursuing these goals. More importantly, however, I will draw on the experiences of a whole slew of other vets who have already been there and want to help you find your own way to success.