Defining the Ideal Veterinary Workplace: Insights and Aspirations

We all have different needs and wants, but can you find that ideal place that will satisfy you, long term? If so, what would that look like for you? Let me start that discussion with a few prompts and an offer for a safe place to talk.

No, that's not me, but as you'll read below, I clearly don't have time for a photo shoot ;)

Ok, bare with me for a sec, while I talk about “me”. I promise, you’ll relate, and I WILL get to the point!

My Experiences: The Good and Bad

With over 20 years in the veterinary field, I have worked in a wide variety of settings and locations. I have seen people join our ranks and quickly leave, and I have celebrated as others have retired with over 40 years on the job. I have also experienced heart-wrenching moments as we lost colleagues due to the overwhelming emotional, financial, and physical weight and responsibility we carry with us.

I have worked with the best – colleagues who not only excel in their craft but also in their camaraderie. These are professionals who rally around each other in tough times, creating an unparalleled bond. The friendships forged in these environments are profound and enduring, making every day of our challenging work deeply rewarding and life-affirming.

Conversely, I have also encountered less inspiring situations, working alongside individuals with narrow perspectives, cold demeanors, and self-serving intentions. In these settings, I have witnessed the rise of pettiness and spite.

I have worked in state of the art facilities and old fashioned one-room clinics. I have had bosses who I still count among my closest friends and others who wouldn’t make eye contact with me.

I’ve been paid anywhere from minimum wage to what I consider “very good”, and benefits available at times. I spent years in both general practice and emergency and have worked mornings, afternoons, nights, and sometimes all three back-to-back. “Holidays” were always synonymous with “overtime” for me. There were times in life that I worked 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, and others when I was able to just cut to just one.

An Evolving Relationship

Like many in the field, I got into veterinary medicine due to a love of animals. And while I still love every one of them (okay, most of them), I eventually realized that my passion is for the people. Helping the child that’s just lost their best friend. Providing support to someone as they make incredibly difficult decisions. Sharing in the absolute joy when things go well! But not just the clients! I love the feeling of getting through a really tough shift with the team. Of working together, cheering each other on, and seeing what we’ve accomplished. The bond we share and the trials we’ve come through. I love digging deep and finding new ways to help. THAT is my passion.

Speaking with the team members and listening to them - hearing them - that’s where I feel I can do my best. Doing what I can to be available and let them know that they have a value that is beyond measure and are important. Building a team of respected colleagues, supporting them and providing them what they need to provide excellent medical care to deserving clients and patients is a privilege that I take seriously.

These are the things that continuously fuel my passion for veterinary medicine.

It’s Not All Puppies and Rainbows

Let’s step aside for a moment and discuss the things that might be uncomfortable to talk about. I don’t have to dig far to come up with some ugly things that hang over our community and have sometimes devastating impacts.

We’ve been told by clients that we’re scum. Yelled at, pushed, spit at. Told we are just in it for the money. We’ve been taken advantage of by coworkers and supervisors. Had those people pop up in your messages asking for free advice when you haven’t spoken to them in years. Paid less than we deserve, and worked longer than agreed. Underutilized for the skills and knowledge you have worked so hard to achieve. We’ve missed countless moments with our children, significant others, parents, and friends. Understaffed, overworked, and rarely thanked. Breaks, not likely. Leaving on time, who knows. Stressed to the point we never thought possible. I could go on.

So What Do We Do?

With all of that said, and with a nod to all the INCREDIBLE people I have had the honor of working with, I want to ask you - if I told you to write a description, today, of the ideal clinic, what would you say?

  • What does our management team look like?
  • How are our incredible RVTs not just utilized AND protected?
  • How do we encourage, support and promote growth in our staff?
  • What kind of team dynamics make your heart happy?
  • Your ideal schedule—8’s, 10’s, 12’s? Grouped or spaced out?
  • What does fair pay mean to you?
  • What benefits do you need?
  • What extras make you feel valued?
  • What do you think are fair amounts for PTO, sick days, and holidays?
  • What can your employer do for your mental health and wellness?
  • What gestures make you feel appreciated?
  • What other ways would make a clinic feel like it is the one?

Please take a moment and share this with your coworkers, employees, and employers. You are valuable. You are important. You are worth it. Start the discussion - today.

I Appreciate You!

I am seeking to create that place. The ideal veterinary workplace. It is my mission. My passion. But I need YOU to tell me about you, and your experiences. Your goals, your dreams, your likes and dislikes. If you don’t feel comfortable commenting on this post, send me a private message. Please help me create a place of harmony and appreciation for our veterinary colleagues. If you happen to be in the Northwest Ohio area and are looking for a job, hit me up. <3

Tonya Tack

Owner / Practice Manager
The Bridge Urgent Pet Care