Who Knew My Veterinary Training Would Pay Off in Parenting

Wednesday was a momentous day here.  It marked the ten year anniversary of Sean and I graduating from veterinary school.  It’s making me a little nostalgic and reflective.

After Samantha was born, I went back to work only part time.  After Ella was born, I did only sporadic relief work.  Since Penelope has been around, I haven’t worked at all.  And I realized, really, being a mom and being a veterinarian are pretty much the same thing.

When we’re in school, we always heard that a pediatrician is probably the most comparable human specialty.  We both have patients that are brought in by another person. Both our patients frequently can’t communicate with us so we have to rely on that other person’s interpretation of events.  Both our patients are frequently scared and don’t understand what is going on.   We both practice a lot of preventative medicine and have to have an understanding of the whole patient.  We’re not just focused on one thing like a cardiologist or endocrinologist would be.  It’s really a pretty good analogy.  I’ve even had pediatricians say that they hear that they’re like veterinarians in school.

Well, it turns out, I’ve realized being a mother is a lot like being a veterinarian.  So in honor of my ten years as a veterinarian, here are the



Top 5 Ways Being a Parent is Like Being A Veterinarian

1. There’s A Lot Of Noise

Working at a veterinary clinic, you can pretty much guarantee some dog is barking all the time.  Then there are days when there is a dog with the whiniest, highest pitch, most ear splitting bark imaginable who won’t shut up. By mid-morning, you have a pounding headache and are wondering why there are no sound proof rooms in the clinic.

Sounds a lot like parenting.  It’s never quiet and some days, the screaming and fighting reach rock concert decibels and you wonder if you can install a sound proof booth in your house. For you.

2. No One Listens To You

As a vet, it’s pretty much guaranteed your patients won’t listen to you.  Most of them don’t listen to their owners, so you don’t stand a chance getting little Fluffy to sit or lay down when you want her to.  That probably isn’t too shocking to most people.  What you probably don’t realize if you’re not a vet, is that the owners also won’t listen to you.  You’ll tell them what you think is wrong with their pet and what you’d like to do about it. You’ll make estimates and write detailed to go home instructions.  You’ll label the medications clearly with take one twice a day, even highlighting it for them.  And still, you’ll spend the majority of your day dealing with clients calling to ask questions that you already answered, complaining about how much it’s costing and that they didn’t expect that, and wondering why their medication that they’re giving once a day isn’t working.  If you have a couple as owners, you’ll have to do it all twice.  You’ll feel like you would be more effective talking to the dog.

Same thing with kids.  I must repeat myself roughly thirty-two billion times a day.  I’ll give warnings that we’re going to stop playing and eat dinner in ten minutes, then five minutes, then two minutes.  And when two minutes is up? I’ll hear complaining and whining that I didn’t tell them they had to stop soon.  It’s like I’m Charlie Brown’s teacher, just background noise to them. I’d have as much luck getting them to listen to me if I were speaking in Swahili.

3. You Get Bit

Dogs and cats bite. It’s a natural defense mechanism and a job hazard being a vet.  You try to avoid it. You get pretty good at reading body language and using muzzles or a good scruff if needed. But inevitably, you will get bit. It happens. You chalk it up to a bad day, wash the thing out, slap on a band-aid, and get back to work.

Turns out, kids bite too. Teething babies, angry toddlers, playful nibbles that are a little too hard. It happens. If you’re a parent, you’re going to get bit.  Since I’ve been home with my kids, I’ve been bit way more than I ever was at work.  Thinking of it, do they make kid muzzles?

4. Bath Time Sucks

As a vet, medicated baths are part of the deal.  Mostly, staff members do them. I did them when I worked kennels. It’s some of the dues you have to pay to get to wear the white coat.  But there are occasions when the clinic is busy and the staff members are needed on more pressing matters than a bath, so you have to do one.

Have you ever given a dog a bath? It smells, like wet dog. You get soaked. Your mascara runs down your face. The dog tries to jump out of the tub, flailing and slipping around, sometimes taking you down with it. It sucks.  Ever given a cat a bath? I hope you never have and will never have to. They don’t like it. It’s like trying to bathe a running chain saw, you almost always end up a little bloody.

Turns out, kids don’t like baths either.  They might like to play in the water, but they don’t like the soap/shampoo part.  They scream and fight and get water in their eyes.  And since ,apparently, all bath water is made of acid, they scream about how it burns even though you haven’t even put the shampoo in.  Then they won’t stand up when you want them to, or they won’t sit down, and they slip and fall, and you get soaked.  If you do manage to make it through the bath dry, you’ll be wet by the time you’ve managed to dry them off.

5. The Poop Factor

Being a veterinarian, you deal with a lot of poop.  Pets get diarrhea and people bring in samples for you to analyze. There are litter boxes.  There are patients who poop in the front office, the exam room, and on the exam table.  Those diarrhea patients? If they have long fur, it’s caked to their bottoms and it gets on you when you touch them.  Then there are those days where every where you go, you  smell poop.  It’s like it’s stuck in your nose and it’s driving you crazy.  Then you realize it’s on your shirt, or your pants, or your shoes.  Then you realize you have no idea how long it’s been there or who it came from.

Kind of like being a parent.  There’s diarrhea and blow out diapers.  And the toddler who learns to take off their diaper and leave it full side down on the carpet.   And the child who, after taking a bath but before you can get clothes on them, takes a dump on the floor and walks through it, requiring another bath (that they scream about.)  And I’m sure we’ve all had days when we realize we have poop on our clothes and no idea how long it’s been there.

So, after ten years, even though I’m no longer working as a vet, I haven’t really lost anything.  Parenting is pretty much the same thing.

Is your job similar to being a parent?

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12 Responses to “Who Knew My Veterinary Training Would Pay Off in Parenting”

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  1. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    Twitter: kristinglas

    What is this job thing you speak of? ;)
    I grew plants, there was lots of dirt and water and frustration. That’s the same. On the plus side plants don’t talk back. But they don’t hug either.

  2. NotJustAnotherJennifer
    Twitter: MidwestMomments

    So cute! My job has only one similarity and that’s some days it feels like no one listens to me. Great post!

  3. AZLB
    Twitter: azlb

    ahh right now the poop comment resonates with me…we are having issues with our puppy and its like poop city in the houe! Fun times.

  4. Kid Id
    Twitter: diaperdiatribe

    Great post. You know, I’ve often thought the same thing about my job as an administrator. No, there’s no handling of employee poop – um, well, now that I think about it, there’s lots of handling of their metaphorical poop. Most is about validating hurt feelings and speaking slowly and repeating myself a lot. And lots of explaining. And a whole lot of breaking the fight up by listening to both sides and coming up with compromises that any reasonable adult should be able to come up with. And I did have to do one behavior chart… Yikes!

  5. Moomser
    Twitter: moomser

    Always good to remember that our hard-won university degrees are still put to good use!
    Also, had never actually thought that there was that much poop involved in being a vet… the things one doesn’t think of…

  6. The Drama Mama
    Twitter: poopscoopinmama

    You already know how I feel about life’s poop. ;) I also get the not listening, and you forgot to add that kids can talk back too. I know the dogs and cats did it, and kids do too. LOL.