Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Married to the job: how do you leave veterinary practice?

Beach, leaving veterinary practice
Leaving practice: its a bit trickier than simply closing the door and running off to the beach!

Practice ownership, I am told, is something like marriage. It’s an immersive, 24-7, all-encompassing, stressful, wonderful, and full on ride. But what happens if you want to leave the profession? It’s not a casual relationship you can just walk out on. You can’t just resign and disappear into the sunset. There are employees, clients, financial loose ends, factors like succession planning and then there’s the question of what you do with yourself afterwards.

So I was fascinated to hear about a course designed for thoseconsidering leaving the profession. We know that being a veterinarian or nurse is a hard thing to let go of (see our interview with Sarah Page-Jones here).

We asked one of the speakers, Dr Vera Pickering, a bit about why it can be tricky to leave practice.

What are the challenges of leaving veterinary practice?

If you’ve been working full time for many years, being a vet is a big part of who you are – self-worth, identity, efficient time organisation. You have to reinvent some of yourself and still feel you are worthwhile and can achieve.

What sort of things do veterinarians need to consider when leaving the profession?

  • Need to keep busy physically as well as intellectually.
  • Keep in touch with veterinary relationships built up over time.
  • How to build new interests and relationships.

What do vets do after veterinary practice?

Some stay in the vet arena - working part time, mentoring individuals and businesses. Some develop other business interests. Others develop other friendships, skills,volunteering and sporting interests, e.g sailing, petanque, golf, hiking, fishing, working in refuges, helping the aged etc.

[Ed. I had to look up petanque]. 

Remembering that many have families with parents/children/grandchildren which take up a lot of time. Travelling is a big one on most lists, as a full-on work life often limits this.

It is distressing to suddenly feel that you are doing/achieving nothing in a day after having a full work life (applies to any full time fulfilling work), so there is a big adjustment to be made in having to think about what you are going to do, rather than have the work come to you. Easy for one to think of all the things one wants to do, but not actually do them.

Which is why planning helps. Thank you Vera for this food for thought. If you’re interested in learning more, check out VetPrac's course here. And just in case you're wondering no, we're not thinking of leaving veterinary practice, but its nice to see that those who are have some access to helpful resources, as selling any kind of business and changing your work life can be pretty stressful.