Sunday, January 28, 2007

After I earn my DVM

On Friday, we had a panel presentation/discussion about internships and residencies after graduation. Unlike med school, vet students can go into practice right away, but post-graduation programs are becoming more and more common as more vets are specializing rather than just being general practitioners. For those who really want to specialize and become board-certified, you pretty much have to do a residency (3-year program). For those who just want more experience learning all that stuff that they don't have time to teach in school (like, er, most surgeries), you can do an internship (1-year program). Both pay poorly, if at all. The average starting salary of a new graduate is almost $60,000, but the average paid internship is $16-$20,000. Nothing to sneeze at, but compared to what you could be making.... But then, of course, having done an internship can increase your starting salary when you do start by $20,000, and can make it easier to find a job.

Residencies are pretty much all at academic institutions (like the U of MN teaching hospital), but internships can be either in academia or in private practice. The scary thing is that, depending on what you want an internship/residency in, you are sort of at the mercy of the match program as to where you'll spend that year or three. One speaker said that she spent the year in New York while her husband was in Minnesota, and that she kind of liked it that way because you don't have enough time for an internship and a relationship at once. Plus, depending on the program, you may or may not have time to ever visit home. Another person said that out of 365 days, she had 2 days when she didn't need to be at the hospital.

So. Since I'm interested in exotics, and since Minnesota doesn't have a whole lot to offer, I sort of planned on doing an internship. And a lot of people really recommend it. And it's "only" a year. But geez... it starts to feel like there's never a light at the end of the tunnel. When do I get to start real life?

A quick update on the Pooh- she is still acting funny, but she's also had a weepy eye all weekend, so that might be making her a little punky (I think she pushed one of the cats too far- I knew she'd get a thwack in the eye eventually). That is looking better today, so maybe she'll perk up. I'm trying some new anxiety-fighting tricks, too, including this goofy-looking thing called a Focus Ball. It's like a Kong, but with softer, more chewy rubber and a canvas rope. I stuffed it with yogurt and froze it, and it kept her busy for nearly an hour. She now has a big smile and is acting like my normal girl. Must remember to refill the Focus Ball... Lucky girl gets to go play with Heidi's puppies all day tomorrow while we study neuro. Step 2 in anxiety reduction may be enrolling her in Paws in the Park doggy daycare. It's right near school and the apartments, so I could drop her off in the morning and pick her up at lunch one or two days a week. It is a little pricey, but if I can get any effective alternative to drug therapy I'm all for it.

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