Take It From a Doctor: These 7 Rules Will Positively Impact Your Career

Work these seven simple, yet effective rules into your life and you’ll set the stage for a successful veterinary career.
Greg Kelly
Published: January 10, 2018
My father set a fine example as both a man and a doctor. As a fellow medical practitioner, he respected the veterinary profession. He knew how well trained and capable veterinarians are, as well as how hard they work. He believed the abilities of veterinarians are equal to those of medical doctors.

His nearly 50-year long career as a doctor came at an optimal time to practice medicine — the 1950s to the 1990s were what you might call “glory years” for the profession. As a veterinarian, you might want to consider some of the things my father did well. These seven simple rules had a substantial impact on my father’s life and career and could have a huge impact on yours, as well.

1. Find balance.
Today’s practicing veterinarians put in a lot of hours, but as I look back on my father’s long career, I realize he was able to find the right balance between time and money. Somehow he made time for himself. Perhaps it was because he had the money (and many doctors do) and was able to take the time (sadly, too many doctors don’t).

2. Find a hobby for life.
Today’s busy veterinarians are showing signs of stress and sadness — perhaps worse than any other medical profession. My father was a man of varied interests. He was a voracious reader, advocate for education, collector of Native American culture, dedicated golfer, horseman, sailor, photographer, champion diver, gymnast, and fan of sports, ballet and music. “You need a ready escape,” he would tell me.

3. Have a money plan.
Developing a personally suitable financial strategy is a must. You’ll never reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. Every doctor worries about funding a retirement plan, paying for college and having enough life insurance. My father did well here. He didn’t live extravagantly, ate his meals at home and vacationed on a budget. He funded his retirement plan by investing in good companies and riding out stock market storms.

4. Find a money man.
This may have been my father’s best money move. He found a trusted financial guru — his brother-in-law. Investing mostly in blue-chip stocks and mutual funds, anchored by a buy-and-hold philosophy, they grew a modest $25,000 investment into nearly $1.3 million at its peak.

5. Start right.
Always eat a good breakfast. In my more than 20 years in his household, I never remember my father skipping breakfast. He called his morning breakfast the “most important meal of the day,” giving him the energy he needed to proceed with his day — a tough doctor’s day, that is.

6. Maintain your weight.
My father, who was able to fit into the same tuxedo at events 50 years apart, kept a consistent weight throughout his life. Although he himself was a slender person, he said even heftier people could keep good health if they kept their weight within a 5- to 10-pound fluctuation range over a long course of time.

7. Take brief vacations.
About eight to 10 times a year my father would leave behind his worries and make a brief trek to a spot where he could unwind. His usual companions on these jaunts were his doctor friends. The trick was in the brevity and frequency of the breaks, where he would never be overwhelmed when he returned.

Greg Kelly is a long-time health care writer and editor. He has written for the Physician’s Money DigestTM, Dentist’s Money DigestTM and Veterinarian’s Money DigestTM websites. He lives at the Jersey Shore and welcomes comments at gregkelly@monmouthbeachlife.com.

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