Life has a funny way of leading you to exactly where you’re supposed to be. My mother once gave me a card that read, “You are on the right path, because you are on your path.” This message stuck with me over the years, prompting me to forge my own unique path and find fulfillment in a field riddled with burnout.
I am, hands down, an introvert. As a child, I was shy, but if you showed me an animal I’d come right out of my shell. If my parents took me to a party or family gathering, I spent my time trying to befriend the household pets. My best neighborhood friend and I would hunt for snakes and frogs on our bike rides. I wanted to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist, which wasn’t a surprise to anyone.
If I wasn’t obsessing about animals, and doing rudimentary AOL research to present to my parents on potential pets that I NEEDED, my head was stuck in a book. Bonus points if the book involved animals, like the Brian Jacques Redwall series that I read through several times. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but writing came naturally to me, as well. Only when I read my older sister’s copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, and wrote a related school assignment, did my talent become apparent. My sixth-grade teacher had submitted the assignments, unbeknownst to the class, to a statewide “Letter to the Author” contest. I wrote poignantly about the book’s theme of race relations as seen through my 11-year-old eyes, and won the contest. The school gathered the sixth-grade classes and read my letter aloud as a surprise, and then held an assembly in my honor. Years later, another writing excerpt of mine was read aloud in my college prep composition course. On both occasions, I was uncomfortable with the attention.
Twists and turns—and flips and falls
During my childhood and teens, I also competed in gymnastics. In high school, I played a few other sports as well, and with all the activity came some major injuries. My high school athlete experiences developed my interest in science and medicine, and when the time came to decide on a college major, I pursued kinesiology, with the goal of becoming a physical therapist. Writing never crossed my mind as a career possibility, despite the talent I’d shown in previous years—I knew medicine was my path.
A few years in, I realized human medicine was NOT my path. I changed my major, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology, and tested out my childhood theory of wanting to work with animals. I worked in a veterinary clinic for a few months before being accepted into Purdue’s veterinary technology program, where I became a Certified Veterinary Technician.
The road so far
Most people ask why I chose to become a vet tech, and not a veterinarian. The answer is practical—a lower debt-to-income ratio, and what seemed to me endless opportunities to build a unique career. I wasn’t sure where my career would go, or how I’d get there, but I knew I’d find my niche eventually. I spent five years in a busy general practice, and then followed one of the veterinarians when she left to open a new Fear Free clinic. I loved fear-free medicine, but after a year there, I was burned out, and ready to leave the profession. Fortunately, l I stumbled upon an ad for a relief vet tech. I didn’t know this was a thing, but it was exactly what I needed.
For two years, I made my own schedule. If the shift didn’t work for me, they’d adjust it. Veterinary hospitals requesting help are in dire need, and they’re beyond grateful for your presence. Relief medicine was my burnout cure, but eventually I felt I needed a “home” again.
I landed a full-time role managing a small specialty clinic, where I learned an entirely new skill set. Then the pandemic hit, and everything fell apart. Half of our tiny staff left, the practice took years to rebuild, and again fell apart because of toxicity. This was the hardest job I ever had, and deciding to leave was extremely emotional.
The path to Rumpus
While I was managing the specialty office, Melissa, a friend from the vet tech program at Purdue, mentioned she had left her clinic job to write full time. I texted her for at least an hour about her new job, how she got it, what she wrote about, and whether she was happy—she was. I was working 55-hour weeks, and knew I couldn’t possibly take on anything else, but kept the possibility in my back pocket. When things broke down at the clinic, I transferred to another location, where I reduced my hours dramatically, which left time for writing.
I reached out to Angela at Rumpus, sent her a writing sample, and Rumpus brought me on as a freelance writer in December 2021.
As a freelancer, I mostly write pet-owner-facing blog posts. I get to blend my veterinary knowledge and writing skills to create something unique and fulfilling. I can balance my reduced clinic hours with assignments that I complete on my own time, from my own home—I couldn’t ask for much more, and I can’t wait to see where my path continues to take me.
I am so fortunate to have found a work-life balance that works for me, because most veterinarians and their support staff scramble to find time for basic daily self-care, let alone to sit down and write a blog post. Let Rumpus take care of the writing for you—contact us here.