…But you can’t do EVERYTHING you want. I first heard this principle applied to high-income professionals with respect to their personal finances and I love it. I use it when I teach the senior vet students about personal finances. If you want, you can: 1) Live in LA, 2) Buy a new BMW, 3) Send your kids to private school, OR 4) Retire early. But you CANNOT: live in LA AND buy a new BMW AND send your kids to private school AND retire early. You won’t make enough. This isn’t a money problem- there are physicians earning $400k who can’t do this. There just isn’t enough money there. This is a spending problem. How does this apply to your professional progression?
You can: 1) Fail organic chem, 2) Only get 1 letter of recommendation from a veterinarian, 3) Spend your free time with friends instead of getting leadership positions in clubs, 4) Have little experience in a vet clinic, OR 5) get into your state school. But you CANNOT: fail organic chem, only get 1 letter of recommendation from a veterinarian, have no leadership roles, have little clinic experience, and get into your state school. This isn’t an “organic chem is hard” problem. This is an “I’m not able or willing to put the effort in” problem.
Am I saying there’s NO ONE in the world that’s ever achieved this? Of course not. Am I saying that it’s just this side of impossible, and you shouldn’t plan your life as if you’re going to win the lottery? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
So what’s the point of this? The point is that you CAN make mistakes. You CAN mess up your application. You CAN vomit during your interview. Try not to worry about it if you have a single flaw on your application. But you can’t slack off. You can’t be bad at science and not make that deficit up elsewhere on your application. If you want to get a highly competitive position, you have to BE highly competitive. There are dozens or hundreds of other applicants for the position you want. You can’t slack off on all aspects of your application.
If you find you don’t like science, don’t like leadership, don’t like working with people, and don’t want to put in the hours…. Maybe being a veterinarian isn’t for you. There are plenty of other careers where you get to work with animals. Choose something that is more in line with what you are good at.
Some people are unable to put the work in. Maybe they get migraines after being in bright light for more than 4 hours. Maybe their parents didn’t give them books to read when they were young so it’s hard for them to process new information. Maybe they have an addiction problem. There are plenty of reasons why people can’t be veterinarians. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t WANT it badly enough. We always tell people you can have it if you want it badly enough. But you know what? For some people, just wanting it isn’t going to cut it. Some people can’t be veterinarians.
You can make a misstep or two in your life and still get to vet school, or an internship, or a competitive residency. But you cannot make a series of missteps. There are plenty of other people out there who don’t have ANY missteps. Which applicant do you think evaluators would prefer? You can do ANYthing you want, but not EVERYthing you want.