PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Fall 2021 - 21

A Non-Traditional Career for
a Traditional Veterinarian:
Stepping Out of Clinical
Practice and Into Academia
By Jayne Kubat, DVM
After five years in clinical practice, I found myself yearning for a
change. It wasn't the medicine or my coworkers-the practice
had an excellent standard of care and a lovely staff-it was
the grind. I prided myself on being a thorough and efficient
practitioner, though I didn't realize that my strength was also my
weakness; I burnt myself out fairly quickly.
Realizing that the life I envisioned-one with a family and
hobbies and without exhaustion and decision fatigue-was
incompatible with the way I was working, I searched for a way
out.
I had previously believed that a veterinarian could do anything
with her degree, but I quickly realized a veterinary degree alone
would not suffice; many career paths required specialization,
a PhD, or an MPH. I turned to colleagues I met through the
PVMA Power of 10 Scholarship Program as well as the Veterinary
Information Network (VIN) who encouraged me to think how
I'd like to work, rather than what I'd like to do. I prioritized set
working hours, time off, and the ability for continued intellectual
growth.
I ended up with a full-time position in a veterinary technology
program, which I paired with relief work at the local specialty
practice. While I enjoyed the work, my family and I did not like
our new location and struggled to find a community. Knowing
our current location was untenable and fearing a return to
clinical practice and the associated burnout, I applied to PhD
programs, hoping I could eventually teach at a four-year college
or university or return to research, which I enjoyed as an
undergraduate.
In the midst of my graduate school applications, I saw a
job for an adjunct professor at my alma mater, Bucknell
University. Bucknell was looking for an instructor for Anatomy,
Physiology, and Microbiology, all courses I had previously taught
to veterinary technology students. I decided to throw my hat
in the ring, but didn't expect to be a competitive candidate,
and I was worried about notoriously low adjunct pay. I was
both surprised and delighted to be selected for the position,
especially once I found out it was full time with benefits.
I have just completed my first year at Bucknell and could not be
happier. I work predominantly with pre-health students, and I
am continuously impressed by their enthusiasm and aptitude.
As a bonus, I am often asked to participate in research projects
on campus even though I don't perform scholarship in my role.
I have consulted on a variety of species ranging from turtles to
baboons and have found the work both exciting and humbling
(there is so much to learn!).
Lastly, the academic calendar allows me to stay current within
veterinary medicine. I have been able to use breaks to locum
at general practices and large referral hospitals. Seeing how
overwhelmed practices have been during the pandemic, I have
also started a small home euthanasia business, which is a service
our local practitioners can no longer provide.
Many of my colleagues have been surprised by my career path (I
have been, too!). I hope that by sharing my experiences, I'm able
to continue the dialogue about burnout and retention within
our profession.
About the Author: Jayne Kubat, DVM, is a professor in the
Department of Biology at Bucknell University. Outside of the
classroom, Dr. Kubat provides relief services, runs a home
euthanasia business, and provides veterinary care for different
species on Bucknell's campus. She is a faculty advisor for the
Bucknell Women's Rowing Team and the Bucknell Chapter of the
Student National Medical Association-Minority Association of
Premedical Students (SNMA-MAPS).
Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association | 21

PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Fall 2021

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