IndeVet stories: Finding balance inside — and outside — of vet med
Dr. Sarah Roth shares her story about how IndeVets helped her find balance inside — and outside — of the clinic.
My name is Dr. Sarah Roth, DVM and I am proud to be a veterinarian.
Like many veterinarians, my career was my dream since I was a child. I will never forget the day I got the call that I’d been accepted early into UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the sheer tears of joy that streamed down my face.
After I graduated, I got married and moved across the country to work my first job. I was so excited to finally be Dr. Sarah Roth, DVM!
What I didn’t know at graduation is what I was going to experience during my first two years in practice. Imposter syndrome was crushing and my anxiety had worsened once I had cases under my own care.
The practice I worked at had wonderful veterinarians and staff but the fast paced environment and need to work outside of my scheduled hours really took a toll on my mental health. I felt like I had no life, no respite, or rest when I was off of work.
I was burnt out just two years out of school; I didn’t enjoy going to work — in fact I dreaded it. All too often I felt like being a veterinarian limited me to just that — I didn’t have the space I needed to enjoy life outside of work. My dream since I was a kid was turning into a nightmare.
Prioritizing time for mental health
I decided to make a change and move to another clinic. The clinic had better work/life balance and I was more confident as a doctor so things were better. However, when COVID hit my anxiety spiked like so many others.
We moved from Washington state back to Atlanta, GA in August 2020 (in the middle of a global pandemic). In August of 2020, I had my first panic attack and I knew I had to make a change.
I started with IndeVets in September 2020 which was a welcome change to my career — I make my own schedule, I don’t have to make follow up calls (I do still check on cases because I want to know the diagnosis or how the patient fared) and when I was off I was off!
The balance I had from working with IndeVets helped my anxiety but it wasn’t enough. I started to enjoy being a veterinarian a little more but I was still extremely anxious especially around work so I decided to start therapy in fall 2020. Therapy helped but it wasn’t until I started anti-anxiety medications in 2021 that things really took a turn for the better. A new job, therapy and medication were the keys to make me enjoy life and being a veterinarian.
For the first time since I graduated I look forward to going to work; hard cases and long days and emergencies no longer stress me to the point of tears. I can take a deep breath, dive in and realize I will be OK! I know I am a better doctor because I chose to put my needs first.
Why I wanted to share:
I wanted to share my story because I feel like while there are some changes being made in our profession we still have a long way to go to reduce burnout, depression, compassion fatigue and suicide.
I want other doctors to know that it’s OK to put yourself first — find a job that fits your lifestyle better and recognizes that you are a person first, veterinarian second. Seek out help if you need it. I promise things can change for the better.
I love being a veterinarian now. I look forward to going to work and for the most part the days are great. Of course there are still days with hard cases and long hours but they are fewer and far between.
I love that IndeVets gives me the power to say no — no to working long hours and holidays and weekends unless I want to. The ability to truly be off when I am not working — to enjoy my life outside of veterinary medicine. I am so thankful I found this job— I feel supported as a person and a doctor and this is so important to me.
For me, being a veterinarian is my career — not my entire life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful, wonderful, fulfilling career but I am so much more than a veterinarian. I’m also a friend, wife, baker, dog mom, gardener, lover of outdoors and [hopefully] a mother someday soon.
Please recognize that our job is amazing and wonderful but it is also challenging. We shouldn’t have to struggle to get through our work days and we should be able to love our careers. Please advocate for yourselves — set boundaries, seek out help and make sure you put yourself first.
Dr. Sarah Roth is an Associate IndeVet practicing in Georgia.