Director of Clinical Excellence, Casey Robinson, DVM
Dr. Casey Robinson
Words by:
Casey Robinson, DVM — Director of Clinical Excellence, Mid-Atlantic & Upper Midwest

Throughout veterinary school, all I could think about was how thrilling it was going to be to finally practice veterinary medicine after graduation. This is certainly a profession that many have romanticized since childhood. I know I did. Unfortunately, the harsh realities of veterinary medicine often abolish that excitement and replace it with feelings of bitterness and hostility after only a few years of practice. This was my experience as an associate veterinarian at a general practice. I had been practicing for only five years when I began to feel trapped and constantly stressed (with 0 support) due to the tremendous pressures that are placed on the general practice veterinarian. I thought most of my stress would come from the hands-on care of animals. What they don’t tell you in vet school is that animal care is just one of many of the daily stressors of the job. Compounding this is often feeling stuck as an associate without deliberate career progression. There are no “career tracks” as an associate vet that can sometimes make the grind worth it. Knowing there is a next step can serve as a bit of Davis Hydrocortisone Cream to tide you over until that next step. At best, you keep up with your CE and grab advice from other colleagues experiencing the same thing over a cup of coffee in the break room. I often felt very alone in that regard.


Not accepting the status quo

Eventually, all of these feelings became so debilitating that I had to make a change. That’s when I found IndeVets. My introductory call with Dr. Andrew Heller, Co-Founder of IndeVets, was invigorating. I knew this was the right choice for me. Making the move to what I thought was standard relief medicine was uncomfortable, but IndeVets is not so much a relief job as it is a totally new way to be a vet (in the best possible way). It has its roots in relief with tons of flexibility, but that’s about where that analogy ends. I was able to practice as a full-time associate the way I wanted, but in multiple clinic and hospital settings. Some hospitals were great, and some weren’t the right fit for me—but when the fit wasn’t right, I was encouraged to try somewhere else and not guilted into “sticking it out.” I was truly in complete control of not only when I worked, but where.

After only four months, I found that my mood improved, I developed a healthier relationship with veterinary medicine, and I was a much more present father and husband for my wife and then 6-month-old son. I felt lucky that I found a new way to be a veterinarian and was so excited for my future with IndeVets.


Opportunities to Grow & Learn

The idea of leadership had always interested me, but I honestly never had anyone ask me about it much less give me the chance to grow that part of my skill set. I dabbled in some clubs during veterinary school and took on some informal leadership roles at some of the hospitals where I practiced, but I never had any opportunity to hold a formal leadership role. They didn’t exist.

I learned through the interview process with IndeVets that there was a path to greater leadership and responsibility beyond being an Associate IndeVet. There were opportunities to be Regional or Area Medical Directors, Veterinary Success Advisors, or Lead Vets, to name a few.

In February 2022, IndeVets was looking for a new Area Medical Director for my region. This position included both clinical and non-clinical responsibilities—something I didn’t realize the full value of when considering the role. After several interviews, I was awarded the position and started my true, veterinary leadership journey. Learning the non-clinical responsibilities of the role was a bit overwhelming and certainly pushed me outside of my comfort zone but I was amazed (and reassured) at the level of mentorship and support I received during my 6-week training period. (Yes, I said training period! I wasn’t just thrown into the role). This included helping me identify my strengths and weaknesses and then working together to highlight those strengths and improve my weaknesses. I soon realized how much I could bring to this role and that my interpersonal skills would really contribute to my success. I thrived at supporting doctors, navigating tough situations alongside them, and communicating with colleagues.  At the same time, I was still practicing in clinic regularly, so I was also growing as a clinician. Continuing to see cases allowed me to connect with my doctors as a fellow clinician, not just as their manager.

Over the next two years, I continued to grow as a leader, becoming more immersed in the company. Fortunately, the mentorship I received continued after the initial training for this position, and I was constantly learning new tactics and protocols. I thrived as an Area Medical Director and formed great relationships with both doctors and my colleagues at headquarters.

Knowing that I wanted to continue to grow with the company – and continue to elevate my position within the clinical leadership team – I ensured that I volunteered for those extra small tasks that add up to making a big difference. The company was growing, and it was growing fast. As growth often requires change, the company’s structure was changing, too. With this change came a new role—Director of Clinical Excellence that entailed transitioning some of the Area Medical Directors into the next-level leadership opportunity. I was delighted to move into this role since it pushed me forward and helped me to grow as a leader. It came as no surprise, IndeVets leadership was once again extremely supportive throughout this transition. This role has been amazing for me—it has helped me grow personally and professionally. During this journey, our family welcomed our second child – a baby girl. IndeVets supported me entirely and happily covered my responsibilities while I took four weeks of paid parental leave. My return to work was seamless, and the company continued supporting me as I reintegrated work into my now chaotic family life. Now, I can spend more time with my family after a full day at a job that I genuinely love–this is what I have always wanted!


Navigating Challenges and Embracing Growth

The road from Associate IndeVet to Area Medical Director to Director of Clinical Excellence certainly presented its challenges. Leadership requires confidence, autonomy, flexibility, and empathy. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with confidence professionally. I suffered from Imposter Phenomenon while in practice, and I have had the same destructive thoughts throughout my leadership journey. Fortunately, with the help of IndeVets’ leadership and our Veterinary Social Worker, I am slowly working through this and am making strides daily. I am inherently an empathetic and flexible person. Autonomy was something that I had to work on due to the ever-present fear of making a mistake. I eventually realized that these mistakes were crucial to my leadership maturation. With steady guidance from our veterinary leadership team, I was able to dissect these mistakes and learn from them to avoid making them in the future.

In my current role, I encounter new and novel challenges multiple times a week, and some requiring in-depth analysis and prompt decision-making. IndeVets has provided me with the tools necessary to navigate these issues accordingly as they arise. And fortunately, when I am at a loss as to what to do, they are there to help me work through it. As I mature, I find that I can make more autonomous decisions. I am so fortunate that IndeVets has helped me grow from a happy Associate IndeVet to an even happier Director of Clinical Excellence. There are other small hurdles that I have encountered over the past two years, but that is to be expected in any role and I have never felt alone as an IndeVet. Not once.

The dedication and time that IndeVets has invested in helping me become the leader I am today still astounds me.

I look forward to continued growth in my current role and making it my own. I know I will receive the encouragement and guidance from IndeVets necessary to take the next step as a leader. Furthermore, I know at the same time I will also be receiving the support needed to be a present father and husband at home.

I am excited about the years to come at IndeVets working alongside a really great group of individuals. I am so grateful I found IndeVets. I never imagined being a vet could be this fulfilling.