What type of relief vet are you
Black and White headshot of IndeVets Employee Jess
Words by:
Jessica Nord, VMD — Associate IndeVet

As relief vets, we’re like the aunts and uncles of vet med. So what type of relief vet are you?  Are you more of an Aunt Viv, or an Uncle Jesse?  Read on…

If you haven’t heard the phrase “we’re like a big family here!” bandied about at a veterinary hospital, you’ve probably not been listening hard enough.

As globalization and corporatization of the veterinary market barrels forward, now more than ever veterinary teams and their clients are craving that good old-fashioned “family feel” at their local clinic.

The last 2 years have placed countless burdens on the veterinary team and, like any family by blood, have illuminated both the strengths and the weaknesses within our walls. We’ve seen that to give the best parts of ourselves to our clients and patients, we need to get ourselves in order first, as a house without a firm foundation is bound to be rocked by storms.

How relief vets fit into the veterinary “family”

“But I’m a relief veterinarian,” you say, “and I don’t see how I’m part of this genealogical analogy.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re mistaken—you play a critical role!

Relief veterinarians are like the aunts and uncles of the veterinary family: we come and go as needed, sometimes staying for a day, sometimes for a few months, acting as temporary leaders of the pack.

We have a sort of bonded detachment from our partner hospitals, allowing us to represent a new family each time we move on to another practice. This role allows us to bring gifts and wisdom to our families when we visit while giving everyone space so we don’t overstay our welcome.

The best part about being a relief aunt or uncle—I mean, veterinarian—is choosing what type of relative you want to be. Are you the doting type, or a bit more reserved? Do you run a tight ship, or are you a bit spacey? Let’s consider a few examples of classic aunts and uncles in media.

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Aunt Viv from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Firm but not stern, always put together but not flashy, Aunt Viv is the aunt-slash-mother figure we looked up to in the 90s. A PhD and professor, she knows her stuff but is never self-promotional.

Despite an already full plate of her own kids and career, Aunt Viv doesn’t bat an eye when she chooses to welcome her nephew, Will, into her home when he was struggling. Like Aunt Viv, you’re a no-nonsense type who opens your arms to new challenges and are quick to take staff under your wing when they need a boost.

 Aunt Bethany from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Best known for her unique twist on the traditional Jell-O mold and her creative Christmas packages, Aunt Bethany has been around the block a few times yet still maintains an upbeat attitude.

Your sweet nature provides comfort to those around you, even if the house is literally on fire.

If you’re like Aunt Bethany, you may need to be reminded where you are from time to time (didn’t Grace die 30 years ago? You just can’t keep up), but your co-workers know you have a good heart and will bring a little humor to their day.

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Uncle Ben from Spider-Man

A true sage of our time, Uncle Ben provides those he loves with the confidence they need to surmount even the most difficult adversity. He is protective of his family and is willing to face a bully or two on behalf of his nephew, Peter.

Uncle Ben knows that “with great power there must also come great responsibility,” ably imparting wisdom on the younger generations.

If you find yourself with a gaggle of team members raptly listening to your stories of a veterinary bygone era and seeking advice for the days to come, you might be an Uncle Ben.

Uncle Jesse from Full House

A bad boy on the outside but a softie at heart, Uncle Jesse is the perfect combination of edge and cool.

While he isn’t the paragon of responsible adulthood, he always steps up when his nieces need him and provides a youthful foil to Danny, the Tanner patriarch.

Like Uncle Jessie, you’re a boundary pusher who likes to do things on your own terms. You may trip and fall along the way in front of your team, but you’re continually willing to get back up and try again, all while sporting a slick hairdo. Have mercy!

Finding your role

So what kind of aunt or uncle are you? Take some time to think about who you want to be before your next shift.

In an ever-expanding world, we’re all craving meaning and fulfillment in our personal and professional lives, and there’s no better place to start than right at home in our hospitals—just try not to pull an aunt Bethany and accidentally wrap up one of your feline patients as a Christmas gift.

Dr. Jessica Nord is an Associate IndeVet practicing in South Carolina.

More from IndeVets:

Why am I seeing a relief vet?

Setting boundaries in vet med: Lessons from Disney’s Encanto

How I balance vet life and mom life

On grief and grieving: An ER vet’s tale