Written by Michael W. Miller, DVM
When I started my Harry Potter Vet blog, I was at a crossroads in my career. I was unsatisfied. I was looking for something different.
The examples I was seeing amongst my friends and colleagues faced with a similar career turning point all seemed to end with drastic job changes: leaving general practice, moving across the country, starting a brand-new business, going back to school … All of these sounded so exciting… and also seemed like horrible options for me.
At that point, I had become a co-owner at my practice, gotten married, and was about to start a family. Uprooting my life was not what I wanted to see in my crystal ball. (Not that that is wrong for other people – just that I knew myself enough to realize that was not the future I wanted.)
Creating my Harry Potter Vet blog became a way to relieve my work-induced anxiety. Escaping into the Vetstagram community to make connections with others who like Harry Potter and vet med helped me find fulfillment I had been missing. I was able to continue in my current job with a new perspective, looking for and finding magic as a general practitioner.
As this side project grew, I started to find others who had done something similar. My initial instinct was to follow their example. Maybe I could turn my Harry Potter Vet blogs into traveling for speaking engagements and attracting social media sponsorships.
But then the birth of my first son and the loss of my mother caused me to re-evaluate my ultimate goals. I seemed to be following a path laid out by others like me, but it was not the path I wanted to take. I wanted to spend more time home with my family, not less. Once again, an example of exactly what I envisioned doing did not seem to exist already. Did that mean I should not go that way?
To take this topic to a wizarding metaphor, let’s think about some career advice from Professor Dumbledore.
Dumbledore reassures Harry at the end of the Chamber of Secrets with a quote that I had posted on the bulletin board above my desk during vet school: “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”
Our career choices in veterinary medicine are not pre-determined by our abilities. They are also not limited by the examples set by those who came before us.
I hope that is a lesson of veterinary magic that will stick with you: Your career in veterinary medicine can be whatever you want it to be.
Read that again.
Your career in veterinary medicine can be whatever you want it to be…
… even if you do not see someone like you doing it, like Lupin becoming the first werewolf to teach at Hogwarts.
… even if others say you cannot do it, like Hermione taking classes scheduled at the exact same time.
… even if the obstacles in your way seem insurmountable, like when Harry did not know where to look for the next Horcrux.
… even if your life must make big changes to make it happen, like Dumbledore giving up on his world trip after graduating from school.
That last example from Dumbledore seems the most applicable to my recent career decisions.
When opportunities were developing for me, I chose to put my family first. Dumbledore’s example shows that taking a pause to be there for your family does not prevent you from ultimately having a meaningful impact in your profession.
Later in life, even while some wizards scoffed at Dumbledore for continuing to turn down the job of Minister of Magic, he decided to focus on educating young witches and wizards. His abilities suggested a certain career path, but his choices allowed him to follow the path that was right for him.
Let me leave you with one final thought from another perspective: When you find your place in veterinary medicine, please share the story of your success. Even if you do not lead others to follow your specific path, sharing your example may help inspire colleagues to find their own way.
I am so thankful to all the veterinary colleagues who have demonstrated that creating an individualized career path is one of the most magical aspects of veterinary medicine. Even though my current professional life does not exactly match any of those examples, it is only possible because of the inspiration from them. They validate what Dumbledore said as it pertains to our profession: that discovering the magic in your vet med career depends on your choices, more than your abilities.
Harry Potter Vet
Discovering the magic in veterinary medicine