Vet love: how the vet profession is more like Grey's Anatomy than you'd think
In vet schools across America today romance is in full bloom. And I’m not just talking about the students. My four years in vet school were very entertaining in this respect, especially with my fly-on-the-wall viewpoint as a then-married person.
Students went with students and occasionally with faculty (horrors!) or residents. Faculty and residents liaised with whomever they pleased. Straight, gay, extramarital, whatever…academia is a notorious breeding ground for all sorts of romantic relationships, couth and uncouth. Vet schools, I learned, were no exception. In fact, compared to other schools and academic programs I`ve experienced, vet school beat them all for extremes of insular interaction.
While I have no concrete stats to dazzle you with, it was clear to me then that (at least within the ivory tower) vets liked to be with vets. Many faculty members were married or otherwise engaged with other vets. We students rarely dated outside our own circle—perhaps because we had no free time outside it, but also (I believe) by choice. Somehow I managed to escape vet school with both dignity and marriage intact.
After school, I began to take note of similar hospital romances across the wide spectrum of vetdom. Vets engaged with techs, office managers, receptionists and other vets. I guess it happens in all fields but I believe there’s something about the intensity, isolation and insularity of the profession that lends itself especially well to romance.
Was it just by way of convenience or was it something deeper? I wondered.
But for all that speculation I have to confess that I didn’t quite understand the phenomenon. After I was divorced eight years I recall stating outright that I would never hook up with a vet. And I meant it. Why partner with someone who’s likely to have all your odious personality quirks and daytime stresses? What’s the point?
Here’s a perfect example of why you should never say never: I now date a vet.
My boyfriend and I had our first date after I asked him out via telephone, sight unseen. Can I ask you a personal question? I ventured. Ummm…(long pause)…sure. Do you date? Ummm…(long pause)…sure. Would you have dinner with me? Ummm…(longer pause)…sure.
That was almost three years ago. He was my favorite surgeon to send my toughest cases to. Great phone voice. Great skills. And I had excellent reports on his bedside manner (don’t read into that)—one referred client rolled her eyes languidly and exclaimed: You’d be stupid not to go out with him! Challenged thus, how could I refuse the suggestion?
Since reneging on my promise to keep all vets at a professional arm’s length, I`ve had occasion to rekindle my guesswork on the nature of vet-to-vet romances. (And this applies to all of you vet-wannabees and animal industry people, too.)
My working theory? You have to be a tad subversive and more than a little idealistic to want to be a vet. You’re not just drawn to what you love, you’re willing to go to any length necessary to get it—and keep it. And you work so hard at it that it seems senseless not to ally with a like-minded personality.
The problem—in vet medicine as in love—is that idealism often fades and what was once a brilliant undertaking yields to drudgery. I see so many vets fail in both for these reasons—and when romance reflects the workplace (and especially when it takes place within its walls), failures often evolve spectacularly. (Grey’s Anatomy is not just a clever TV show…it happens.)
So what is a besotted vet to do? Luckily, love gives us few choices. And it’s a fun ride, if nothing else. I could say a lot more but I think I`ve already said too much in my wandering sort of a way. If I said any more, I think my S.O. would question my motives. (Really, I swear I’m not angling for jewelry this Christmas.)