The answer: somewhere in the middle and, increasingly, closer to the bottom. This week, the University of Chicago reported results of its most recent study on job satisfaction. Clergy and artists came out first…waiters and bartenders dead last. Human docs? Somewhere in the middle, despite their high salaries, proving yet again that money doesn’t buy happiness.

(I couldn’t download their PDF, so I’m not really sure exactly where we vets ranked, but other similar studies have demonstrated a declining job-sat score for vets.)

So what do we vets have to complain about? We should be right up there with clergy. Nonetheless, widespread disillusion due to quality-of-life issues increasingly drags us down. Pay, high debt loads, seriously long work hours, family postponement, malpractice issues, compassion fatigue, etcetera. They all contribute to the kind of stress that yields high suicide rates for vets and, now, low job satisfaction stats.

Personally, I don’t get it. Sure, I work hard and I get paid less than my friends per worked hour (accountants, bankers, real estate investors, lawyers and even other vets) but how could I possibly complain?

My hours are more flexible than theirs. I’ll never lack for employment. I [generally] drive home feeling that I’ve done some tangible good in the world. Most of my friends can’t boast the same, nice cars though they might drive and fancy vacations though they might take.

Do I want all these things? Of course! I’m only human. But I don’t lie awake at night wondering why I can’t afford a Japanese tub, Pacific island vacations and two Mercedes like my investment banker friend in Sausalito. I certainly don’t envy him his job. (But I really want that tub.)

Filmmakers, artists, writers. That’s more my speed and far more worthy of job-envy. Brief pangs of jealousy are all the other ones elicit; and even they’re gone like nicotine cravings at the end of a long, dull lecture.

But it’s worrisome to think that our profession lacks for anything, especially given the lengths most of us have gone to get here.

Perhaps it’s all about expectations. If we expect pure bliss, we’ll certainly not find it in money, in relationships or in toys. And a job is no different. Trust me, going to vet school certainly won’t solve your problems. Having a positive outlook and looking for what you love in anything you do…that’s priceless.