A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Learn what a "typical" day is like working in a veterinary career

A veterinarian observes a puppy
Skeeze / Pixabay / Creative Commons

Part of a continuing series. See the archive for more Day in the Life stories.

I have worked as an employee veterinarian and as a relief veterinarian, so I have experienced many different office schedules, coworkers, and clients. The following is a "typical" day gleaned from all of these experiences.

The day begins...

All animals that have arrived from the overnight emergency clinic or were brought in first thing are examined first.

If a pet needs surgery or hospitalization, they are admitted. The emergency clinic doctor usually calls to discuss any cases referred in from the emergency clinic.

This is followed by the morning rounds -- all patients currently in the clinic are examined and the owners phoned with progress reports. At the same time, animals being admitted for surgery are examined and the procedure discussed with the owner. After being admitted, the technicians (or doctor in some cases) draw blood samples for pre-anesthetic blood work.

Next, it is time for appointments or surgery. Personally, I like to do surgery as early in the day as possible. This allows the patient to recover throughout the day while plenty of staff are around to monitor progress.

Appointments range from new puppy or kitten visits, vaccinations, sick animals, checking lumps and bumps, suture removals, and the like. Sometimes there is an appointment for euthanasia.

The most common surgeries are spays, neuters, tumor removals, dental cleanings, and tooth extractions in the practices where I have worked.


Most clinics stop taking appointments for an hour or two over the lunch hour. With more than one vet, appointments continue and still allow each vet to take a lunch break.

Lunch is time to finish surgery, return phone calls, check on animals recovering from anesthesia, check on hospital patients, occasionally see an emergency appointment, and hopefully...eat lunch.

Afternoon to closing time

The afternoons are spent seeing more appointments. Sick and injured animals are examined and evaluated for stability. If an animal appears critical or needs monitoring overnight, they are referred to the emergency clinic. This requires owner transport and cooperation, but most owners are more than willing to take the extra step. Afternoon treatments are done for hospital cases, phone calls returned, and final notes made in records before the day ends. Once the clinic closes, most vets go home, and many continue to think about the cases of the day...getting ready for tomorrow.

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Text: Copyright © Janet Tobiassen Crosby. All rights reserved.