Make the New Year a ROO Year with Veterinary Relief

Lisa Tynan
December 29, 2020

Is Relief on your Radar?

The times, they are a’changing. The veterinary industry? It’s changing, too, albeit at a slightly more leisurely pace. For example, a profession that used to be predominantly made up of men is now skewing in the other direction, with nearly 80% of vet school graduates being women. In fact, that number may be even higher now. And with the increasing prevalence of corporate hospital chains, how veterinarian and vet techs practice is evolving, too.

Alongside an ever-expanding body of knowledge regarding the importance of work-life balance and self care, the veterinary industry is finally beginning to reflect veterinary professionals’ desire to lead a life that consists of more than just work. And one way that change is taking hold is in the broader acceptance of full-time relief work as a viable option.

What is relief?

Think of relief vets and techs as lifesavers for clinics. High-quality substitutes, filling in when permanent staff is unavailable. If the associate veterinarian is on maternity leave, a relief vet can seamlessly slip into the team, keeping the hospital running smoothly. If a vet tech hasn’t taken a vacation in 3 years, a relief tech can pop into the clinic for a day or two, giving that overworked tech the time off he deserves.

Relief can be a side hustle, filling in scheduling gaps for an extra paycheck, or it can be the whole shebang, offering a life full of variety and new experiences. Working as a relief vet or tech gives folks the ability to control their own schedule - how much they make and where they work is generally up to them. In fact, so many hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand of a, well, demanding pet-owning population that they are willing to pay a premium to be fully staffed. Relief vets and techs can make more money working fewer days, if they play their cards right.

How does Relief Fit into Your Career?

There is a wide variety of ways that vets and techs fit relief into their careers. For the ‘moonlighters’, relief is a once-or-twice-a-month sort of thing. It can be a way to hone those skills that get neglected in everyday work, like high-volume spay and neuter. A couple hundred bucks, a few times each month, can add up to a vacation or a home renovation in no time.

For some, relief work is a more significant part of their income. If a technician is in school and only works part-time at a clinic, relief can fill in the gaps during weekends or overnights. And because relief allows for schedule control, there’s usually a lot more flexibility when life gets a little bit chaotic, as it is wont to do.

And then there are the relief junkies - the practitioners who lead an untethered life. Some choose to rotate between a few nearby hospitals, others pack up an RV and work in whatever state they can get licensed. The freedom that comes along with a life of relief work can be tempting, especially if it means getting to see the country.

What Does Relief Mean for my Benefits?

Possibly the biggest question mark when it comes to veterinary relief is what to do about benefits. Without a full- or part-time job to provide those, it gets slightly more complex but definitely not prohibitively so. Obviously if there’s a family member who can cover health insurance that is easiest, but the insurance marketplace offers new and affordable options for self coverage. And taxes? Well, a CPA can be immensely helpful in determining quarterly taxes and whether or not to set up an LLC. Roo chatted with a full-time relief vet to gain some perspective on that very thing.

Some may opt to manage their relief business entirely on their own because they relish the control, and others are happy to let someone like Roo help them find when and where to work. It’s all a matter of personal choice!

How do I get started?

Anyone just out of vet school knows that there’s a huge push to find immediate employment and sign a multi-year contract right away, but that doesn’t have to be the way things happen forever. Relief work means even more opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. With Roo, it's completely free to join, and there's no membership fee. There's no risk to giving it a try. Create an account and start small - take a relief shift here and there, and get a taste for the freedom it offers.

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