Four-year-olds will say anything…right?!
Frieda Hottenstine, however, followed through unwaveringly with her childhood exclamation to be “an animal doctor” when she grew up. With over twenty years of experience, Dr. Hottenstine thoroughly appreciates the delicate balance of loving what you do while loving where you work. Client handouts ready in hand, Florida clinics, please open your doors for some relief from this feline adoring veterinarian!


What inspired you to become a veterinarian?

I am told I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was 4 years old. My answer was “an animal doctor”. My answer never changed.


What roles have you had within the veterinary profession? How about outside of this industry?

I was an associate for many years. I also owned a small, 1 doctor practice in Connecticut for 17 years.


What made you switch to relief practice?

After running my practice alone for 17 years, I was burnt out. I was ready to leave clinical medicine.  I moved to Florida and worked as an associate for a year.  It was not a good fit, and I decided to try it on my own. Three years later I still love it. I like my job again.


What is your most memorable relief job?

Is there really just one?


How do you feel that relief practice supports the veterinary profession as a whole?

Relief veterinarians are definitely a needed commodity.  If I do my job right, I am reducing the stress and burden of a practice. My job is to make sure that the vet I am covering for has a relaxing break.


What are your favorite things about being a relief vet?

My stress level has reduced massively. I control my schedule. I can choose where I prefer to practice. I can also leave if I do not fit well.


What are your least favorite things about being a relief vet?

It is difficult to have any continuity.  At my prior practice, many clients turned into friends. I knew most if my clientele’s families. And I followed their pets throughout their lives, from birth to death.


What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?

I require a practice with a friendly, well-educated staff. Appointments should be scheduled with time to do quality medicine. Complicated follow-up appointments are usually not a good cases for relief vets to field – and especially not within a 15 minute timeslot.


What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?

Being a staunch advocate for client education, I always bring lots of handouts. And, yes, I also bring my own stethoscope, otoscope, and dog and cat treats.


Have you picked up any unique practice tips while being a relief vet? These could be related to medicine, workflow, practice organization, or anything really.

Oddly enough, I haven’t really picked anything new up. After nearly 31 years practicing, I have seen and learned a lot.


What advice would you give new relief vets? (Alternatively, what advice would you give someone who is thinking about being a relief vet?)

Relief is unpredictable.  Be ready to be very independent.  You have to handle things with new people, new protocols, and different drug availabilities each day.


How has the global pandemic affected your relief practice?

Luckily, my relief practice hasn’t changed much.


What states are you licensed in and/or states you are working to obtain licensure within?

Florida only now.


What are your hobbies / passions outside of work?

I am a hermit.  I honestly don’t really socialize and don’t know anyone but my sister in Florida.  I do knit a little!


Anything else you’d like to share?

For as long as I have been a veterinarian, my experiences have been vast.  And, luckily, I still love my job. I cannot imagine doing anything else.


To learn more about or contact Dr. Hottenstine, click here.