“Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul.”
But what if you could have both at the same time? Relief Rover member Dr. Kelly Zier has figured out a way as she travels the United States in her RV saving lives, soaking in the magnificent scenery, and creating memories. Kelly is open to practicing in any state and is currently licensed in CA, MD, OR, TX, NY, and VA. Read on to learn more about Kelly’s philosophy on combining work and wanderlust.
What inspired you to become a veterinarian?
I started riding around with my grandfather who was a mixed animal practitioner when I was 5 years old. When my parents couldn’t find a babysitter or summer camp was full, I spent days going on calls and holding barn kittens, instrument trays and “helping” to the best of my ability up until he passed away from cancer in 2005. I think being immersed in the field from a very young age really primed me for a career as a veterinarian. I found my real passion in veterinary medicine during my 3rd year of vet school when I went on a trip to South Africa. It was that trip that ignited my passion for wildlife medicine and really inspired me with a passion for my work.
What states are you licensed in and/or states you are working to obtain licensure within?
I am currently licensed in MD, NY, VT, TX, OR, CA, and CO. The next licenses I will be planning to obtain are my PA, CT, FL, GA and WA licenses. I was licensed in VA but need to renew to have it reinstated (which I plan on doing when I know I will be working there). I am also willing to get licensed in any state in which I have potential work available in!
What made you switch to relief practice?
I grew up in a family where traveling was the norm. My parents took my sister and I overseas and to several countries from a very young age. I love traveling, I also love Africa and wildlife medicine. I worked in private practice for 3 years following graduation, honing my skills in emergency medicine, surgery, dentistry, exotic, and mixed animal medicine and I realized that I was working so hard so that I could have extra time off to work in Africa or travel the world. It was brutal, working 7 day stints for 3 weeks straight to build up some extra time off so I could travel, and then I realized I can travel AND work at the same time. I also felt comfortable enough to set off on my own at that point. I did things a little differently than most, and bought an RV and then set up a full time travel relief company! I strongly believe in a work life balance and that the key to loving your role as a veterinarian is having the ample time away from the job to be able to relax and enjoy your life outside of veterinary medicine-this philosophy hasn’t steered me wrong yet and I’m still excited to go to work every day, feeling re-charged and healthy.
What are your favorite things about being a relief vet?
The freedom to make my own schedule. I can work a ton and then take a month off if I want to. I can also make it to all those important life events like weddings, birthdays, holidays, etc. I also really enjoy practicing in different hospitals and states to not only experience different regional diseases but also experience different hospital environments and clients/patients. I love getting to know new people and it’s fun to visit new places!
What are your least favorite things about being a relief vet?
I think the cost of everything is tough. I’m currently licensed in 7 states and getting all of those licenses, keeping them up as well as paying for health care and liability, etc. is a strain on the bank account. Luckily I’m very busy and working a lot to offset these costs.
What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?
I always bring exotic animal textbooks as these are usually not updated at a lot of practices. I bring my notebooks that have my go-to drug doses, anesthesia protocols, procedure notes etc. to refer to quickly if needed. I also bring pens, high liters and the normal office supplies for a normal day. I bring my own sympathy cards, because I personally like to write my own to the clients of the patients I euthanize. I have a pair of shield glasses with lights on them I like to use for dentals as well as a dremel for exotics cases.
What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?
I look for a practice that has a good reputation for practicing quality medicine. If they provide care to exotics, perform dentistry and surgery-these are pros for me! I try and see how many RVTs are working there as well to get an idea of the support team they have in place. Since my situation is a little different and I move around a lot, I’m usually only working in these hospitals for a month or two at a time. If I don’t enjoy working there (hasn’t happened yet thankfully), I will not continue to agree to coverage.
Have you picked up any unique practice tips while being a relief vet? These could be related medicine, work flow, practice organization, or anything really.
I’ve learned to try and be as flexible as possible when getting used to the work flow at a hospital. Everything is usually a little out of whack the first day while you’re learning how to use their computer systems, what the expectations are from the clients and colleagues, etc. I’ve learned the hard way not to over schedule yourself at the detriment of your own health and sanity even if a hospital is desperate and will pay you well. I’ve also learned a smile, some confidence and some friendly words go a long way to winning over the techs and allowing them to trust you and your medical knowledge because they are often wary of you and your abilities in the beginning, especially if you look young.
What is your most memorable relief job?
I really loved an ER job I took in Berkeley, CA this summer. The staff was so welcoming, encouraging and frankly fun to be around. The clients were mostly great and I had access to an amazing ophthalmologist, oncologist, surgeon and radiologist for consults and referrals. I was welcomed as one of their own and I felt like I was. I absolutely loved my time there and definitely can’t wait to go back!
What advice would you give new relief vets?
Don’t over schedule yourself!
What are your hobbies / passions outside of work?
As I already said above, I LOVE to travel! I’m lucky because my home is on wheels and I can park in pretty much anywhere I want to live! I also enjoy swimming, boating, kayaking, reading, going to concerts, and hiking with my dogs. I’m a very social person and love going out with friends or going to Virginia Tech football games. I’ve been to 30+ countries and I’m already planning more overseas adventures for the near future!”
If you are a relief vet, a practice wanting to hire a relief vet, or want to learn more about relief life, come visit us at www.reliefrover.com!