Meet a Relief Vet – Dr. Amber Parks
Boating, scuba, and running – all can be categorized as stress relievers and just plain fun. Working in a field notorious for putting the patients first and carrying an often-heavy burden of stress, self-care is often difficult. And Dr. Amber Parks hopes to alleviate that, one clinic at a time! Please allow her to provide you that much needed break here in the Sunshine State.
What inspired you to become a veterinarian?
When I was in middle school, my grandfather was very ill and was in and out of the hospital for many years. I was always interested in medicine and the science behind it, so put that together with my love of animals and it was a no-brainer!
What states are you licensed in and/or states you are working to obtain licensure within?
Currently licensed in Florida
What roles have you had within the veterinary profession? How about outside of this industry?
I started out as an associate, and after several years became the medical director for a multi-doctor practice. Under the same practice owner, I then transitioned into a medical and surgical support veterinarian for the associate vets at multiple local hospitals. I was also able to travel between the clinics to perform abdominal ultrasounds.
What made you switch to relief practice?
The flexibility of scheduling and ability to “work for myself” were definitely the deciding factors to switch! These changes have greatly helped me achieve a great work-life balance. It has also allowed me the time I need to devote to reach my professional goal of going for ABVP (American Board of Veterinary Practitioners) diplomate status this year.
What are your favorite things about being a relief vet?
Again, the flexibility is huge. I do not feel guilty about taking time off. Relief work removes the guilt that comes along with feeling as though I was letting my co-workers down if I were not there, especially during a busy time of the year. Also noteworthy is that when I leave work at the end of the day, I can officially “leave work” and don’t feel as though I have to bring work home with me – that has been great for my mental health.
What are your least favorite things about being a relief vet?
The unpredictability of the availability to schedule shifts, however (fingers crossed) this has not really been an issue, thankfully!
How do you feel that relief practice supports the veterinary profession as a whole?
I think relief practice, hands down, can help to give other veterinarians (i.e. associates, business owners, etc.) a break they so deserve. Take that vacation! Go visit your family! My hope would be that relief practice would continue to allow hard-working veterinarians some much needed time off so they can continue to be 100% for their patients and clients.
What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?
I work mostly ER and Urgent care, so the “Emergency Procedures for Small Animal Veterinarians” and “Medical Differential Diagnosis” books are always on me. Also, my VIN log-in is used pretty much every shift, especially for the formulary.
What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?
I look at the happiness and cohesiveness of the staff. If the staff are happy, that speaks volumes to the practice culture, morale and ability of the team to provide excellent patient care and client services.
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.
Working in GP for about a decade gets you into a flow of timeliness and keeping your appointments on a schedule with minimal (as much as you can control that) wait. I feel that I do a pretty good job of this, but then going into ER work, that whole mindset is changed. You are dealing with often complex cases and/or cases that require multiple diagnostics – all of which take time. I have to practice patience in the ER setting as it can become easy to get overwhelmed with so many cases at once. The vet nurses that I have worked with are excellent and have taught me not everything has to be done RIGHT NOW.
What is your most memorable relief job?
My current relief work at a local ER. There is never a dull day there!
What advice would you give new relief vets? (Alternatively, what advice would you give someone who is thinking about being a relief vet?)
Do it! It may not be for everyone, but all the relief doctors I have talked to do not regret making the transition. It will teach you to get out of your comfort zone, hone in on your medicine and be proud of what you have done for yourself and the great service you provide to your relief practices. If you are not sure – reach out to a local relief veterinarian as I’m sure they will be willing to share their experiences.
How has the global pandemic affected your relief practice?
Thankfully, I have been able to continue to fill my schedule with consistent shifts. However, the adjustment to curbside has been interesting and challenging at times.
What are your hobbies / passions outside of work?
I enjoy the water (one of the main reasons I live in FL!), boating, scuba diving and running the occasionally 5k or 10k.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you are considering transitioning into relief practice, again, feel free to reach out to local relief doctors (I know they helped me a lot when I first started) and there are great resources via Relief Rover and social media to network with other (relief) veterinarians and get your questions answered. A lot of the information I learned about relief work was through these platforms and they were greatly helpful.
To learn more or contact Dr. Parks click here.