Meet a Relief Vet – Dr. Julia Campbell
With an eye for efficiency and dedication that runs deep, Dr. Julia Campbell proves that determination knows no bounds. Her adoration and passion for animals began when young and propelled her into a career she loves. An adventurous spirit, she is currently traveling across the country with her husband, so it may be easier to list those states where she is not licensed…yet. California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, go ahead and catch her while you can!
What inspired you to become a veterinarian?
Since I was little, I’ve always been passionate about animals and felt an incredible love for every species. I was the kid who would rescue the insects and put them outside before they would be squished. I gave up eating meat when I was 7 years old and used to bring home every stray animal I could find. I was originally focused on a career in psychology, but I still felt such a great love for animals that I needed to do as much as I could for them. I didn’t originally pursue veterinary education in college because I believed that I cared too deeply to be able to do this job. I eventually realized that there was no better way to show my love for animals than to become an advocate for their health, safety, and wellbeing.
What roles have you had within the veterinary profession? How about outside of this industry?
Right after graduation, I was a veterinary intern at a hospital that focused on GP, emergency, and exotics. I worked there full-time for a little while as an associate and really enjoyed working with the interns as a mentor. Eventually I switched to full-time relief, which gave me the flexibility and control that I had been craving. During this time, I have worked emergency, general practice, shelter, and rescue. I have also volunteered with the San Diego Humane Society and Last Chance at Life rescue in San Diego fostering and finding homes for cats and dogs. On the outside of veterinary medicine, I own a pet sitting company based in southern CA that helps clients manage their pet’s medical needs in their own homes.
What made you switch to relief practice?
Work-life balance is my #1 priority, and I felt that the only way to achieve this was to take control of my own schedule and be my own boss. I felt that when I had this control, I was a better veterinarian.
What is your most memorable relief job?
The Cat Depot in Sarasota, FL – This was an amazing feline only rescue that I happened to find on Relief Rover. They have a beautiful facility and offer high quality medicine and surgical options to the cats they take in, young and old. There was no set schedule to the day. We treated the cats that needed care at our own pace, in a very nice setting with great staff. No appointments or clients meant so much less stress. This was such a feel-good job for me.
How do you feel that relief practice supports the veterinary profession as a whole?
I believe that having the option to be a relief veterinarian offers doctors a way to practice medicine while still maintaining their quality of life. We all know the strain that this profession puts on us. If there is a way to balance the strain with time for resting, being with family, and doing things you love, I believe everyone wins. Personally, I believe that my best self comes through when I am taking the time I need for myself. The more energy and happiness I have, the more I can give to the animals I care for and the people I love.
What are your favorite things about being a relief vet?
My husband and I are super spontaneous, adventurous people – I love being able to set my own schedule and travel whenever I want. Right now, my husband and I are currently traveling around the country for an indefinite amount of time with our pets. I have become licensed in 8 different states so that I can work along the way.
What are your least favorite things about being a relief vet?
Having to negotiate fees and contracts with hospital owners is not my forte. I also miss having the benefits that come with a full-time job such as PTO and CE allowance.
What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?
Electronic recordkeeping, appointment length (I typically try to stay away from hospitals that have shorter than 30 minute appointment times), and reasonable hours.
What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?
My stethoscope, a penlight, my pain management book, and my “nerd book” that I’ve been using/adding to since graduation.
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.
Hospitals that leave “work in” or “urgent care” block-offs for same day appointments seem to have a better flow – this prevents double booking and the schedule from becoming backed up. I also find that practices that utilize their technicians to the fullest extent (history taking, weights/temps, creating estimates) help me stay on schedule, and those shifts are generally much less stressful for me.
On a personal note, I really love when a clinic puts blankets and toys in with the dogs and cats when they are in cages. There was one hospital in Tampa that had soft music or nature videos on in the cat ward and always kept the lights dim for them. These little ways of showing that they care about patient comfort mean a lot to me, and I always feel really good about working at these kinds of places because the animals seem a lot calmer.
What advice would you give new relief vets? (Alternatively, what advice would you give someone who is thinking about being a relief vet?)
Hire a good tax preparer – they will guide you on how to save the most when it comes to taxes. Once your earnings are where they need to be, they can advise you on becoming incorporated in order to reap the maximum benefits.
I also strongly recommend having service agreements reviewed and signed by the hospital owner/practice manager prior to working – this way everything is on paper (pay schedule, fees, hours agreed to, COVID precautionary measures, scope of practice, etc.) and this will avoid miscommunications and surprises.
How has the global pandemic affected your relief practice?
Being aware of how each practice treats and views the pandemic has presented a whole new set of challenges to being a relief vet. Certain places in different parts of the country have treated it differently, and at times it has been difficult to find practices that work within your level of comfort regarding COVID precautions.
What states are you licensed in and/or states you are working to obtain licensure within?
CA, CO, FL, NC, VA, NY, NJ, and PA
Aside from English, what language(s) do you speak?
Only English unfortunately! Maybe Italian or Spanish one day.
What are your hobbies/passions outside of work?
Hiking, sculpture, cooking, and fostering animals.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m hoping my next venture will include becoming certified in physical therapy and acupuncture and incorporating this into my practice.
To contact or learn more about Dr. Julia Campbell, click here.