Think about the difference between a vet and a physician. Both are doctors who have completed rigorous medical training, but then the paths diverge.

Vets are mostly generalists who treat animals from birth (or close to it) through death. There are few animal specialists, and mostly people go to their same neighborhood vet for every malady, surgery, routine care and even end of life assistance. Vets dispense prescriptions, trim nails, take x-rays, sell food and serve as a one-stop shop for total small animal care. They deal with dogs, cats, birds, iguanas, gerbils and other different species — all with varying anatomy and needs.

Contrast that with a physician, who primarily deals with one age group, one system of the body, and relies on countless other professionals to assist with providing care.  Doctors of humans are mostly specialists who focus in depth on one aspect of treatment and health.  The medical system is engulfed in paperwork and insurance, whereas for most vets it is all cash on the spot.

Both serve their purposes, and, of course, humans are far more valuable and complex than the family pet, but the contrast between vets and physicians provides an informative analogy for how work is done. Which are you: a generalist or a specialist? Do you go deep in a specific area or know a little about a wider range of material? Can you become more like a vet — or more like a physician — and adopt some of the strengths of each model?

I’m glad there is a generalist for my dog and a specialist for me. Think about how you can align your work so you’re not barking up the wrong tree. 

— beth triplett

Thanks to Amy N. for the observation

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