Zoological Medicine: Our Seductive Profession
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Roy B. Burns, DVM
Louisville Zoological Garden, Louisville, KY, USA


Becoming a veterinarian in zoological medicine requires great focus, sacrifice, discipline, and a bit of luck. Securing a position occurs after years of demanding academic study and building a resume of experience and achievements. Once “in” the profession, zoological veterinarians often continue at a similar pace. Zoo veterinarians typically possess great passion and sense of mission in their work. We receive abundant positive reinforcement from society, friends, students, and colleagues from our identity as a zoo veterinarian, for working long hours, and for being available “24/7.” As a result, our personal, spiritual, physical, and relationship identities may become secondary. A counterintuitive approach of predictable and spontaneous time off improves efficiency and efficacy.1 Re-balancing of one’s professional, personal, spiritual, and relationship identities requires a redefinition of success. Such rebalancing can require the same focus, sacrifice, and discipline required to enter our profession with much less positive reinforcement from outside of ourselves. However, as one’s definition of success changes, so too does one’s behavior.

Literature Cited

1.  Perlow LA, JL Porter. Making time off predictable & required. Harv Bus Rev. 2009;87(10):102–109.


Speaker Information
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Roy B. Burns, DVM
Louisville Zoological Garden
Louisville, KY, USA

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