Pivoting as a Mid-Career Professional with Gabby Minter, DVM
In this interview series, we follow veterinary professionals working in various facets of veterinary medicine. We’re learning about the plethora of career options in vet med and how these professionals transitioned from practice to an alternative career. We hope to educate mid-career professionals, and new professionals alike, on the alternatives to private practice and how to prepare for a pivot in the future.
This is our third interview in the series and we welcomed Dr. Gabby Minter to speak with us about her career pivots. She is the Veterinarian at Boston Scientific.
You previously worked in a small animal practice that was feline-only, so how did you decide you wanted to be a feline-only practitioner?
Dr. Minter: I worked in the feline-only practice in veterinary school. I was looking for a summer opportunity, with me coming in with pretty much no clinical experience. I wanted to learn what I could do. A job opened up for me to work there over the summers and on Saturdays, which really opened my eyes to working in feline-only.
It was something that I was interested in for a bit, until of course, my mind switched, as it did a couple of times during the course of my career. It was a good eye-opener into small animal practice. And I learned a lot there.
After you graduated, did you go straight into practice?
Dr. Minter: About my 3rd year of veterinary school, I decided I was very interested in cardiology. After the cardiology unit during our small animal medicine course, I decided that was what I wanted to do. It was something I was extremely interested in. You do some cardiology work as a primary practice vet, but I didn’t want to do just, just that. In order to become a cardiologist, you need to do a residency, and cardiology residencies are extremely competitive.
To make yourself a better applicant, you need to do a rotating internship. During my 4th year of veterinary school, I decided to apply for rotating internships through the match, which basically you rank your programs, they rank their applicants and you somehow match up. I ended up going to Tufts University in Massachusetts for a year for my rotating internship. Unfortunately, I graduated in 2020 (peak COVID) so my rotating internship, as it's called, is supposed to rotate through all of the different specialties our ER was so slammed due to the closing of many primary care practices, most of my internship was in emergency care.
After that, I still tried applying for a cardiology residency and I did not match. I ended up doing a cardiology specialty internship, which is basically a mini-residency; my responsibility was to take care of all of the inpatients who were there for cardiac reasons. So heart failure, arrhythmias, and the like. I also saw appointments as well.
What were some of your emotions going through that? And the decision to do the rotating so that you could, in the cardiology portion, so that you could, be a baby in turn if you will go try to get into that.
Dr. Minter: It was hard, but wasn’t unexpected. That year there were, I believe, eight residencies in the entire United States. Because cardiology is the best, it’s super, super competitive. I suspected that I probably wasn't going to match that first year.
Luckily, veterinary medicine is such a small community, it's a lot of networking. I talked to some of the faculty who I worked with that year. Lots of networking. They ended up knowing somebody who was looking for a cardiology intern. And I think I just ended up lucky in that case. But I do think they're starting to do more cardiology specialty internships just because the residency is so, so complicated.
We appreciate you talking about the networking aspect. Many often think networking is for somebody out of school. It’s really important.
Dr. Minter: Networking is so important in really all aspects [of veterinary medicine], especially for me as a baby doctor, coming out trying to get into these competitive programs. You need letters of recommendation. So networking is key and really connecting with the people who write your letters is super important. And so kind of getting out there and just talking to people and emailing people is really important.
How did you take that experience and move to the industry side of things?
Dr. Minter: I was a little bit traumatized from my rotating internship where we were just seeing everything and anything. But I had experience from when we put a pacemaker into animals. These pacemakers were originally made for humans so I started Googling, looking for companies that made pacemakers and need veterinarians.
The position at Boston Scientific interested me the most, because not only am I taking care of the animals the more exciting part is my official title is Veterinary Advisor. I get to work with the engineers and physicians and come up with the best plan for these medical devices. And how we're going to initially put them in animals. I’m using my veterinary and cardiology background together.
I'm still learning so much about veterinary cardiology. I think for me is a super healthy life pivot. I get to do a lot of what I want to do, but in a way that's healthier for me. I'm excited to go to work every day, instead of just being exhausted every day.
You articulated that in such a good way for everyone to learn. No one wants to overwork themselves.
Dr. Minter: It was just not sustainable for me. And I knew I was the youngest I would ever be and the healthiest, I would ever be. If I wasn't meeting my needs at this point of my life, I knew I wasn't gonna be able to do it when I was 40 or 50.
What advice would you give a mid-career professional or recent grad going forward?
I would say, one don't be afraid to keep an open mind. I was somebody who always had such a specific plan, year to year. And there were slight deviations, but I still had my plan. Just keeping an open mind, I think is hard for a lot of us type A veterinarians who have such a specific way that they want to do things. But if you're open to it, just talk, talk to people who have a slightly different job than you.
Two, don't push [opportunities] away. I am constantly getting spammed by LinkedIn recruiters. Don't be afraid to talk to them if it's something that seems somewhat interesting to you, ask them if there's somebody who could talk to them. Don't be afraid to keep an open mind and to talk to people.