Episode 19 – Crafting a Bridge to the Next Generation of Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Tannetje Crocker

Here is the full transcript of this week’s episode. It is auto-generated using Otter.ai, so please excuse any errors!

Stacey Cordivano 0:07
Hey there, it’s Dr. Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we’ve created. On this podcast I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. Welcome to the whole veterinarian.

Stacey Cordivano 0:30
Hi, everyone. I know you’ve heard me talk about the global veterinarian career summit before but I just wanted to pop on with a little bit of an ad. The global veterinary career summit is a virtual summit aimed at bringing together the world’s experts and a huge veterinary community to introduce tangible ways to build a career you love that also fits your life. They offer 17 hours of race-approved CE, and over 50 hours of content and 200 amazing speakers. The 2020 sessions are available on demand through June of this year. And when you use the code WHOLEVET to buy one, you not only get entry to the upcoming conference taking place virtually on October 21 to 23rd 2021. But you also get 25% off the entire package price. So by using the code WHOLEVET you’re supporting the show in a small way at no additional cost to you and you are getting an amazing deal. So if you want to find out more, go to globalveterinarycareersummit.com and remember to use our discount code to get your 25% off and I’ll also make sure to leave a link in the show notes. So thanks for listening. And now on to today’s episode.

Stacey Cordivano 1:40
Today’s guest is Dr. Tannetje’ Crocker. She is a 2009 graduate of the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an equine focused internship in Southern California and then worked as an equine ambulatory practitioner for three years before transitioning to small animal medicine. She currently practices in Grapevine, Texas at Northwest Animal Hospital and the Animal Emergency Hospital of North Texas. In her free time, Dr. Crocker can be found spending time with her family and friends, riding horses and enjoying the great outdoors. Dr. Crocker is passionate about mentorship and empowering both veterinary students and young veterinarians to embrace the profession find joy and success. In today’s episode, we discuss a bunch of different things but she has a ton of great advice for other practitioners who want to start building connections like these with the younger generation of veterinarians. Without further ado, here’s my chat with Dr. Tannetje’ Crocker.

Stacey Cordivano 2:39
Dr. Crocker, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today.

Tannetje’ Crocker 2:43
You’re welcome. I’m excited, we already have talked about so much that we both have in common. So I was excited to come on.

Stacey Cordivano 2:49
I know I follow you on Instagram. And I’ve seen all the great content that you put out for people. And I knew that we would have a lot to talk about. Recently, you had a post about all the vet schools that you had been to, and all the ones that you were looking forward to going to and so I’d like to kind of dig into how you got interested in connecting with the younger generation of vets and vet students.

Tannetje’ Crocker 3:16
I think that there’s a couple reasons why first, it was really because I was a part of these Facebook groups and different things online and just kept hearing all the negativity. And I saw the crazy survey, which said a lot of people wouldn’t go into veterinary medicine that had and it just made me really sad. And the stories that were coming out of people telling that students they made the wrong decision, or even people thinking about becoming a veterinarian that they shouldn’t, I really felt like they weren’t speaking for me. And that wasn’t my experience in my story. And so I wanted to find a way to get my story out there. And so I really joined Instagram not knowing at all really what I was doing. It’s been a steep learning curve, I decided to reach out to some of my local schools that were close by that I could drive to, and especially my alma mater, Texas a&m, and I found that students were really looking for just regular practitioners who had kind of experienced veterinary medicine, but still loved what they did. And literally my talk was, I love my job, let me tell you all about it. And I just told them about my career and the decisions I had made. And it kind of turned into a bigger deal because people were really receptive to it. Hearing that there was a different way to practice hearing that you can make decisions that would bring you joy in this industry. And so word of mouth kind of got around and the social media has grown and it’s just become really fun and really exciting and given me kind of a next level of engagement that I needed in my career after 11 years.

Stacey Cordivano 4:47
Got it. I want to come back to kind of some things you’ve picked up doing that but I want to touch on your story a little bit. Give us a little bit of background in case people haven’t heard it.

Tannetje’ Crocker 4:57
So you and I have similar backgrounds where were horse girls, you’re still a horse girl. But I went to vet school to do that only focused on equine stuff in school, did the equine internship the 80 to 100 hour weeks work weeks, and I really loved it. I did ambulatory medicine for three years in a truck by myself, no tech, grinding it out, you know, on call 50% of the time, loved it. And then I have my baby. And I really couldn’t do the 50% on call anymore. And my husband traveled and just life circumstances changed. And even though I was so passionate about it and loved it, I realized I had to make a change. And so what I found is, there are so many options in this industry. And there’s a lot of career paths you can take. And so I started doing relief and part time work and just fell into a great practice that I love that now I work out full time as a small animal practitioner, which I never had 100 years ago would have guessed I would have done and I do er relief, which a lot of people aren’t as familiar with. And so I kind of have found a way to really still enjoy what I do challenge myself, but make my hours and my life better for me and my family. And the speaking and the writing and all the other stuff has just been icing on the cake. So that’s the the brief, brief summary. Right? So in the speaking and in is connecting with the younger generation, what are you hearing from them, the biggest thing I’m hearing is that they don’t care as much about how much money they’re making, and how big they are, or you know how well known they are as a veterinarian, and I felt like in the equine world, especially there was a lot of really big egos and a lot of people who wanted to like be the lead guy or the person. And I found that they don’t care as much about that they want to contribute, and they want to help their team. But they really also need that time away from practice, they need those boundaries that really help you to survive in this industry. And they’ve realized how important that is really early on where it took us too long it did, it took us way too long. And I got burned, you know, from not setting boundaries early on a lot. And it did, it took a while to realize that I could say no. And I could set boundaries. And I could find clients that would be respectful of that and would pay for my time and find value in what I was offering them. Even if I didn’t offer all of myself all the time, the younger generation already recognizes that and realizes that, which I think is amazing. But then you kind of have this disconnect, too, because they’re coming out in the world. And they’re working for people who still expect them to give everything all the time. And I have all these other practitioners saying I’ve been trying to hire for three or four years, and I can’t find anybody. And when I dig deeper, and I asked them, you know what you’re on call schedule. And you know, what is your support staff look like? And how do you you know, schedule your clients? And do you fire clients that are abusive? I start to hear these answers that make me say, well, maybe these are some of the reasons why you’re having a hard time hiring because you already have students who are recognizing that they want to be in a certain type of practice and environment. And that’s going to be sustainable for a long term career versus burning out and hating what you do after a couple years. Have you found those practitioners, the older ones that are having these issues, have you found them receptive to your thoughts. So the ones on Instagram are very receptive. And most of them have actually joined and really engaged and mentored students and, and kind of said, we are making changes. And I used to do this, but this is what I do now. And a lot of them are actually hiring and having people extern with them and not having a hard time. Because they’ve recognized that they need to promote themselves in a different way, they need to engage in a different way. And that by getting out there and catching students really early on in their veterinary school career, that’s really the ideal way you’re going to get the best candidates to work for you. Or by word of mouth, you’re going to get the best x turns, who can turn into you know, new associates. So like my practice was hiring recently, but we didn’t put job ads out it was all word of mouth and networking and connections because I want to hear from other people how amazing somebody is. And then I want to get to know you. And then I want to you know, have you join my practice. And so I think that the more you network and engage, and this is what some of the practitioners have realized, then the better results you’ll get long term, especially when you’re competing with the corporations, the corporations are in the schools. They are like hardcore in there from day one in their ear saying come work for us. These are all the awesome things we’ll give you. I don’t think the upside is big as they say it can be and I don’t think the work life balance is what a lot of the students are looking for. So if you can offer an alternative, as a general practitioner, I think you really can find some awesome associates. But you potentially have to be willing to change up how you schedule and what you do day to day, thinking outside the box. I mean, I’ve said that several times in previous episodes, but I do think that in order to stay relevant or sustainable

Stacey Cordivano 9:59
We, as veterinarians and practice owners have to start thinking outside the box, whether that’s creative scheduling, or, you know, everything you just listed. Yeah, I want to go back to one thing, because the combination of corporate kind of recruitment and your note about new grads, not not necessarily needing to be paid too much money, I feel like what you hear lately is like, oh, practices aren’t paying enough. That’s why they’re not getting good candidates, and everyone’s going corporate, because they start off at this huge salary. But you’re saying that that’s not the case? Potentially?

Tannetje’ Crocker 10:34
Yeah, I think that that is a generalization. And a lot of times, you’ll hear like a very small group of people saying like, this is what’s going on. But then I feel like the more you dive deeper, that’s not the case, I know a ton of students that already have a job. And a majority of them are going back to practices that they worked at before they went to that school, or went back to practices that their mentors were at. It’s based on relationships, I could tell you from even just listening to them speak about these practices, it is not based on how much money they’re going to make, they feel like it’s a good mentorship opportunity for them. It’s a good culture, they feel supported, they feel safe. And that was really what a lot of the students I talked to were looking for. Now they need to be paid a livable wage. Right? Right. I also think sometimes you have to be good at showing the value of your practice. So let’s say a corporation is saying we’ll help pay off your student loans, and we’ll pay you this much. But my question is, what is your upside there? How much will you be making in two, three years there? And how many hours will you be working? And does the hourly wage really work out to what you think it’s going to be versus a practice that will say, Listen, this is going to be your schedule, you’re going to work 35 hours a week, and we’re gonna pay you this much, plus you get this benefit package. But eventually, if you want to, you know, do production, there’s a bigger upside there. And so I think the better relationship you have with those students, and the more they feel like you care about them, and you actually want to see them succeed, then the easier it is to get through to them that it’s not just a base salary that you have to look at. There’s a lot of factors that go into financial and overall success as a veterinarian.

Stacey Cordivano 12:15
great points for sure. I know when I used this account to join Instagram, I was thrust into a younger generation. And I it’s very different. Like I don’t think of myself as being that old, but I’ve been out a while and it is different. And some days I struggle to wrap my head around the idea of like, well, you do have to work hard to kind of get things under your belt initially. But here I am on like a podcast that’s promoting wellness. And I feel very strongly that we have to change how we’re doing things, because people need to be happier. So I think those are all really important points. One other thing I’ve heard you say, and this is probably more relevant for people looking for jobs, or looking to change jobs is that you need to ask for what you want. So I wanted to see kind of what you meant by that.

Tannetje’ Crocker 13:11
So it’s probably has a couple of factors there. One is just the female factor. Dr. Jessica Volsengang just put out a great article talking about I mean, she’s a very well known speaker, but talking about how when she’s asked for what she knows other male speakers being paid, that she basically gets shut down. And so I think that there is a difficulty with women still speaking up and saying, This is what I’m worth, and this is what I need, and I, you know, have this value to give you, I really just encourage, especially the younger veterinarians to use their voices as much as they can. And the more they do, I think that will change in general for all of us in this profession. I also think that thinking outside the box is really important. And so currently, I work and I work through lunch two days a week, and I leave early in the afternoon, and I pick my kid up from school. And previously before me, that just never would have been anything that crossed my two male bosses minds to just not take a lunch and then leave early. And so when I presented it initially, one I was in a really good position where they wanted me to come on full time. And I had, you know, done really well financially for them. And the clients liked me. And so I kind of said, Yes, I can do that. But this is the schedule I want. And at first, I think it was a little of a Wait a second. I don’t know how that’ll work. And I had to explain it and we talked about it. And now they’re wanting to have that happen every day where we have a vet who comes in and works through lunch and like leaves early. And so I think that asking for things that maybe aren’t traditionally offered but will still serve as clients but help you maintain that balance you want is really, really important. And I kind of hate the term work life balance because there is never going to be 50-50 balance. And I do also think this is really important. Some of us are workers, especially in the equine industry, I can work 60-80 hour weeks, I really can, I don’t sleep much like I am a worker, I’m a workaholic. And I’ve identified that in myself. But not everyone is made like that. And even though I can do it, it doesn’t mean I should do it. Because that’s when I develop an ulcer. And that’s when I’m not mentally there for my family and my husband. And so I think that identifying the different personalities that can do things, maybe that aren’t healthy traits, necessarily. And I don’t know, I don’t know about you. But I mean, I have to tell myself, like, okay, you gotta leave work, and you got to go take care of these things. And so kind of creatively scheduling and knowing I’m going to work really hard while I’m here, like, I’m going to work my booty off, I’m going to see as much as I can, I’m going to, you know, bring a lot of value to my job. But when I leave, I leave, and I’m not going to do anything else after that. And you’re a practice owner. So it’s a little different for you.

Stacey Cordivano 15:59
Yeah, it’s a little different. Yeah. And certainly, it took me having children to put that boundary, I guess, up. Yeah, I agree. I could work a lot, especially if why not, what else is there to do? I think that that’s part of creating this more whole or well rounded life, is finding something that drives you to want to set a boundary and not just have work as your identity, I think it’s definitely helpful. What would you say is the number one priority in your life right now.

Tannetje’ Crocker 16:33
So I do think my family, but I think it has to be myself a little bit, too, I’ve recently have gotten back into just working out and eating healthy. And I really used to make fun of the people that were like, Oh, I get up early, and I work out. And you’ll feel so good if you do it. And now I’m like, Oh, I do feel better. So before, I would have said that, my priority was probably like being the best that I could be, and you know, being successful. And I’ve really turned that into what helps me to be happy, and in a better place mentally. So I can be the best mom and the best wife and the best veterinarian. And by doing that it may sound selfish. But by doing that it has helped me feel like I have longevity in this career, and that I continue to really love what I do.

Stacey Cordivano 17:21
I think that’s so important to hear from you. Because you definitely put it out there a lot that you do love your job. And that’s a big thing for you. But it’s really nice to hear that it doesn’t have to be your number one priority. And now you know, there’s still a way to love your job and not have it be your entire life or identity. So thank you for that. I appreciate that. Now, this is something I asked all of my guests, what is one small thing that has brought you joy this past week.

Tannetje’ Crocker 17:50
So there’s a lot of things, we had the holidays, and there was just a lot going on. And honestly just being back in the camper and slowing down and being with my family again. Last night, all the kids piled in bed with us. And we just watched a movie and hung out. And that was probably just the most relaxed and best I’ve felt in a while. Learning to slow down and appreciate slowing down has taken me a long time. So when it happens, I feel like I really take that in a lot more. And I really appreciate it a lot more than I used to.

Stacey Cordivano 18:26
Excellent. That’s great. I love family snuggle piles.

Tannetje’ Crocker 18:30

Stacey Cordivano 18:31
I know that you have a career guide that is produced with snout school. It’s Dr. Crocker’s veterinary adventures. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Tannetje’ Crocker 18:40
Yeah, we decided to kind of make it fun and base it kind of on like a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of book. And so what it is, is kind of short little stories about each type of practice that I’ve been in, because I’ve done a couple different careers in veterinary medicine. And then it’s got some fun, like flowcharts and quizzes where you can kind of talk about, like what your priorities are. And like where do you want to live like suburban area, rural, urban, how much you want to get paid? Do you want to be on call or not just really simple things. But it’s interesting, the more I talk to people that they think about their career, and they just think about, like, what type of animal Am I going to work on. But they haven’t really thought through all these other factors that would go into finding the right job for you. And so it’s got a lot of really fun little ways to kind of think through that and just dig a little deeper so that when you are going into that job search and especially looking for that first job, you’re really thinking about everything that would factor into whether you enjoy it or not. I have so many veterinarians that I talked to and they’re like I hate my job, and then when I start to talk to them more, it’s not really even the surgery or working on the animals it’s they really dislike that they stay so late and then they get home and they don’t see their children or their husband saying why were you at work so late again, and and they don’t have good support staff or where they live, they don’t have any family support. And so no one can help out with their children. So it’s a lot of times outside factors outside of the veterinary office that contribute to you being unhappy. So I’m trying to get people to think about those things a little bit more.

Stacey Cordivano 20:15
Yeah, that’s great. Rather than just kind of blaming that med in general, that yes, kind of pulling that apart. That’s great. That actually makes me think of a question. You definitely have an entrepreneurial side, yourself. Have you always been like that? Or did you think you were like on the ownership track? Where are you kind of at?

Tannetje’ Crocker 20:34
I am definitely an owner personality, I have always wanted to be an owner. And I really actually set a hard like, at 10 years, I’m going to be an owner, and I met 11 years in veterinary medicine. And I’m not actually an owner of a practice. I love my job I love where I am, I get paid really well for what I do. And I get supported to experience all these other things now that I’m doing and travel more, and have a boss who’s like, Yes, go do what you need to do. And so it works out really well for me. But I’ve started kind of exploring this new concept of I don’t know that I need to be an owner of a physical practice. I wonder if I can just own myself in my career in veterinary medicine, whether that ends up just being working at this practice, whether it ends up eventually starting my own, whether it is working here and doing all these other things, and that turning into more speaking and writing, which would maybe mean I work less in practice. So kind of more ownership as saying, I’m going to make decisions that will continue to make me happy, and lead me to success. But maybe it’s not that I am the actual owner having to worry about all the owner things which you are very familiar with.

Stacey Cordivano 21:47
Yeah, it’s not always, not always a piece of cake, that’s for sure.

Tannetje’ Crocker 21:53
No, and during the pandemic, that became very clear to me, you know, I helped with a lot of the decisions and management choices, but ultimately, it still wasn’t on me everything that was going on. And so I think that was a little freeing for me and realizing that maybe the Owner Title needs to be defined differently for me and not make it be so traditional, which is what we’re talking about right is not being as traditional in owning a practice and just owning it till you’re 65 and selling and retiring it. I don’t know if that’s going to be my, my journey and my path anymore.

Stacey Cordivano 22:25
Perfect. I think that’s great. I think that helping other veterinarians realize that the profession does not have to be this very linear thing that we’ve always thought of. I think that’s very helpful. Okay, I do want to wrap up, I want to let people know where they can find out more information about you and how to best to get in touch with you.

Tannetje’ Crocker 22:48
So I do have a website where everything is, and that’s kind of where you can find videos I’ve done. I have a lot of resources for students on there. And that’s http://www.drcrockerpetvet.com. And then Instagram is where I’m most active, I guess. And so it’s @dr.tannetje.crocker on Instagram, which is a little tricky, and I’m on LinkedIn and Facebook. Yeah, I was gonna say, if you can spell my first name I used to actually when I would go out and college, I feel like if you can spell my first name, I’ll buy you a drink. And if you can’t, you have to buy me one and I got a lot of free drinks.

Stacey Cordivano 23:26
That’s a good party trick!

Tannetje’ Crocker 23:29
See, I’ve always been a hustler, you know,

Stacey Cordivano 23:32
always, it is deep in there. Perfect. Well, I really appreciate your time. It will definitely link to all your contact information. I know you’re very receptive to connecting with students and other veterinarians. So I will link all that I am super appreciative of all the work that you are putting out there to help educate veterinarians, vet students, owners. So I thank you very much for that hard work and for your time today.

Tannetje’ Crocker 23:58
Thank you. I appreciate it. You have me on and it was fun. I like it when I get together with another horse girl.

Stacey Cordivano 24:05
Me too. This was so fun. I’m so glad we got a chance to connect.

Stacey Cordivano 24:11
I want to again send out my sincere thanks to Dr. Crocker for spending some time with me. Honestly, she is a rock star you should definitely go check her out on Instagram she shares a ton of educational and inspirational content and she is for sure genuine when she says to reach out she really enjoys connecting with people there. And also make sure to check out our website. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please send to a friend or leave a review on Apple podcasts. I really appreciate it. You can also sign up for the newsletter at thewholeveterinarian.com/subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any future episodes. And you will get a bonus episode next week with Dr. Crocker talking a little bit of social media stuff. So make sure to tune in next week and I will talk to you again soon.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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I’m Stacey

I want veterinarians to become happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for this life that we’ve created.

I understand the struggles of a stretched-too-thin veterinarian. I have also learned that with some individual work, there is a brighter side to veterinary medicine. Personal and financial development strategies have helped me find a happier place in my life and in my work. I hope to share resources that will resonate with my fellow veterinarian to allow you to become a more whole person.

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