Not too long ago, for myself and most other vets I know, there was no accusation more insulting and infuriating than “you’re just in it for the money.”
But times, they are a changing.

As we hurtle closer and closer to the end of this end-stage capitalist hellscape, more people are realizing that it’s okay for a job to be something you do for money. Even a care oriented one like vet med. These days, I often hear my fellow veterinary professionals respond to the “you’re just in it for the money” accusations with some version—“Of course I am—why do you do your job?”

Which begs the question—is it okay to just be in it for the money?

And the answer to the question, I believe is in that itty-bitty adverb…just.

“Just” is an interesting word. Having recently finished writing a novel and trying to edit it down to a size that would be attractive to a literary agent, the word “just” has become the bane of my existence. I’ve spent dozens and dozens of hours going through 97,000 words sentence by sentence looking for every extraneous one. And there was no word I came upon more in this journey, than “just.”

When is “just” a necessary modifier, and when is it superfluous?

I can tell you this—of all the “just”s I removed from my manuscript (and there were a lot of them) this “just” would definitely make the cutting room floor.

Yes, I am in this for the money.

No, I am not just in this for the money.

If I hit the MegaMillions jackpot tomorrow, I’d take a nice yearlong sabbatical to travel the world—sit at a café in Paris and write, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. Visit that hotel in Kenya where giraffes come right up to your window…

And then I’d come home and I’d start volunteering my veterinary services at a shelter. Or doing low cost spay-neuter clinics. Because as hard as I try to fight it, being a veterinarian is part of who I am. Not all of who I am—though that took me many years and a ton of maturity to realize. But it is part of who I am.

So, yes, it’s okay to be in veterinary medicine for the money. It’s not okay to be in it just for the money.

And you know what? It’s also okay for clients to worry about the cost of veterinary care. For them to consider if, and how much of our recommendations are what’s really necessary for their pet’s care and what’s being recommended to them because of the financial pressures of everyday life. As corporations and private equity take over the space, this is something we all have to grapple with.

I know that most human doctors do what they do because it’s their job and they want to get paid. Hell, they deserve to get paid. But I also know that the increasing corporatization of medicine has an effect on medical care—the push to see as many patients as possible. The financial prioritization of diagnostics and medical procedures over thorough history taking, education, and preventative care. The desire to cover their ass and protect their medical license.

And I don’t blame them for any of that. But I do go into the doctor’s office with eyes wide open, knowing that I might need to advocate for myself in ways that I didn’t need to twenty or thirty years ago.

So, go ahead and normalize the fact that you deserve to get paid for your hard work, expertise, and emotional investment. But please don’t let anyone tell you you’re just in it for the money.