Creating work/life balance can be juggling act

Creating work/life balance can be juggling act

Mother and practice owner strives to maintain life outside of work
Nov 01, 2004

Dr. Abby Snyder
The toughest professional decisions are made with compromise for practice owner Dr. Abby Snyder. She generally reduces the pile of medical charts on her desk by half before going home to her husband and daughter.

After graduating, Snyder began working at Grandview Animal Hospital as an associate veterinarian. Her stint paid dividends; when her employer had an opportunity to return to academia, he sold the practice to Snyder, who had less than two years practice experience under her belt at the time.

"The week I bought the practice was the week I became pregnant with my daughter," Snyder recalls. "Having a child opened a whole new set of concerns about being a manager, the best veterinarian I could be and the best mother, too."

Snyder credits her staff and associate veterinarian for easing the stress of a full schedule and says they are very supportive and part of her family.

"I have a lot of responsibilities but feel very fortunate for being able to pursue my career and have a family, too," Snyder says. "I couldn't imagine giving up all of the time spent on my education, and I couldn't imagine not having my family there either."

To maintain the level of perfection and professionalism that Snyder expects of herself, she uses a business consultant to discuss challenges and how to deal with them.

"My office manager works with the consultant, too, and my husband handles the payroll," Snyder says. "The office manager and my husband also work together, which makes things easier."

Snyder's husband works full time as an accountant, and her daughter is in daycare full time.

"There are times that I am constantly wishing I was home, and I have a pile of charts on my desk to finish. I have to decide to do the charts and stay another hour or go home," Snyder says. "I usually do something in-between."

Snyder says she is very dedicated to her staff and clients and finds that the flexibility she has in her practice works well for her and her associate veterinarian, who is also a mother.

"It would be a constant mental challenge if I didn't have the flexibility," she says. "When my daughter is sick and I have to pick her up from daycare, I wouldn't want someone making me feel bad that I need to leave."

The Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) is aggressively addressing the new and old generation clash, Snyder says.

"Veterinarians can have families while being passionate about their careers and family," she says. "Having a family should not be looked at as being a bad thing."

Snyder says she currently works 35 hours to 40 hours per week and does not have to respond to emergency calls because there are referral clinics in the area. Decisions on if and when she will have other children are affected by her schedule and responsibilities, she says, but that is a small price to pay for all of her accomplishments.

"I have a lot of family support, which helps especially when I work longer days."

Making decisions on what needs to be addressed or done is sometimes difficult to adjust to, Snyder says.

"Right now my car needs cleaned out and my house isn't perfect, but things that need to be done are addressed, and weekends are when most of the chores are done."

On any given day, Snyder's schedule is waking up, scrambling to get herself ready for work, taking care of family pets, getting her daughter out of bed and off to daycare, then starting a day at the office at 8 a.m. and working sometimes until 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.