The Whole Veterinarian

Making Time for Yourself with Dr. Cara Wright

June 11, 2020 Stacey Cordivano, DVM Season 1 Episode 2
The Whole Veterinarian
Making Time for Yourself with Dr. Cara Wright
Show Notes Transcript

Join me as I have a quick chat with my friend and equine veterinarian, Cara Wright, DVM. We discuss equine relief work, ways in which employers can attract good job applicants and why it is so important to put yourself first.

Here is Cara's info!
Instagram: @whatsnextcara
Websites: and

Dr. Cara Wright grew up swimming and eventing outside of Washington DC. After attending Louisiana State University to earn her Master of Science with a focus on Equine Reproduction, she graduated in 2009 from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. After vet school, she headed straight to Ocala for an internship at a large practice focused on the needs of the Thoroughbred racehorse. She currently lives and practices in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Cara completed the Options for Animals Chiropractic -United Kingdom course and is certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

​Cara's interests outside of work involve cycling and triathlon, which correlates with her professional interests in the equine athlete and integrating additional modalities such as laser and chiropractic to keep horses feeling and working their best. Dr. Wright also really enjoys working with geriatric horses and ophthalmic cases.


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Music Credit: Journey of Hope by Alexander Nakarada

Hello, everybody. I am happy to be sitting here speaking with Dr.Cara Wright. Cara is a 2009 Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine graduate. She then did an equine internship in Ocala and went into private equine practice following her internship. Her career course has veered off a little bit since then, but we'll definitely get into that. So I just want to welcome Cara....Hi! 
Hey, thanks for having me. 
Okay, so technically, this is my first interview. So thank you. 
Awesome. It's exciting. 
The first question I have for you is what does an enjoyable life working as an equine veterinarian look like to you specifically. 
So for me, it is really important to have some time every single day to do whatever it is that I want to do. So usually, for me, that would be go for a run or ride my bike or read a book for a few minutes and not feel that taking that time to do that for myself is making my boss angry, or I'm not seeing clients that need to be seen and just building that time into the day. And I think obviously, depending on the time of year and the type of practice you're in, obviously, that could fluctuate sometimes, but I do think in general, there's no reason for anyone to not have 30 minutes to themselves every day. 
Okay, how have you gone about setting boundaries to create that kind of lifestyle for yourself? 
I can be a little bit strong sometimes. So like I don't have a hard time saying no to people that are asking me for something that I feel is ridiculous. If they call, you know, at 4:55pm, and they need a Coggins to go out that day, I've never had a problem telling them No, you should have planned better. I'm sorry, I can't do that. But I do know that for a lot of our peers, it is a lot harder to tell people No. And I do also understand that depending on who's running your practice and the practice culture, it's also really hard to say no to something like that. But I think I've just been really lucky that it's never bothered me to do that. So I don't have a problem creating boundaries in general. 
And just from knowing you, I know that while you do make time for yourself, you're also very willing to work really hard when need be. So I think that expressing that to a boss has made it easier for you to make this schedule that you have now making that very clear. I'm happy to work hard, but if there's not work to be done, I'm going to do XYZ 
To get into your current situation a little bit more, you were in equine private practice in Florida. You were on the verge of really getting burned out. And then you had kind of an abnormal life circumstance happen. And I'd like you to elaborate on that and how it's shaped what your next steps have been. 
So you were correct. I was working in private practice in Florida. And I've always had a little bit of interest in the business side of things. And I just spent a lot of time realizing Why am I going on this call? It's 45 minutes away to vaccinate one horse for rabies and pull Coggins with a technician in the car like we are losing money like this is why I can't make money because we're not making any money. So that was sort of the overreaching thing in the back of my head that made me feel frustrated and I was tired and it just it wasn't really a great fit. So I then had the opportunity to move overseas and move to Italy for a couple years. So I did that. I quit my job. I actually was supposed to have moved in August and then it got pushed back to November but I had already quit my job, so then I got a job working at a running shoe store, which actually was super fun. And I was extremely good at selling people specialty running shoes. I really enjoyed it. 
I forgot about that...haha. 
It was so awesome. I like won all the prizes you sold the most. And it was like a really good time. I remember when I applied for Nike to be like a rep and be the running store rep for Nike. And I'm like, Cara, what are you doing here? You're a veterinarian. But I definitely was tired of it. 
You were burnt out. 
Yeah. So anyway, I ended up moving to Italy Later that year, and sort of the pendulum swung the other way, I would say for sure where I wasn't allowed to work. And you know, in order to be a veterinarian in Italy, you'd have to pass the board exam which is given in Italian so unless you speak fluent Italian, you're not going to be doing that their economy also is a little tricky as far as veterinary jobs and that kind of thing. So anyway, so I moved over there and I wasn't working at all. It was a hard transition to go from being overly busy to being not busy at all, and then having so much free time and not knowing what to do with myself. So I started doing triathlons because that takes up a lot of time. And then as you well know, one of my friends, for the listeners her name is Stacey Cordivano, decided to get knocked up and have a kid right when she was starting her practice. I mean, was that a couple years in I don't really remember. 
Yeah a couple years. 
So you had enough clients that you were like, Huh, I'm gonna be out for a while and then Stacey actually asked me to come work for her and fill in while she was out on maternity leave, which was the beginning of really her idea that I then took to be an equine relief vet and do fill in work for people sort of as needed. Another girl I know from Ocala, another veterinarian, reached out to me asking if that's what I was doing and would I come cover her maternity leave, so I did that and then decided that this was kind of fun, and I liked working part time whenever I wanted. So I decided to launch an official business, I got myself a website, I listed myself on the AAEP touch website, which does have a relief veterinarian network. And then that is when my business just started really flying. I mean, I was getting phone calls and emails every couple of days from people. And there was a lot of work that I couldn't do just based on time. I did end up getting licenses in a couple of different states as well as traveling to Australia for three months to work and travel, which was super awesome. And it was just a really great experience to get to travel and see different practices in different places. And also not work, you know, if I had something else going on. So that's what I ended up doing in Italy. He was spending a lot of time riding my bike and drinking coffee and then a lot of times flying back to the states and working pretty hard for a few weeks or a few months at a time. 
Was creating that relief business but also getting the time away, was that enough to kind of re spark your interest in practicing veterinary medicine? Because I know at one point you had considered moving into corporate practice. Was that relief work pivotal for you, or it was just to fill the time? 
I think at first I started it to fill the time. But then I realized that I actually really do enjoy being a veterinarian, but I did not enjoy the mundane, day to day, things that drag us all down. And doing relief work was the perfect balance of being able to practice medicine and talk to people because I've also realized that my favorite part of practice is meeting people and talking to people. So it was a really great way to meet lots of people and be out and about and feel fulfilled as far as that goes, but I didn't have to worry about you know, this staff member have been shown to work today or this person's not paying their bill or just all of the things that you know, as equine practice owners and doctors can attest, like, those are the things that get you. It's not the horses, it's the people and all the other stuff. So anyway, yes. Doing relief work was so fun, and I loved it and it was a really good way for me to realize that I really liked being an equine vet. I just, I guess I'm quite particular about what I want to do and how I want it to be done. 
And what have you transitioned to as far as career work now? 
 So after doing relief work for just about four years, I went to a private practice that I had relieved at and I stayed there for about a year. But to be honest, it was really snowy there and that was just like not going to work for me. 
It was a great place to be, but not when you're working outside. So I then have another friend of ours, Dr. Kelly Zeytoonian, who's been my best friend since we started at school at Virginia Tech, she owns a private practice out in California and she had been you know, kind of half heartedly pestering me come work out here, come work out here texting me pictures of people riding their bike during the day, and it's January, we're wearing t shirts, that kind of thing. And so anyway, she was expanding her practice right when I was deciding that I couldn't live in the snow anymore. And so it just kind of fit that I did move to California and I'm now working with Kelly at her practice trying to expand the geographic footprint of her five doctor equine practice. 
So what advice would you have for veterinarians or employers looking to hire associates as far as thinking about scheduling themselves or potential hires? 
I think that people really value their time and being able to be flexible with scheduling and accommodating certain things can go a really long way. If you know that your person has Drill Team practice on Wednesday nights at six o'clock. It's not that hard to ensure that they can be there on Wednesday nights at six o'clock and that quality of life being able to do the things that bring you joy outside of work is really what sustains people on their day to day. 
Speaking of bringing you joy outside of work, I am curious as to one small thing that has brought you joy this week. 
This past week, the thing that has brought me joy is that the weather's been really good and I've been able to ride my bike outside of lunch, which is my favorite hobby and it makes me happy to be able to do that either before I go to work or after when I go home in the evening, and I've been busy at work, which is also making me feel joyful. 
Awesome. That's great. I'm glad to hear that. 
Do you know what I was realizing yesterday? That is a new sensation for me that I've never experienced during my career as an equine veterinarian. 
What is that? 
When the emergency phone rings, I don't feel anxious or sad or angry. I feel, like, fine. 
And do you think that's because you are excited to grow the business or what? 
I think because I feel like I have a personal connection to it as opposed to just being on call so someone else's life is better. 
And do you think that's because you like your boss so much, or because you know that in the future, there's potential to have ownership. 
I think I'm just way happier at work in general. Yeah. I mean, I've seen horses every day for the last two weeks in a row, I'm not even mad about it. Whereas like, if that was before, it would be a struggle to like feel like getting off the couch to go do it. 
That's interesting. 
Yeah. So it was like a big revelation. 
Yeah. Oh, I do have one more question for you. Travel is obviously hugely important to you. So I'm curious, where is the best place you've traveled? 
That obviously is a super hard question to answer. And best is a hard adjective. So I would say the most unique place, the place that has been the most different than the other places that I visited would be Morocco. I got I've been lucky enough to go there three times and visit different cities. And it is beautiful. The people are so friendly and so proud of their country and their traditions. And it is just unlike any other place I've ever been. 
But then if you are going to say in mainland Europe, what's your favorite place that you travel to? I would tell you it's the southern coast of Spain. It's just awesome. Everyone's having snacks and having a drink and no one's in a rush and everyone's outside and it is awesome. So you know if you're planning a trip you could definitely actually do both of those. Lots of flights go from Spain to Morocco, you could definitely do a nice thing as far as that goes. So those would be my favorite. 
Perfect. Morocco was not even on my list, but I might have to add it. Alrighty, Cara, do you have any parting words of wisdom for the listeners today? 
So I guess what I would encourage people to think about which took me time in Italy when I wasn't working to learn about myself and to reflect on it would be to tell yourself that your time is important. Even if you are working in a job that is demanding and potentially soul sucking, I hope not and you're being pulled in different directions whether you're a mom or you're juggling two jobs or whatever you're doing, just remember that your time is important. If you need to walk your dogs every day for 30 minutes to feel then and good like do that for yourself. Because if you don't look out for that time and protect it, no one else is going to do it for you. 
Seriously, ain't that the truth. Cara, Thank you so much for joining me. I have had a lot of fun chatting. If the listeners want to hear more, the website for the practice is, Cara's email, I will link in the show notes, but it's If anyone has questions about relief or anything like that talking to you, is social media a good way to get in touch with you or what's the best way? 
Sure, yeah, you can shoot me an email. You can find me on Facebook. I'm a member of sort of all the equine groups on there. I've actually had a few people reach out to me about how to start or go about doing relief work. So I'm happy to chat about that. I still do have my relief website up there, which is So feel free to check that out. 
Well, I really appreciate you spending some of your spare time with me. It's been really fun, so, thank you. 
It has been fun, to talk to you later. 
Thanks for listening to today's episode. And thanks again to Dr. Cara Wright for spending some time chatting with me. It was really fun. I hope you guys are enjoying the show. If you have any ideas, please feel free to send me a message on Facebook or Instagram or email me at See you next Thursday! 

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