If you don’t try, you won’t know

By Dr. Trina Bailey
Owner, Veterinary Surgeon, Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty Ltd.

If you are a working mom you probably ask yourself a similar question every day. How do you fit being a mom, a wife and a business owner into a 24-hour day? I ask myself this pretty much every day as I try to juggle the responsibilities of owning a business, being there for my family, clients and staff, and trying to look after myself as well. It takes hard work, compromise and cooperation. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some advice.

Anything worth doing is hard. I have never been known as someone to just sit around and wait for things to happen. Growing up in rural Newfoundland showed me that people who are successful, are also self-sufficient and very hard working.

My path to becoming a veterinarian wasn’t an easy one. I had wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I could remember, so I took all the right courses and did well in university. One hurdle that I didn’t foresee was the fact that I was applying from Newfoundland, which only had two seats at the Atlantic Veterinary College each year. After four years of applying and phoning the admissions department only to find out that I didn’t get in, I decided to move to Nova Scotia to establish residency so I could have a better chance of being accepted, and managed to finally get in. I learned an important life lesson from this experience – if a goal is important, don’t take no for an answer and sometimes the end result is achieved with some degree of compromise. The worst thing anyone can say is no, but that two letter word doesn’t constitute a final answer, it just may be a variation on a path.

After graduating from Veterinary College and working in the industry for several years, I decided to leave a very secure position at a university to follow a dream. I set out to open a hospital for pets in my home province of Newfoundland for pet owners who needed advanced care for their animals that couldn’t be provided by their regular veterinarians, either due to lack of training/experience or equipment. I wanted this hospital to provide compassionate, affordable and professional services to help alleviate some of the stress for having your animal in veterinary care.

I spent seven years building relationships my clients and within the veterinary community in Newfoundland and Labrador. Within five years of incorporating Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty with the help of my husband, I took this dream from a planning stage to a full service 24/7 veterinary referral and emergency hospital, which is the first of its kind in the province. It took a tremendous amount of hard work, at times serious compromise and approaching the tasks at hand with co-operation and a team attitude. Again, I heard the word “no” a few more times, but the next life lesson that I learned is that if a goal is worth pursuing, you do what you need to do to make it a reality, but you must recognize that the drive must come from you.

To run a 24/7 veterinary clinic, teamwork, asking for help and cooperation among staff and management is essential. It’s often difficult for me to acknowledge that I need help, but I remind myself that allowing others to help is not a weakness. This brings me to life lesson number three – it’s okay to recognize that you can’t do everything on your own and asking for help is not a fault or a weakness.

This also carries through to my home as a wife and mother of two children. My husband is a huge part of how I make it through that 24-hour work day. He works with me at our Veterinary Specialty Centre and has been a major part in our success. He’s been my cheerleader and support through school to a demanding career. With two active kids at home, we try to share the running around, but I must admit that he does the lion’s share. At times, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not being there. I wish I could be home more and my goal is to make that happen, but for now getting this clinic off the ground is my reality.

That feeling of not being able to do everything also rears its head at work. I often have to take a step back and look at the success of our business to recognize that we are also doing something right. Being a member of a team, both at home and at work, allows us to maximize what can be achieved in a day. I have worked very hard to get to this point in my career and continue to log long hours to support my staff and take care of our clients and patients, but I’m very proud of everything that we’ve achieved.

My last thought or words of wisdom to anyone who is embarking on a career path, applying for school, finishing a paper or project, or interviewing for a job, is that if you don’t try, you won’t know.

About the author: Dr. Trina Bailey is owner and veterinary surgeon at Bailey Veterinary Surgical Specialty Ltd. in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. She is the winner of the 2017 Staples Start-Up Award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards.