“I have always wanted to do this – be a veterinarian. I was always very focused on my career.”
But years of juggling family responsibilities with a busy, intense work environment made Dr. Meredith Murphy Pieper sit back and reflect on her career.
Maybe it was time to take some time off. Then opportunity hit when Pieper’s husband, Dr. Jason Pieper (’09) was offered a dermatology faculty position at Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I told Jason when we moved, maybe I didn’t want to work at all,” Pieper said. “I didn’t want to get back into the same bad situation I had been in before.”
The Piepers moved back to Central Iowa last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those first few months, no in-person elementary school classes were held. So instead of treating dogs and cats, Meredith homeschooled the couple’s children.
When classes resumed full-time, she looked to get back into the profession she loved. She took a part-time position, working a few days a month before accepting a part-time job at another clinic this fall that allows her the flexibility and positive work environment she desires.
Just as importantly, it allowed Pieper the chance to resume her life-long passion.
“I wanted to get back working, at least part-time, so that my skills would stay sharp and I missed the interactions I had with animals and people,” she said.
It was her love for veterinary medicine that led Pieper into the profession in the first place. Since graduation she has worked in small animal clinics in Phoenix and Illinois. It was at the Illinois clinic that she says things got out of hand.
Long hours, a stressful workplace, and a busy patient schedule began to take their toll. Pieper cared so much for her patients and clients that she couldn’t leave the job at the door.
“I got burned out, depressed and fatigued by what my life had become, and it was getting to the point things would have gotten worse. I dreaded going to work every day,” she said. “Moving back to Iowa was a great opportunity to get out of that situation and start over again.
“It was my saving grace.”
Pieper is back in a clinic but she is purposely making decisions for herself and family so she doesn’t get burnt out or feel the same way again.
“This is the first time in a long time that I’m excited and happy to be back practicing veterinary medicine,” she said.