Welcome to KICK ASS VETS and thank you for taking the time to get to know me a bit better!

I wanted to write this blog in order to introduce myself to you, and to help you understand my motivations and desires behind KICK ASS VETS, and to give you an insight into who I am as a person. Honesty and transparency are important to me, so I want to display my ideas, values and moral code clearly to everyone that I interact with, especially those that might be seeking my advice via KICK ASS Consulting.
Veterinary Story:
Image of Dr. Ann Herbst with a border collie puppy
Enjoying some puppy cuddles while at work. I am lucky to truly love my job!
My journey as a veterinarian started when I was in 1st year of my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’ and my mother decided to tell my dog’s vet that I wanted to be a vet (which I had never expressed an interest in) and lined up for me to job shadow. Not wanting to be rude, and being a ‘yes’ sayer, I went… and as mother’s often know best.. I loved it.

I then applied to vet school, was “Rejected” (yes, that is what it said on the online portal- devastating isn’t it??) the first time, and tried again the following year. I got accepted on my second try, and after a 3 year undergrad in Biochemistry I started my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree at the Ontario Veterinary College.

I loved school, and enjoyed my degree. Since I worked at the veterinary emergency clinic through my undergrad degree, I discovered a love of emergency medicine even before starting vet school. When I graduated I picked a clinic that was GP but with on-call after hours to get some emergency experience, and then after 10 months moved into full time emergency work.

It is now 8 years later, and I have worked in many different emergency and general practice clinics, including referral centres, due to working more than one job at once for most of my career, locuming, and moving cities, countries and continents throughout the past decade. I have now found one clinic where I am incredibly happy working, and for the first time am not working extra jobs! I work in a busy emergency and referral centre, managing emergencies and complex cases that stay in hospital. I genuinely love my career!

I have progressed in my career due to hard work, and genuinely striving every year, every day, every case, to be a better vet. I try to never become complacent, and always try to learn and grow. I say ‘yes’ to challenges, and push myself to improve all the time. This has led me to be a valuable asset to my workplace, which has allowed me to achieve a wonderful job, wonderful schedule, and wonderful work-life balance! Hard work definitely pays off, but you do need to advocate for yourself as well as putting in the hard work!
Sporting my KICK ASS VETS Scrub Cap! Empowering and giving even myself when I need to jump into a difficult surgery at work. Contact Us if you would like a scrub cap!
KICK ASS VETS was started after being frustrated by seeing good vets become jaded after being taken advantage of and burning out. It has been an incredibly positive experience and outlet for me, and has allowed me to truly feel like I am making a difference in this profession.

Through social media Instagram and Facebook, this website, and my blogs, podcasts ( Spotify and Apple Podcasts), and through my KICK ASS Consulting, I have had the pleasure of working with and helping a ton of amazing veterinary professionals improve their careers. I have helped individuals determine what career options to pursue, including letting them know about options they didn’t even know existed. I have increased salaries, decreased working hours, and improved work-life balance for vets. I have even seen clinics change their whole approach to working hours and salaries of the whole team, from these consults and interventions.

To say that I am appreciative of everyone that follows me, shares my message, and most importantly implements my message into their own lives and careers is a massive understatement. By individuals advocating for themselves, we are slowly changing the whole industry, and in the past 5 years I have seen a massive shift of how veterinary staff are treated by employers, and I like to think that I have played a small part in that shift.

KICK ASS VETS has allowed me to help others, but also to find peace and catharsis with my own frustrations with the industry, as I truly feel that I am now part of the solution.
Personal Story:
I am not just a veterinarian, although my workaholic ways you might think that sometimes! I am also an individual, and I like to think I’m an interesting one!
Image of Dr. Ann Herbst on a rock cliff above the clouds
Part of the Highest Via Ferrata in the world , legs burning after climbing Mount Kinabalu that early early morning!
My husband and I have been together for over a decade, meeting when I was 21 and getting married 8 years later. In the time we have been together we have explored over 40 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. We have spent over a year or more cumulatively travelling, and we travel light and small, out of backpacks, camping when we can, and using public transport and ‘living local’ as much as possible.
Dr. Ann Herbst amoungst a school of red-toothed trigger fish
Snorkelling with some beautiful red-toothed trigger fish in the Maldives!
I love to scuba dive and snorkel, hike, and do anything that involves seeing animals in any way possible. We have been lucky enough to see Mountain Gorillas, Elephants, Lions, Giraffes, Whales, Sharks, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Komodo dragons…. etc, etc. etc… all in the wild! We have hiked mountains, slept at the top of an active volcano, and trekked across wild country.

We accomplish this travel by our ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. We would work very hard, often 60-80hours/week, multiple jobs, and then take a few months off in a row, and go travel. We ate plainly and minimally, we stayed in flea infested, sometimes dirty and downright dangerous places, and wild camped- all to keep costs down to spend on more opportunities. We live plainly and are frugal in our daily lives to save for traveling! (I have also been very lucky to graduate with minimal debt as Canada subsidizes education massively, and I recognize this as a huge advantage financially!).
Dr. Ann Herbst with a stuffed kangaroo and an Ironman Finisher Medal
Taking a picture with Bouncer (our kangaroo that travels with us everywhere!) after finishing the Ironman in 13hr 35min! Bucket List Item: CHECK!
I also try hard to stay fit, and in 2017 accomplished my goal of completing a full distance Ironman race (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run). Since then my fitness has been up and down due to work commitments, and injuries, and most recently pregnancy.

I am now starting off my next big adventure with my husband, as we just had a baby, and are now exploring parenthood, in a trial by fire method! We are doing our best, but call our parenting style ‘survival parenting’, doing our best but not putting too much pressure on ourselves to be ‘perfect’. (for more on my pregnancy and labour experience see my Instagram stories under Pregnancy highlights.)

Otherwise, I spend my time trying to keep life under control, getting outside and exercising as much as possible, sometimes getting caught in a Netflix time-warp, working on KICK ASS VETS, and working as a veterinarian, all while trying to also make time to have lots of dates with my husband, and lots of time for love and play for our baby.
So, I hope that gives you a bit of an idea about me as a person, who I am, what I believe in and stand-for, and how I live my life. If you have any questions for me about my veterinary life, my KICK ASS VETS initiative, or about my personal life including travel questions, Contact Us!
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published July 3rd, 2021

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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