Becoming a Veterinary Professional by guest author Lori Hehn, DVM
There are many things to think about as you prepare yourself to go out into the workplace after veterinary school. You will finally be a professional in the field of veterinary medicine! It may seem a little intimidating, but there are some things you can do to help yourself prepare for the transition. Every student has a different situation at home. Do you have student loans? Are you single or do you have a family to consider? Have you found a job locally or will you be moving to a new location? Will you be working alone or with other veterinarians? Will you be doing an internship? Are you going into day practice? Will you be on call for emergencies? No matter your situation, there are some things that can help you prepare for all of those factors and transition into the real world of being a doctor!
1) Dress professional
We have all heard the term “dress for success.” There is some truth to this statement. When you have a 15 minute appointment, your first impression is huge. You want to look and be very professional in the room so the client can start to build confidence in you as their pet’s doctor. If you are a young graduate, many clients will question if you are the veterinarian. Try not to take offense. Be confident, let them know where you went to school, and answer any questions they have. It is helpful to wear your white coat in the first year at least. It makes you appear more professional and you will have higher compliance.
2) Be clear
Know before you go into the room why the pet is in your clinic. Try to inform yourself about the pet’s basic history and presenting complaint. This will help you to prepare a plan for this pet so that you can make appropriate recommendations and ask additional questions that may help you make a diagnosis or treatment plan. This shows the client that you care about their pet. Call the pet and the owner by name and make eye contact. Let the client know the clear plan you recommend, ask if they have any questions, and if there are concerns, tailor your plan to fit the needs of that client and pet, all while making your recommendations very clear. Always document the recommendations and plan in the medical record.
3) Get organized
As a professional, you will have multiple responsibilities. You will likely be caring for multiple patients simultaneously. You want to have an organized way to see these patients efficiently, and you will need to make sure that all tasks are completed for each case. Write down a treatment plan for hospitalized patients so the technicians who are helping you will know what needs to be done and when. Ultimately, you are responsible for your patients.
4) Ask for help
Everyone needs help sometimes, not just new graduates. The best thing you can do is to learn from your colleagues. If you have a complicated case or forget something, do not ever be afraid to ask for help! We all learn from each other and continue to grow in this way. If you are working alone, have a list of numbers you may call for consults if you need to do so. Also, there are many radiology review services if you need help interpreting an x-ray. Utilize those resources if needed!
5) Make a Budget
Prepare for your future by making a long term and short term list of goals and a budget based on your income. You will not want to have financial stress as you are trying to establish a career. Those that are less stressed are better producers and enjoy their job much more.
6) Hold high standards
Never, ever, compromise your standards of care. Remember that it is your license. If you are going into a practice and you see something that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to speak up. Do it in a kind and professional way and suggest that for your cases you would like it done in a certain manner. Many older veterinarians are still doing things they did 30 years ago and may not know a different or better way. They love to learn new techniques and are almost always open to new suggestions or ways of doing things. They can learn from you just as you can learn from them!
This is the most important thing of all. Respecting others and clearly communicating to your staff, colleagues, and clients is essential for success. The majority of lawsuits happen because of miscommunication. Be clear about the plan, provide an estimate for services, and always keep the clients updated with any changes.
8) Schedule personal time
You will be much more successful if you are well-rounded! Everyone needs a hobby. Read a book, go hiking, meet up for lunch with friends (that are not veterinarians), start a new project. Just take in the world around you and do not let your life completely revolve around your work. This is the hardest thing to do as a new graduate. You will have nights you need to come home and read about a case or surgery. You will work later because you will be a little slower at your medical records. In time, it will get easier! You have to schedule personal time during this transition to keep your sanity and so that you do not burn out!
Attend continuing education meetings and meet other veterinarians. See how they run their practice and talk about new things you are doing in practice or an interesting case you saw. You never know who you will meet or if they may be a good contact for you later on. Also try to get involved in your community.
10) Be proud of your accomplishments and always strive to do better the next day.
If you continue to improve and work hard every day, success will come easily. Good luck to you all as you get ready for graduation in the next couple of months. For those still in school, continue to work hard because vet school will be over before you know it! It is never too early to start thinking about your plans after school.
How to Land Your Dream Job
They say getting in is the hardest part.
“They” don’t know how challenging vet school can be.
But you are in the middle of it and you know that it is very difficult; lots of late nights studying, worrying about your patients, mountains of debt, a giant board exam to pass prior to graduation and then, oh yeah, I guess you should think about getting a job too.
We put together a list of what you should be considering when looking for that DREAM JOB:
- Know what Employers are Seeking in a Vet
- The Top Tips for Finding a Job
- Tips for the Interview
- ...and more!