Congratulations! All your hard work as finally paid off and you are now the proud owner of an MRCVS after your name!
Gradiation from veterinary school is a huge achievement but you do have more challenges ahead and although the beginning of your career is an exciting time, it isn’t always an easy one.
So here are the Vet Pursuits team Top Ten Tips to hlep you navigate this phase of your career:
- Continue Learning: Veterinary medicine is a constantly evolving field, so commit to lifelong learning. Although you may have had enough of studying for a while, simply reading our magazines, scrolling veterinary social media pages, listening to podcasts and tuning into the odd webinar will give you a good level of information for now. Looking forward, attending conferences is always fun and a good chance to catch up with friends and there are now many courses aimed at new graduates which can be a great way to ease yourself into your career. At some point you may want to embark on a Certificate or put some real direction into your CPD but un the early months, don’t over-think it too much!
- Nuture your Support Network: Keep in touch with your vet school friends, they will be a hugely valueable support network now and for the future. But also, don’t be afraid to connect with experienced veterinarians and colleagues. Seek guidance, ask questions, and collaborate. We have all been where you are and know how hard it can be!
- Time Management: This isn’t always easy but efficiently managing your time balancing appointments, surgeries, paperwork, and personal life is important. Focus on the thing you are doing right now and try to compartmentalise to some extent. Your work and personal life will mix into each other, this is really normal, but one should not negatively impact on the other. Try to prioritize tasks, delegate when possible, and maintain a schedule that allows for self-care and downtime.
- Trust Your Communication Skills: Effective communication with pet owners is crucial. Developing excellent listening skills, empathy, and the ability to explain complex medical terms in simple language takes time but it will have been part of your training and you are already good at it! And that clear communication builds trust and will strengthen your relationships with clients.
- Develop Your Diagnostic and Practical Skills: You know a huge amount, your training has given you a brilliant level of information and the skills to apply it practically but your early time in practice is about really honing that practical aspect. Get as hands on as possible and don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for their support. A good practice will gladly assist you in surgery but let you lead, will be happy for you to do work-ups, scans and take xrays but shouldn’t be far away to offer their advice and do ask for it! The more you practice and refine your skills, the better veterinarian you will become.
- Stay Organized: Keep accurate records of patient histories, treatment plans, and follow-up appointments. It is easy to be tempted to move straight from one appointment to another and think you will write them up later but details are easily forgotten! Even writing some shorthand and then going back will be helpful. You won’t be as fast a an experienced vet and that is OK. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with them. Slow and steady is the key!
- Stay Calm: This is easiler said than done but in a busy clinic, some days can feel like things are coming at you from all sides and that there is a pressure on you to keep up, to not make mistakes and to be able to answer every question and challenge thrown at you. The key is to take a deep breath, focus and take on one task at a time. You may even need to shut the consult room door for 5 minutes, take a walk on your lunchbreak or simply ask a colleague to give you a second or find someone else for that task. Most clinics are sensitive to the pressure you are under but don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and give yourself a little headspace when you need it.
- Develop Client Education Skills: Helping pet owners to understand things like preventive care, disease management, and overall pet wellness, is not only hugely rewarding but also empowers owners to make informed decisions for their pets and will deepen the trust they have in you. If you can, try to take the time to direct them to online educational resources, print out handouts, and give them recommendations for further learning, if they want them. For good rescources to direct them to, ask your colleagues, all experienced vets and nurses will have their favourite places to send owners to to learn more!
- Seek Mentorship: Having a mentor who can guide you through the challenges of your early career is invaluable. With the PDP you should be given an assigned person but they don’t have to be the only one you turn to. You can have many mentors! But do try to find at least one who will listen and support you in a positive and non-judgemental way. They can offer advice, share their experiences, and help you navigate difficult situations.
- Self-Care: This is probably the most important point of all. It is absolutely vital to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Veterinary medicine can be demanding and stressful, so prioritize the things that make you happy and let you relax. Exercise, hobbies, spending time with friends and loved ones, and taking regular breaks will all be hugely beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Remember that veterinary medicine is a lifelong journey of learning and growth. Stay passionate, curious, and dedicated to providing the best care for your patients. Good luck in your veterinary career!