The search for your ‘perfect’ practice

Robyn Lowe RVN works in first opinion small animal practice as a veterinary nurse but has many other area of interest with our profession! She writes regular articles for various publications and is a keen promoter of evidence based medicine. She is also a passionate supporter of our professions mental well-being and is the first Veterinary Nurse to be a trustee of VetLife

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We all dream of the day we find our perfect practice, that day can come early in your career or take many years and lots of trials and tribulations to finally find your work family. The fact of the matter is there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ practice. Every practice will have positives and negatives, but like Cinderella’s glass slipper there is usually a perfect fit for you out there, you just have to get past the two ugly sisters first.

Every practice is individual, as are you. So, what doesn’t work for one person can certainly fit into your life, personality and working style. For me, I had experience at a number of practices that weren’t my perfect fit. But I don’t resent that time, I moved on quickly and they taught me what I won’t accept from my employment, but also learnt many valuable things about myself there too. 

Then I found the practice I am currently at, and for now the glass slipper fits perfectly. What does that mean to me? 

For me it means a practice that encourages education, that changes protocols in the face of new evidence instead of stagnating. A practice that expects high standards, but also celebrates those achievements too. This is a practice that hones individual employee’s specific passions and allows them to use those to provide more services for clients, a practice that encourages audits and research. This is a building where reception, axillary staff and clinical staff elicit the same level of respect, where the reception teams are celebrated for the immense work they do, where the axillary staff are encouraged to be inquisitive, and the clinical staff remain diligent to evidence-based medicine. This is a place where the bosses will pick up a mop to help shut down at the end of the night, where the Registered Veterinary Nurses are delegated to, utilised and trusted, and where the surgeons feel able to ask their collogues when dealing with a tricky case. This is a place where your review actually results in meaningful changes from what’s been discussed and brought up, when rotas are changed to allow shadowing for staff members who want to learn. A practice that supports me taking on additional job roles outside of them, and encourages my hobbies and interests outside of work. 

And that’s just the running of the practice, what really makes it is the team. And it’s a team that becomes your second family – because you spend a lot of time with them, you’ve got to get along! Having a team that works together, supports, encourages and laughs together makes everything more bearable when you’re facing a full ward, or a busy operations list (+ those 3 emergencies) or consulting blocks that is booked up at 8.30am! This is a team who appreciate their colleague’s profound value from the team on the front desk who can multitask beyond comprehension, the axillary staff who keep the practice running, and the clinical staff that work to provide high standard of veterinary care to patients, despite the pressure of an ever-growing caseload.

That is what my current perfect fit means to me – but what do you want?

If a practice hasn’t been your perfect fit, then remember how recruitable you are! You are a member of a profession experiencing work force issues. It is in a practices interest to provide an environment that is supportive and sustainable in an age of ever-growing pressure on veterinary professionals. Sit down and assess what about your current situation is not making you happy, then make sure that you find a practice that changes that. After all we don’t necessarily need to find a ‘perfect’ glass slipper fit, just a pair of supportive and welcoming sketchers will do!

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