Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Dear New Grad,
I am writing to welcome you to the profession! Being a veterinarian is as amazing as you thought, with all the ups and downs that you were expecting. Don't worry, it's okay to feel nervous on your first day. We were all there. It's okay to feel like you might pass out or puke. It's going to be okay.
When you get stuck, whether you are stuck with a difficult case, or stuck with the difficulties of communicating with clients, make sure that you reach out to your friends, those ones that you spent four grueling years with. Make sure you keep in touch with them through the wins and the losses over the next few months. When you feel stuck, reach out. You have those classmates who I can guarantee are in the same boat as you. You may have a colleague that is a few years ahead of you that you can reach out to, and you have your mentors. Do not forget that you can always look things up. You also have VIN, FaceBook groups, and Instagram colleagues that I am sure will prop you up when you need it. When you get lab work back that is confusing, call the laboratory for a consultation, they are always willing to help. If you are not sure if you should refer a case now, or wait, call your emergency clinic and speak with the doctor that's on. My first week I did that and it was exactly what the patient needed.
Do not forgot to be honest and tell the client when you can't recall something. It's okay, just tell them you need a moment to look it up, or can you email them some information later today? Or can they give you a minute while you consult with your colleagues in the building, or over the phone, whatever it may be, be honest. People always value integrity over knowledge. I also learnt early on from a mentor, do not apologize for running late, thank them for their patience.
Do not let your fears or anxiety consume your time away from the clinic. This is your time, and you need to value it, or others won't. You have a long way to go in this profession. It is not a mad dash to the finish line, but a long journey ahead. Preserve your mental sanity. Take time to decompress during the day. We get so used to eating our lunch at our desk, if we get a lunch at all, but take time for yourself, even 2 minutes to get outside of the clinic for some fresh air, walk around the block.
If you ever feel like your work situation has morals or ethics that do not align with your own, do not feel pressured to stay. I declined working at a clinic that still performed declaws with their neuters and spays, so can you. If you feel like you are being bullied, do not forget that it is okay to say this is not the right fit for me. You are not a failure if you chose the wrong clinic to start at. I know I did, and many of my classmates did as well. You deserve work-life balance, whether you choose to take it or not is up to you. Do not let the culture of the previous generation dictate how you live, or practice. This is your life. Remember that every aspect of veterinary medicine has evolved over time, and seasoned veterinarians need to evolve with this. Not every case needs antibiotics, and it is okay to culture every urine. Every dental procedure deserves radiographs, before and after, if the clinic does not have the appropriate equipment it is okay to refer. You have the most up-to-date knowledge there is in our profession, do not forget this.
All this being said, remember that your knowledge has value. You cannot get what you do not ask for. Be willing to negotiate for what you feel is important to you. Set yourself some professional, and personal goals for your life.
Be kind to yourself.
Your Colleague and Virtual Friend,
Click here to read my story on how I quit my first job as a veterinarian.