You made it through four years of undergrad, four years of vet school, and you are now a legit dog-tor!
Now what? What is it about entering “the real world” that is so terrifying even after years and years of rigorous schooling?
You graduated, and maybe you thought you were done with school.
Ha! The classroom just looks different now…
One of the beautiful things about vet med is you Never. Stop. Learning. You learn about new disease processes. You learn that there is a different way to approach a case you’ve seen several times before. You learn that approximately three billion forms are required to import a dog to Australia.
Boy, do you learn… Here are five morsels of knowledge I have collected that I can pass on to you:
You shouldn’t let “perfect” get in the way of “good enough”!
You’re not going to know how to do everything on your first day. You’re going to have to think on your feet. Stuff isn’t always going to look the way it does in textbooks. You may be reading a book on the surgery you’ve never done fifteen minutes before you gown up… it happens!
“Perfect” is an illusion. Getting shit done is the attainable goal.
Find a mentor at work.
Vet med is hard. Having a sounding board at work is crucial to your professional development. It’s also a sanity saver. Consider this when searching for a practice that meets your needs. Do they have a mentorship program? Is there someone there you feel comfortable enough asking to be your mentor?
Find healthy outlets outside of work.
Repeat after me: YOU ARE MORE THAN A VET. You have other interests, other gifts. Don’t forget to pursue and nurture those. They’re what make you YOU! Making time for them will ultimately make you a better veterinarian anyway.
You’ve got the animal medicine down, but keep working on your client communication skills.
Seriously, your knowledge of animal anatomy, pharmacology, and immunology is great, but you NEED to know how to communicate with clients. Not just in terms and phrases they can understand. You need to learn skills for de-escalating clients, talking openly and honestly about cost and time, and other difficult topics.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang is a wonderful resource for client communication tools. She keeps it real and makes tough topics much easier to understand and a little bit less cringe-worthy. Check out her website.
Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.
It’s important to trust in yourself. Trust in your skills. Trust in your knowledge. Trust your gut! You will keep learning, but you have also prepared for this entrance into the real world, and you know more than you think. YOU are unstoppable.