By Joleen Little BVSc MRCVS

So, you’ve worked hard to pass all of your exams and obtain certifications to become a qualified Veterinary Surgeon, or a Registered Veterinary Nurse and you have just started in your very first job. Congratulations!

But your first year as a brand-new veterinary professional can be a bit like a roller coaster with many ups and downs, and with a global pandemic added to the mix, it all can seem a little intimidating at first. You may be feeling too overwhelmed to be planning what your next steps should be, but thankfully there are many kind and helpful fellow industry professionals and remarkable resources that you can call on to ease you through the transition.

It’s time to remember all of the reasons why you chose this amazing career path and to get ready to kick start your veterinary career! You know you can, and will, succeed.

And to assist you on your journey, here are a few essential early veterinary career tips that we sourced from Veterinary Professionals who have “been there, done that” and thrived…

Find a Mentor

Never underestimate the power of a mentor relationship.

Finding a mentor may be one of the most important things you can do to launch your career. As a fresh Graduate, having a mentor to help and guide you through experiences they’ve already been through can be very beneficial. Find someone who you admire in their personality, character, and veterinary approach. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and you can learn a lot by talking with and watching your mentor. They may be able to connect you with other great mentors or even help you land your next career step.

Collaborating on ideas and new techniques not only benefits you, but it benefits the entire industry. People can learn a lot from exchanging thoughts between each other. For example, maybe your mentor hasn’t heard of a new surgery technique that you recently learned about in Veterinary school. You have the opportunity to share your knowledge as well. Both parties are gaining valuable insight, and the possibilities become endless. Continue to find mentors and leaders in the veterinary industry who can help you on your path to success. You’ll find lifelong friendships and incredible knowledge among these mentors. One day down the road they may be a great reference or be able to connect you with new job opportunities…and one day you will find yourself mentoring others.

Keep in Contact with Graduating Classmates

Along the lines of networking, keeping in contact with graduating classmates falls into this category as well. As you begin your career, you and your classmates can learn a lot from each other. Having a network of like-minded professionals from the school you graduated from creates a strong resource for you all. You’ve shared the same instructors, learned the same material, and overall tackled and completed a very tough program.

Keeping in contact will create an important support system as you go out into the world. Sharing vet job sites, leads, mentors, knowledge, and other tips from others going through the same situation as you can bring immense comfort knowing you’re not alone when the going gets tough. They’ll be there to listen to you vent or to hear all about the exciting job offer you just received. Your peers will be a great resource, so make sure not to take them for granted and to keep in contact with them regularly.

Social Media

This is a great tool for keeping in touch. Join online groups (via Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and reach out to your mates as well as industry leading professionals.  Networking will play a huge role in your success as a Vet or Nurse And remember, in this highly visible and transparent world, be kind, professional, and courteous as you introduce and market yourself.

Register for an Online Job Site

There are many veterinary-specific online job sites you can register for as well as ours here at Vets2Vets Recruitment. Take advantage of these but only sign up for a select one or two, and even if you are not looking now, you will be kept “in the loop” about prospective employers generally.

Register with Vet Industry Associations

Most Veterinary Industry Associations have staggered membership levels, especially for recently qualified veterinary professionals, so it can be quite cost effective to register. BVA, BSAVA, BCVA BEVA NIVA

Work Life Balance

You will hear this phrase a lot – and in our industry there is a wide variation. It’s very important to remember that work isn’t your whole life (even though it may feel like it at times). A busy and demanding job can quickly take over your entire life. You’ll be faced with many emotions as a veterinary professional making it hard to “shut your brain off” at times. It’s crucial you continue to stay in contact with family, grab dinner with friends, workout, engage in fun hobbies, and take breaks or mini-road trips whenever you can. Switching your brain off from work will allow yourself to return refreshed and excited to tackle the work week. Balance is a key element in a healthy and happy life!

Build Relationships Within Your Team

Having recently landed this great new job, you’ll need to grow new relationships within the team. Veterinary Practices aren’t just all about happy animals, successful practices need a strong and cohesive team that communicates openly and honestly to ensure your human clients and fellow team members are happy too. From the surgical suite to the front desk to the recovery areas, establishing a harmonious team that gets on well will ensure clients keep coming back again and again, and keep all the team working well together.

Be Confident and Trust Your Intuition

Being a Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse is undoubtedly one of the best jobs in the world.

You’ve been taught an abundance of knowledge and you’re starting to put it to work. As you begin your new career path, remember that you will have new situations thrown at you all the time. Throughout your veterinary career you’ll never stop learning, so be open to new ideas and different ways of accomplishing tasks. You may not always have a clear-cut answer. You’ll struggle and succeed. You’ll cry and you’ll laugh…plus explore a whole new world of emotions. In times like these remember to lean on your support networks to get you through. You’ll quickly gain experience and you’ll be looking back on your first year with well-deserved pride in no time at all.

And one final tip – learn to radiate confidence. You may not be an expert yet, but you do have “a very special set of skills” and contemporary knowledge. Be confident in all your training and skills, express yourself professionally at all times and follow your passion with your whole heart as you successfully progress through this first phase of the remarkable career you deserve.

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