Talking With Pet Doctors

3 Tips To Make Your First Vet Job A Valuable Career-Building Experience

by Christy Adams

Transitioning from school to the workplace is difficult for any job, but it can be especially challenging for new DVMs. After completing your undergraduate and veterinary degrees, you're probably nervous about finally entering the workforce. While nothing can fully eliminate these jitters, it can help to know that you're embarking on a challenging career where you can make a real difference.

Of course, you also need to consider your future and long-term goals. Fortunately, your first job can be a critical part of your career-building journey, but it's important to take proactive steps to get the most from this first position and your initial real-world experience. These three tips will help ensure your first job is an enriching experience supporting your career for many years into the future.

1. Recognize Your Limitations

If you're like most people, you'll probably walk in on your first day ready to take on the world. While having a "go-getter" attitude can be great, it can also potentially lead to burnout and frustration. Veterinary work is challenging, and there's no substitute for the real-world experience you'll only gain with years on the job.

Although you should help where you can and take on those tasks you feel confident about, you should avoid over-extending yourself or biting off more than you can chew. Remember that you're still learning, so don't feel you need always to take extra shifts or go above and beyond. Giving yourself a little breathing room will make it easier to absorb knowledge from your coworkers and improve your skills.

2. Ask Questions

It's common for people in high-skill, professional jobs to feel as if they need to know everything from day one. In reality, the other veterinarians and veterinary technicians at your first job will likely know far more than what you've learned at school. Your colleagues will bring years of experience to the table, and there's a lot you can learn from them.

If you feel there's something you don't know, don't be afraid to speak up. Nobody expects you to have comprehensive knowledge on your first day or even your first year. Asking your coworkers questions will help fill in gaps in your knowledge and build the practical skills that you can only develop with plenty of time on the job.

3. Listen to Your Clients

Your clients know their pets and can often recognize when something is wrong. Listen carefully and with a sympathetic ear when they tell you what they believe is wrong, and avoid bringing your own preconceptions to the table. You can't do everything to please everyone, but a good bedside manner will make your clients happier and may even make your patients a little more comfortable around you.

Ultimately, it's critical to remember that you're making a difference in the lives of your clients and their pets. By keeping a focus on them, you'll be able to learn the skills you need to deal with both people and their animals.

To learn more about veterinarian jobs, check out online job boards,