March 1, 2023 | Vet Graduate | Veterinary

Confessions of a New Graduate Vet: Six Months in…

I honestly cannot believe I am already past my first 6 months at work! The year below me at vet school are currently preparing for their finals which seems crazy! Will I not always be the newbie?!

I have started to find out where my areas of interest lie; feline medicine and soft tissue surgery! If you’d have asked me last year, my answers would have probably been definitely not cats or surgery! It’s funny how things change…maybe it’ll change again.

So I’ve experienced my first complaint which I suppose isn’t bad over six months. I was obviously devastated at the time and there were tears but my excellent team supported me through it. It was a situation where I did everything as I should have done but the client had misunderstood how general practice works – Nothing a bit of good communication didn’t sort out! It is so hard not to take complaints personally and I know I’ll have to develop a thicker skin. As vets, we tend to be the perfectionist type, aiming to please everyone and are highly self-critical. The truth is, you will not please everyone, no matter what you do. Making sure your clinical notes are accurate and up to date is very important so that if a client twists a story, you have some back up. When admitting a patient for a procedure I write down everything I have discussed with them and what I have checked on the animal. I record everything I say in a phone call and also any attempts to contact a client and any voicemail messages left.

I am still building up my own client base which I love. I genuinely enjoy getting to know my clients and following a case through to the end helps me learn what works and what doesn’t. I remember when I was a student a vet once told me “some people will think you’re a god and others will think you’re s**t.’ And they’re so right. Every ten minute consult is different and you meet so many different types of people. There’s the ones that overreact to everything and are convinced their perfectly healthy animal is dying. Then you get the opposite end of the spectrum where the animal has a potentially fatal condition and all the owner is bothered about is that you clip the dog’s nails (yes, true story!).

I’ve stopped doing work stuff at home which was hard because you feel like there’s so much to learn but if you’re constantly reading vet stuff then it’s really hard to switch off and fall asleep. Every time I’ve panicked about a consult I have booked in the next day and spend hours researching it, they cancel! I had a rabbit to see with scabs on its face so had my list of differentials ready and potential plans of action – next day it disappeared from my list. So now I just go with the flow and have realised you don’t need to get to diagnosis at the first consult. Sometimes you never reach one. You may have your gold standard path you want to take, but the client may not necessarily have the funds – so you have to adapt it and do the best you can within their budget.

I have to admit I was getting overtired and stressed at work over the last month. It suddenly seems to have gotten super busy and I hate running behind. I am trying to forget about the waiting room and give those in my consult room my full attention! After taking some holiday time, I am now feeling refreshed and motivated to get back to it! I am living my childhood dream after all!

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March 1, 2023 | Vet Graduate | Veterinary