Do you feel like a pro yet? Well, if you do not, there is no need to worry. You still have one more post left to read in our three part series. If you missed the other two blog posts, feel free to go back and read them afterwards.
So, have you created your notebook like Monica, or are you more of a phone type and want to use your notes app instead like Ashley? Both have pros and cons, so choose whatever format is easiest for you. A friend of ours used a clipboard instead to write her cheat sheet on, and this allowed her to keep all of her patient intake sheets in one place, so she never lost them. Serves TWO purposes!
When making your cheat sheets, these are some good tips to get you started. We recommend starting it while you are in clinics, so you have less work to do after graduation. Over time, you will know exactly what to put in there based on the cases you are seeing on a daily basis. Keep referring back to it so that you can memorize it to make you more efficient.
-- Start a collection of drugs you use, the dosage range, frequency of use, and formulations it comes in.
-- Write down common cases you see, the typical work-up, and medications that are prescribed in treatment (Many times we treat empirically, so this gives you a baseline to refer to when a client cannot afford diagnostics.).
-- Notate any helpful client communication tips you hear while listening to other vets talk to owners.
-- Create a cheat sheet with your shock fluid doses, emergency drug doses, etc. so that you can refer to it quickly for a STAT patient.
Lastly, there are THREE phone numbers you should have written down for easy access. They will be your lifeline when you need extra help on a case.
1. ASPCA Animal Poison Control: (888) 426-4435; You can also go to their website for quick information. It is an easy website to direct clients to if they have toxicity concerns with their pet. They can call ASPCA directly, pay the consult fee (currently $65), and get advice on if their pet needs to be seen. If they recommend a vet visit, your client will come with a case number, which allows you to call and talk to a toxicology specialist for help in managing the case. How awesome is that!?
2. Local specialty and emergency hospital; You can call them anytime to discuss a case that you are either actively referring and hoping to refer. Specialists love to talk to you and help out on cases. They can provide you with an estimate to prepare the owner and any further advice on the case. We will have an entire chapter in our book on "How and when to refer" to help you with this too. Stay tuned!
3. Critical Consults: (844) NEED-ECC; This is a great service for those working in emergency. It is especially helpful if you are working overnight shifts. This service allows you to connect with an ECC specialist to help you manage a case 24/7! It is very affordable, and you can pass the charge off on the client's bill. We always word it to owners like this..."Unfortunately Chance is not responding as we would like him to with our treatments, so we are going to reach out to a boarded specialist to discuss his case in detail. They will help us determine if there is anything else we need to do and help by being a second opinion." We have never had an issue with a client understanding this. It is a way to be thorough without transferring their pet to another facility.
Let's discuss some other things you can do to prepare at home before your first day.
-- Ask your employer for a list of all available inventory in the hospital. By having this ahead of time, you can get familiar with the drugs, parasite preventatives, and diets your hospital has in stock. That way, if you are not familiar with something, you can look it up ahead of time. It saves you from fumbling on your first day when a client asks what heartworm or flea/tick medication you recommend.
-- Get helpful veterinary apps on your phone that you can easily access like a Plumb's formulary (It can be hard to find the paperback option in a busy hospital!...high demand), Purina app (It has all their diets and indications for use in one easy place!), and more.
-- Hop on the hospital website and start studying the staff photos so that you can become familiar with staff and doctor's names. This makes it a lot less intimidating your first day when you need to ask someone a question.
-- See if any of the doctors on staff would be willing to have lunch or dinner with you prior to your first day. It is a great way to make a friend or find a mentor, and they can talk through any of your questions or concerns. You will also be able to get some insight on the schedule, flow of hospital, etc. to make your first day a little smoother.
It is time for our favorite topic..client communication! We have a few more tips here to follow along with the other two blog posts. We know that confidence can take time to develop as a new grad vet. The easiest way to "seem confident" is by doing this. When you get in the room, introduce yourself like we discussed in our second blog post. Then, just start talking about how awesome their pet is! It is that simple. If the pet is not anxious or nervous, get down on the floor and start by petting, playing, and offering treats to them. It breaks the ice, and it shows how much you care! Clients obviously love their pets, so by giving their pet this attention from the get-go, you stand out. It shows you care because sometimes we forget to do these little things when we get busy.
We came into this profession for the pets, and it can be as simple as complimenting their pet, spending an extra minute playing with their pet to learn what tricks they know, or pointing out when you are seeing one of your favorite breeds. These little steps will bring clients in BEGGING to see you.
Lastly, we both strongly recommend being eye level with your clients when you talk to them. The "old school" mentality of standing up over your client while they are sitting down does not fly with us. We feel that it humanizes our approach by either sitting on a chair eye level with a client or sitting on the floor. It is less intimidating to both the client AND pet, and it makes it seem less like we are "talking down to them." This simple change in body language makes a big difference. We have seen this first hand, especially when discussing difficult subjects with owners.
Ok, VETS ON THE RISE FAM, we promise you are ready for this journey! If you are still feeling anxious, here is your final pep talk to read over and over again.
The vets that came before you survived being a new vet, and so will you. Remember, as you prepare for your first day, you are not alone.
Countless vets have come before you with the same knowledge you have...ready to face the same battle you are about to face. They made it, and so will you.
We are confident in that. Do not let imposter syndrome trick you into anything otherwise. Do not let your fears tell you that you are not good enough or that you will mess up more than others. Those are lies we all dealt with along this journey.
You have not made it this far to do poorly. Keep your chin up, work hard, and before you know it you will be on the other side looking back and wondering why you ever doubted yourself in the first place.
YOU GOT THIS! We are here to help you through this transition, so stay tuned for all we have coming your way.
Ashley and Monica