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Overcoming Challenges as a New Veterinarian

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Challenges will come, but remember you are not alone. No matter what is going on: You are part of OUR family now!

Let’s face it guys, vet medicine is not for the weak! The past few weeks we discussed various hurdles that you can have as a new vet and some tips for overcoming those hurdles!


We all went to veterinary school to pursue a long, fulfilled career as a veterinarian. As a young professional, there will be challenges you face out in practice that can take a toll on you. The difficult part is that you will not always be able to prepare for them when they happen. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These challenges will come unexpectedly and can cause a mix of emotions from stress to anxiety to fear to dread. We all know these emotions well, especially as a new grad. While you cannot predict what is thrown your way, you can control how you handle these challenges. Our hope is that by sharing our experiences, it will help you realize that you are not alone if they happen to you! We have been there and we created this community so that we can help YOU last in this profession. Never hesitate to reach out if you have topics you want us to discuss here. We LOVE to hear from you!


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How do you Prepare for the Darkside of Vet Medicine? It’s by developing a self care system!

Vet med is not for the faint of heart...or mind. Especially during your first year in practice.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Dr. Tarantino recounts as her peers and her went through all of the dreaded things we would read about online: self doubt, burnout (already?!), states of anxiety that we would take home... and so much more.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, how in the heck do you prepare for something that has not even happened yet? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Well, you start now. Here is one system I found helpful in prepping yourself for your practice in vet med! It's something you can start today and it's your self care system.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Simply put, take the 3 components that most impact your health and happiness: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1. Mental health⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2. Emotional health⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3. Physical health. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Write these down on a piece of paper giving ample space in between each category.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Then, for each category we want you to write a challenge you currently have in that category and what it looks like when you are at your best in each.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Mental health: maybe you write down imposter syndrome or self esteem. (Hint: Most vet's struggle with imposter syndrome.) If you have either of these issues now or know it will be something you'll struggle with, then start working on those now! Listen to a podcast like @thrivedvmpodcast for ideas or write down what you did in the past that helped you feel confident when tackling a problem. What are 3 things you can do daily now to help you start mastering this? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Emotional health: what helps you feel well emotionally? What matters to you in this world? Write it down. Is it time with friends? Is it time alone? Things that help me in this category are meditation, weekly goal setting... a therapist... etc. What works for you?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Physical health: I feel most healthy when I work out 4 days a week minimum and stay away from high sugar foods. What about you?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Start now friends. It will pay off later! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Be Hopeful as a New Vet and Remember to Prioritize You!

We all start our first job 𝕙𝕠𝕡𝕖𝕗𝕦𝕝. As the first few months in practice play out, you will have MANY up's and down's. It is just part of the learning curve. Like they say, "Nothing worth having comes easy." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Your mental health will seem like it is challenged on a daily basis. Seeing appointments every 30 minutes to having to break difficult news over the phone to an upset client to a difficult interaction will all be things that happen on a daily basis. These situations can break your 𝕙𝕠𝕡𝕖𝕗𝕦𝕝 spirit..but fear not! It WILL get easier. We promise. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝕚𝕞𝕡𝕠𝕣𝕥𝕒𝕟𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕥𝕠 𝕕𝕠 𝕚𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕝𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕟 𝕥𝕠 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣𝕤𝕖𝕝𝕗. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your patients. This is accomplished through simple things like saying no, setting boundaries, exercising, eating healthy, and finding passions outside of work. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

It can be as simple as saying no to a friend who wants to have dinner after work if you are tired. That extra hour of sleep may make all the difference in your energy the next day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ YOU are important. Prioritize YOU, as you cannot burn the candle at both ends. Break those bad habits, and find your routine early so that it becomes a healthy habit. 💗

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Some Self Reflection is almost always helpful….

Dr. Gray is a Leo and it fits her to a T! 🦁⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Strengths: cheerful, passionate, generous -- CHECK

Weaknesses: stubborn, inflexible, self-centered -- CHECK! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And...there is the whole part about always wanting to be treated like a queen.. 😅⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This can serve her well but also put her at odds with some people. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Just like our dog/cat patients, humans will not always vibe perfectly with each other. One of the most common client complaints we see as a vet is due to communication issues. You will not get along with everyone, so this is important to realize early on when it impacts your client interactions. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ One thing that has helped work through this is self awareness and being open to constructive feedback. It is cheesy to some, but reading about your personality through things like Myers-Briggs or an Enneagram test can be very helpful. It helps you to see yourself through another's eyes so that you can play to your strengths.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

She shares that by reading about herself and listening to feedback that she learned that she often talks too much and struggles to listen. Working on active listening all the time and allowing clients to talk and ask all of their questions has been important. By being open to this feedback, it helped improve her communication style.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Not only is it fun to do these tests, but it also helps you to learn a little more about yourself. It makes you a good team player, improves your happiness, and helps to bring out your true potential!

Your first 3 months will be the most challenging…. So check out our 3 Tips to help overcome those tough days.

There are some days when this smile here does not come easy... Your first few months out in practice will be some of your hardest days as a young veterinarian because it is a steep learning curve to go from school to the real world!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Dr. Gray recounts telling interns to expect the first three months to be the most challenging. These early days are spent working on time management, while getting familiar with the hospital, staff, and becoming comfortable with your medicine. This means many 40 hour work weeks become 50-60 as you figure out your rhythm with client communication and paperwork.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ After three months, you either start to get your groove or feel even further in a hole. THIS IS NORMAL. It can be a weekly roller coaster for the first year. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, how do you keep waking up each day wanting to go to work when you feel beat down? Here are TIPS WE STILL USE on our tough days in vet medicine... ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #1 - Focus on the cases that went well. Every time you get a correct diagnosis or make a patient feel better, pat yourself on the back. Better yet, keep a tally! For every case with a poor outcome, there are ten great outcomes. Do not let the negatives drag you down...medicine is not perfect!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #2 - When you have an angry or upset client, remember that they are just reacting AT you and that it is NOT personal. With COVID, client frustration is at an all time high. This behavior is not ok though and should not be tolerated if becoming abusive. Find ways to work with that client, but if they are intolerable, management should have your back! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #3 - DO NOT BRING WORK HOME WITH YOU. Here's how I finally fixed this. I spend my drive blasting music and thinking about my day. I will learn from what I can and blow off the rest. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Our advice is to find what works for you, and leave work at work. Decompression is KEY!

Keep Perspective, New Vet.

When you are overwhelmed, remember to breathe. Take a deep breath.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Dr. Tarantino discusses how it is easy in the busy early days of your career to forget where you are and what you have actually achieved as a new vet. We know by the sheer fact of you being a new practicing veterinarian that you are extraordinary. Caring. Bright. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

We don’t want the stress of our job to cause you to forget that because trust us when we say it is easy. We know how easy it is right now to feel overwhelmed and to allow doubts and moments to cloud your mind. Which is why if you feel overwhelmed, take a step back. Take a deep breath. And regain your perspective. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Though you are going to hit some bumps, those bumps are smoothing you out and making you better. ALL of us have gone through them! So, you are not alone. When you are having a bumpy day, do the following:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1- Remind yourself bumps are just opportunities to get better and grow.. ⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2- No matter the current bump, you deserve to be here. Because if you don't deserve to be here, then NONE of us that have come before you deserve to be here because we have all done the same things you have done and more.

3- Right now, as in today - even a bumpy today, you are showing up and living each of our dreams of helping animals. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that's pretty amazing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Lastly, just know - there will be a time where things get easier, WE PROMISE YOU! Keep working at it. And until it does, keep practicing your dream of helping pets. Remember this one thing to get you through: 🅿🅴🆁🆂🅿🅴🅲🆃🅸🆅🅴.

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