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Confessions of A New Graduate Vet: Three Months Into My First Vet Job

It is crazy how quickly time has gone since starting my first job…three months in…that’s a quarter of a year!! I’m still really enjoying practice life and have already formed some strong bonds with a few clients. It was so nice to hear a client asking specifically to see me the other day – me, the new grad!

I was warned about it being a steep learning curve and I can confirm that it most certainly is. I think it’s important to manage your expectations and to not be too hard on yourself! I definitely perform better when I stay calm and keep a clear head. In most cases, you have time to look things up if you don’t immediately know the answer. I have had to accept that I’m often not going to come up with a diagnosis in the first consult.

I’m finding that I am actually picking stuff up without realising. In my first week I was really worried about examining ears because I hadn’t done it much as a student. I know it’s something very basic but I did honestly dread those consults. I have now seen so many ear cases that I’m confident with how to approach them and have finally got to grips with the many different ear drops in the pharmacy! I still don’t particularly enjoy rabbit consults yet…. I was traumatised as a student when our lecturer showed us how easy it was to break a rabbit’s spine during the dissection class!

So far, I have only cried once at work and that was because I had to break some very sad news to an owner who wasn’t expecting it and to hear them cry down the phone was heart-breaking. I’ve done a fair few euthanasias now but they had always been when the owner knew it was time. This owner unfortunately didn’t see this one coming so it was even harder.

I recently attended some CPD training on ‘how to cope in practice’ and it has been really useful in my every day working life. During the training, it was great to hear other vets’ stressful experiences and how they dealt with them. One thing I learnt was about different personality types and how to identify them within the team and how best to communicate with them. It was very interesting and has made me reflect on how I am at work and recognising when I’m starting to feel stressed and doing something to stop that. The biggest message of the day was that stress is never a positive thing. Some people say that stress motivates them but what we should really be using to motivate us is pressure – never stress! Little things like taking 5 minutes to eat something during a manic day will actually make you more productive for the rest of the afternoon…even if you are 5 minutes late initially, than starving yourself and trying to power through the afternoon. Look after yourself so that you can look after your patients.

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