Achieve your goals in veterinary practice

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Achieve your goals in veterinary practice

Tips for maintaining your vision, attaining success in the profession

Long ago, before you even made application to veterinary school, you had a vision; you had a vision of what you wanted to accomplish once you had that license of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in your hand.

Your envisioned purpose and goals gained from previous life experiences, love of animals and science and a capacious intellect.

Your original goals probably envisioned some sort of golden standard of veterinary medical practice. "Practice" means you apply the broad skill base assimilated over these many years of study to the animal health problems presented to you on a day-to-day basis. Beyond the problem solving, you also are looking for creative ways to communicate wellness and prevention to animal-owning clients. Your knowledge is massive, even before the point that you graduate from veterinary school. After graduation, your medical knowledge and skill base will be a major accomplishment and source of pride.

Staying focused

A first important tip: Be aware of how easy it is to lose sight of how much you do know.

With ever-expanding technology and vast amounts of information to pour into the gray matter, we tend to focus more on what we don't know than what we do.

Because of the emphasis on assimilation of a lot of detail about many areas of animal health during the course of veterinary school, we tend to doubt our own competencies. We become more and more cognizant of what we don't know. It is important to engage in positive self encouragement to maintain confidence about incredible abilities.

During the years, I have assimilated valuable ideas from many different resources and savants far more insightful than I am. The following wisdoms might be as helpful to you as they have been to me in maintaining a purpose and satisfaction in a veterinary medical career.

Keep your vision

If you have not actually written down what you originally hoped to accomplish by attending veterinary school, now is the time to do it.

For many students, the competition of gaining admittance and making it through an extensive four years of challenging study becomes the vision and goal in and of itself. If this has happened to you, be forewarned. You might become disenfranchised within a few months or years after graduation because it feels as if you no longer have a goal. You need to have a long-range plan for your career and define what you are trying to accomplish with your life's efforts.

Hone your people skills

You will graduate with an incredible empirical knowledge base. Now you have to have the common sense as to how to apply it.

Successful application comes through understanding how to work with other people, particularly through effective communication skills.

A good starting point is to know as much about yourself as you can. Understanding your work style, your belief system, how you communicate with others, and your instinctive way of looking at the work environment will all impact your success. The more you can know about yourself, the better. Most of us are very cognizant of our own strengths but not so knowledgeable about our weaknesses. Explore some of the learning systems, courses, and instruments that are available for understanding yourself. Myers Briggs testing, Carlson Learning System's DiSC, and Dimensions of Leadership instruments, are just a few ideas. Plenty of self-help books exist, too.

Develop your self image

Although somewhat intimidating, consider videotaping your presentation style in an exam room. Critique yourself for clothing, makeup, coiffure, diction, eye contact and ability to keep medical jargon and concepts simple. Ask others to critique your skills.

Try to envision someone you have respected as a clinician who has tremendous exam room skills. Try to figure out exactly what that person does that makes him or her so great in working with clients, colleagues and co-workers. Move beyond the medical expertise and look to the characteristics of the individual that makes him/her so effective at providing good animal care.