It is time to go to work. You have been in school for about eight years and within a few months, you will receive your veterinary
degree and become a licensed veterinarian. Naturally you are eager to find a job. After all, you have devoted most of your
time and effort toward reaching this goal. Just as you have spent a lot of time studying the various subjects in the veterinary
curriculum, you will be well served by spending additional time in seeking your first job as a veterinarian.
Each of you will have invested well more than $250,000 in your education, so it is important that you find a position that
you can begin to recover your investment. Equally important, it is critical that you find a position that will be rewarding
and satisfying to you. There are many factors that you should consider when seeking your first veterinary position. These
factors include quality of practice, growth opportunities, type of practice, geographic location and community benefits and
services. These factors are reviewed in this article.
What quality of medicine do you want to practice?
A desire that frequently is expressed on the resumes of new graduates is that they want to work in a clinic or hospital where
high-quality medicine and surgery is practiced. This is a laudable objective. It might be the most important factor in selecting
your first job.
"I recommend that you carefully pick your first jobs based on your perception of the quality of medicine practiced there and
the positive tone of the owners, associate veterinarians and other staff members," notes Dr. Ross Clark, author and veterinary
entrepreneur. "Your level of financial success, as well as the quality of medicine you practice, is very likely to be a mirror
image of the first practice."
Adding to Clark's advice, there is empirical evidence that one of the major reasons that new graduates leave their first position
is due to dissatisfaction with the quality of medicine practiced. If you truly want to practice quality veterinary medicine,
then it behooves you to investigate each of your job opportunities carefully. Unless you are unusually astute, it is unlikely
you can do this in a short interview.
Determining quality medicine. How can you determine the quality of medicine practiced? Although quality can mean different things to different people,
there are a number of factors you can explore. You might be able to learn a lot from a telephone call, and it is essential
that you spend time in the practice. Interact with the doctors and the staff. Listen carefully and ask pertinent questions.
It is also important to use your senses. Is the facility clean and well organized? Is it free of odors? Does the practice
have adequate equipment to provide quality services? Does the practice have the appropriate doctor/staff ratio? What is the
quality of the radiographs? How thorough are the doctors in their diagnostic work-ups? What quality-control procedures are
practiced? What is the attitude of the doctors toward one another, staff, clients and patients? Is there evidence of in-house
continuing education? Does the practice use modern sterile technique for surgeries? Are modern drugs and treatments in use?
Is perioperative analgesia used? Are modern business practices applied and evidenced? Ask to see the employee handbook. Is
there a practice policy and procedures manual? Can you determine the mission of the practice? Is it stated anywhere in the
practice? How does the practice handle legal and regulatory matters? Does the practice's philosophy on cosmetic surgery and
genetic defects match with yours?
From this list of questions, it should be clear that there are many factors that can affect the quality of medicine practiced.
If you want to practice high-quality medicine and surgery, you can improve your chances of job satisfaction and success by
obtaining appropriate answers to the questions presented above.
What are the opportunities for growth?
Personal growth. The opportunity to grow in your first job might be as important as the quality of medicine practiced. Obviously, if one doesn't
grow, then stagnation and obsolescence result. This is often experienced as frustration, dissatisfaction and a lack of self-fulfillment.
To avoid disappointment, it is important to ask yourself the following personal questions when seeking your first job. Am
I looking for something to do? Or, am I seeking to do something? You might believe that because of financial obligations that
you must look for something to do.