As hard as veterinary school is, life after graduation can be harder if you don't know the new rules. They have changed from
the ones you had in school — maintain a certain grade-point average, attend class, do your assignments and graduate.
Life will never be that simple again.
Once you graduate, your whole world changes. You go from a fiercely competitive environment to one where teamwork and collaboration
are what count. You go from being a lowly student to the head of the pack.
Once you graduate, life becomes more complex and others' expectations of you change. Along with that white coat comes a new
level of professional responsibility. There's so much more to think about that it can be a bit overwhelming to try to figure
it all out.
The following 10 rules of professional behavior (and a bonus tip at the end) are offered to help you better understand your
new role, gain respect and build healthy relationships as the new doctor on the team:
1. Do not gossip or make off-handed snide remarks. Friendly small talk is fine. Gossip and sneers, on the other hand, are hurtful
and damaging to others. Such behavior is immature and unprofessional.
2. Dress professionally, including your shoes. Dirty, beat-up athletic shoes are not professional. If in doubt, ask what the
doctors usually wear and dress as they do.
3. Be punctual, ready to work and stay until the work is done, without complaining.
4. Do your share and offer to help others when you are not busy. You get back what you give.
5. Say "please" and "thank you." That's simply good manners, and it will keep you from sounding as if you are barking orders
or appearing condescending or unappreciative.
6. Respect others. Show consideration. That includes active, attentive listening.
7. Stay composed, especially when you are feeling stressed or upset, and maintain a positive attitude. Other team members will
notice and take their cue from you.
8. If you make a mistake, admit it and say you are sorry. Don't obsess over it. The only real mistakes you can make are to keep
repeating the same ones without learning from them.
9. Do not overly fraternize with support staff, no matter how much you like them. It is hard to hold onto the respect of those
you work with when they've seen you chugging shots at the bar or you've told them all the sordid details of your last relationship.
10. Aspire to excellence in patient care as well as in your relationships with clients and co-workers. Being a successful veterinarian
is a two-part job: It involves working well with animals and people.