Guest Post by Dr. Jessi Farris from Heartland Veterinary Partners
During tough times, it is often said to “bloom where you’re planted,” but with the current landscape of veterinary medicine, I say uproot and find your perfect terrain. Each veterinarian is as unique as the patients we treat, so it would make sense that each one of us would flourish in an environment unique to us. If you feel stifled, stagnant, disenfranchised, or longing for a ‘greener pasture’, I promise you that better fit is out there! There has never been a better time to explore job opportunities as a veterinarian, so if you find yourself not loving your daily environment or what the road ahead looks like, I would advise you to reflect on what elements you need to surround yourself to set yourself up for success!
Elements to Consider:
· Mentorship: This one isn’t just for new graduates. The awesome part of vet med is we get to be lifelong learners as new developments and research comes out daily (anyone else remember when Apoquel was the ‘hot new thing’?) While mentorship is incredibly important the first year out of school, it will continue to be a cornerstone of your development as a veterinary professional. If you feel like you’ve learned all there is to learn from your mentor at your practice, it may be time to consider a new opportunity to widen your perspective and skillset to continue growing to be the vet professional you want to be. On the other hand, sometimes you may have a mentor that you know is great, but they may not be the best mentor for you. We all learn differently, so its important to find a mentor who’s teaching style aligns with your learning style.
· Growth Opportunities: You’ve made it through your first year out and you can survive a day without wondering why they let you “be the adult in the room”, but now what? After 2-3 years, it is very common to think about what direction your next step will be. That next step could be practice ownership or perhaps an intermediate step like a managing DVM role where you have more responsibility but with a team to support you in that transition. If you don’t see an “open seat” at your practice for you to grow into, it may be time to put some feelers out there to see what that next step could be and what skills you need to develop in the interim to get there.
· Flexibility: Nobody casually becomes a veterinarian, it essentially takes a decade to do all the things to get through all the schooling, all the credentials, and all those ‘struggle bus’ moments as a new DVM. However, this does not mean that our career should be the all-consuming force of our lives. Our job as a veterinarian should enable us to create a life we enjoy outside of practice. If your current role feels like a ball and chain (even if it’s a ball and chain you like very much!), I would encourage you to communicate what your ideal flexibility looks like to your current employer and see what improvements can be made. With many employers looking to hire, they would happily hire someone at 30-35 hours because it’s much better than the alternative without you! Boundaries are not only OK but are required for us to prioritize wellness to be able to show up as the best vet professionals we can be!
· Clientele: Our clientele is a continuance of the community we serve and thus will to a certain degree dictate your day-to-day style of medicine and compliance. There is certainly a lot to be said for ‘training your clients’ to manage expectations so when you inevitably tell them it is time to schedule that dental we’ve been talking about for the last 18 months, it isn’t a total blindside, but there are certain economic realities that are beyond our control. Some veterinarians enjoy the challenge of an ADR case with $300 for work-up and treatment where some veterinarians would find this incredibly frustrating and draining. Some veterinarians prefer faster paced, quick appointments, and others like taking more time to build deep relationships with clients and discuss diagnostic and treatment options in depth. Neither option is right or wrong, but these options would probably feel right or wrong to each veterinarian, and that is OK. The beauty of vet med is that clients have options on what kind of experience they want, and then we have the beauty of having the option of what kind of experience we want to provide!
These are just a few elements to consider, but all of them can have a radical impact on our overall happiness as a veterinary professional to contribute to our ‘ideal terrain.’ If you feel like you’re stuck where you are, I promise you there are options out there for you that will reinvigorate your passion for this field and empower you to live the life you envision for yourself when you began down your path to join the best profession in the world as a DVM!
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Author: Dr. Jessi Farris
Dr. Jessi Farris has experience merging her passion for veterinary medicine with her interest in business management to connect veterinary professionals with exciting and fulfilling career opportunities. Following graduation from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Farris practiced as a small animal general practitioner with clinical interests in nutrition, cardiology, and ophthalmology while concurrently completing her MBA at Saint Louis University. She is a previous National President of the Veterinary Business Management Association and serves on the executive board for multiple veterinary medical associations. She is currently the Vice President of Recruiting with Heartland Veterinary Partners.