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Advice For New Grads


In the July and August issues, we asked readers to send in advice for new veterinary graduates just starting out. Here are some of the responses.

Items on this page express the opinions of the writers, not necessarily those of Veterinary Practice News. If you'd like to comment on something in the magazine or in the industry, send letters to Editor Marilyn Iturri at 3 Burroughs, Irvine, CA 92618, or miturri@bowtieinc.com.

Be Passionate About Your Work

You just spent four years learning about something you are passionate about. It is not over. Never stop learning; find a great mentor and become a great doctor.

Deb Torstrup-Nahay, DVM
Freeland, Pa.

Take It One Case At a Time

Not all open abscesses in cats require anesthesia or drains. Each case is determined by the owner, the compliance, and especially the cat.

Steve Benscheidt,
DVM Longmont, Colo.

Be Smart, Flexible, Nonjudgmental

There are two characteristics I look for in a new associate.

First is reasonable medical knowledge. Contrary to popular belief, the first requirement for success is to be a good doctor. I can teach most associates about "bedside manner" and practice management, but I cannot provide them with the education they should have received in school. Bring a higher level of knowledge to the practice.

Secondly, I look for flexibility. During the daily work schedule in most practices, things can change quickly. The ability to compliantly change directions from seeing outpatients to treating inpatients to getting a backlog of surgeries completed requires the ability to multi-task and change gears with a smile of one's face.One last tidbit:  Many new graduates have difficulty identifying the "big case" versus the routine one or, at least, determining the unique needs of each client. The ability to identify the level of care a client wants is a crucial step toward practice success.

That means not short changing clients because of their appearance, the pet's breed or the type of vehicle they drive. It also means realizing that not every client can afford optimal care. Admittedly, this is a bit of an art-form, but continues to be a challenge for many brand new doctors.

Martin Coffman, DVM
Jackson Ala.

New Grads Don't Know Everything

To the recent graduates:

1. There is no one smarter than a graduating senior, and no one dumber than a recent graduate.

2. You may be a whiz at understanding concepts written on paper, now you have to understand the concepts on/in a living patient. The sooner you can make that transition, the sooner you will become a competent doctor.

3. Ask, don't tell; the more you tell your potential employer what you will and will not do, the quicker that potential employer will tell you where to go.

4. Demonstrate a commitment to your chosen profession. A "hobby vet" has his place, but not in my clinic.

The class of 2007 graduated from veterinary school this spring and many former students are transitioning from tests and school books to job applications and interviews. What advice would you give a new graduate on how to land a first job or on what practicing medicine is like in the real world?

E-mail sperry@bowtieinc.com with "Vet Life Advice" in the subject line. We will report readers' responses in an upcoming issue.

5. If you are not happy where you are, move--this includes the clinic, the town, the neighborhood and the climate.

6. Even though you have been led to believe differently for the last four years, your academic instructors do not know everything, and some of what you were taught is wrong.

William D. Carpenter, DVM
Fairmont, W.Va.

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