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New Graduate Veterinarian Survival Guide

First of all I would like to give you a huge congratulations on crushing veterinary school and achieving your dreams of becoming a veterinarian! This is a huge accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself. This transition from student to doctor is very exciting and can also be overwhelming. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and support you, be kind, and use your techs and you will do great!

I asked people on Instagram and TikTok - "What is your favorite thing that your veterinarian does?" Here are the four main themes from their responses (click the drop downs to see what people actually said)

Be adaptable and show you care- people love when you are willing to get on the floor for the exam and slow down to get to know their pet.

  • "Learns about dog behavior and takes a few minutes to meet and greet the dog before exam. Results in a calmer visit!"

  • "Let us be with our animals throughout the entire visit in the clinic. It helps our pets to feel safer with our presence."

  • "I love that you have always respected my pets and took your time making them feel comfortable. You were willing to stop when you knew they didn’t feel great. Definitely my favorite thing when vet professionals take pet mental health just as serious as their physical health!!"

  • "Thea’s favorite thing is a variety of treat options bc she gets antsy and gets picky about treats at the vet lol. Her mom’s favorite thing is the practice’s quick responses and ease of communicating! This helps when both dog and mom are anxious 😂 our fear-free vet is phenomenal and we love the cozy rooms that make our fur baby feel like she’s at home 💕"

  • "Our vet greets our dogs by dropping to their level and giving tons of affection. It has also struck me as genuinely sweet with no real clinical purpose"

  • "My dog is a floor doggo and not a table doggo. The vet always gets on the floor with her, so maybe asking owners what the dog prefers!"

  • "always ask whats the best way to aproach a dog and give the animal time to calm down"

  • "Spends time with dog before starting exam and/or procedure"

  • "Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog - so it feels fun when the vet compliments them/acknowledges them as the goodest girl"

  • "They love them like their own, they are always excited when we come there. Our vet is always loving towards our dogs and cat!"

  • "My dog is constantly wiggling from excitement when she does the assessment so she usually just waits a bit until he chills out"

  • "I appreciate that my vet was knowledgeable about cat diabetes, didn't discourage at home blood glucose testing and didn't push the prescription food!"

  • "dont be afraid to do exams/vaccines outside. some dogs get really nervous inside the clinic"

  • "I have a rescue dog. just listen to his body language please."

  • "They always sat on the floor with my small dog for the entire exam so she didn’t have to stand on a table"

  • "I love love love if a vet is patient and inclusive enough to be willing to practice compassionate care! Also if they don’t judge reactive dogs ❤️"

  • "When our dog was at end of life (multiple organ failure), they came out to our suv to administer injections so she wouldn’t be terrified inside."

  • "Our vet squatted down and just held out his hand after my dogs neuter. He was terrified and the vet took it so slow. He did the exam on the floor"

  • "He knows I do rescue - so he will ask what medicines I already have at home and use those if they are equivalent to what he was thinking to use."

  • "My vet greets my dogs in the high pitched puppy voice and kneels down to pet them, makes me feel like she loves them like I do 🥰"

  • "my vet uses the phrase: what other questions do you have for me? and I love that! Also dont be afraid to get down to their level, aka the floor!"

  • "Let’s my anxiety ridden rescue dog have her “therapy” dog go with her during exams and procedures. She won’t go anywhere without him anyway. lol."

  • "For new clients, they write hand written notes after they saw you and mail them to your house. 🥰 Makes it feel more personal"

  • "she doesn't force my dog to get up on the exam table if it can be avoided. we do most things from sitting on the ground since she is already there"

  • "My vet cried with me when we came in for our euthanasia appt. It meant a lot that she cared that much and I’ll always be grateful 4 that entire office"

  • "I like when my veterinarian is more concerned with getting to know my dog than they are getting to know me."

  • "My vet will get on the floor with my dog and make him feel as comfortable as possible! This has made a huge difference in my dogs behavior for exam"

  • "Getting on the dog’s level or taking time to get the client to trust you."

  • "my vet got down on the floor with my dogs, which I really enjoyed. he actually let my dog practically tackle him/lick him to death but 🤣🤣"

  • "Honestly, there are so many things, but my absolute favorite thing is when she comes to my house. I know that's not possible for most vets, but I have 5 dogs (and last time she came I had an extremely nervous 6th foster dog). It allows me to set my dogs up for success. They don't get rev'd up in the car. We do pre-visit meds (as needed), have treat and mat stations throughout the area we'll be working in, and lickimats in the freezer. She even went out to the yard and threw a Frisbee for a minute to bond with one of my dogs that was having a hard time."

Be honest - tell owners when you aren't sure and be willing to gather more information.

Treat the client with respect and include them in their pet's care.

Respect and support staff members and students and be willing to learn from anyone and everyone

4 people standing in front of a tree. One wearing blue graduation gown, hood, and cap

When I first started practicing I was afraid of what clients would do or say when they found out I didn't know everything. After practicing for 2 years, I have never had anyone get angry when I say, "Let me look into that more and get back to you" or "Is it okay if I consult a colleague or the most recent research to make sure I'm giving you the correct information?" People really appreciate honesty in my experience and love that you are trying to provide their animal with the best care possible. So where do I go to find the additional information when I realized I didn't know how to treat a simple ear infection? Or what is the prognosis on that cancer? Or can I use those 5 medications together?

Here is a list of links that make my life a lot easier as a veterinarian:

  • VIN - Google for veterinarians. They have a drug formulary (and now an app to go with it), anesthetic recommendations for certain conditions, CE, access to specialists and so much more!

    • Veterinary Partner - client education materials written by veterinarians. This is a great resource for articles to send home with clients.

  • Plumbs - Drug formulary app/diagnostic and treatment help with Plumbs Pro. I recommend having the plumbs app, vin app or both to save yourself time finding drug dosages. Sometimes they have different information so I like checking both places when I'm using a drug I've never prescribed before!

  • Clinician's Brief - I recommend signing up for their emails and reading an article a day to stay up on all the new information. They also have great differential lists.

  • DVM 360 - Great for veterinary news, new information and disease specific information.

  • AAHA Guidelines - The American Animal Hospital Association has many guidelines available that help in diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions. They also have a diabetes discharge template that I have linked below.

  • VOHC - The Veterinary Oral Health Council looks at dental products and ensures they perform as their label claims. They have a list of approved products for dogs and cats.

  • ISCAID guidelines - Guidelines for the use of antibiotics - I use the urinary guidelines frequently!

  • IRIS guidelines - Diagnosis and treatment guidelines for chonic kidney disease and acute kidney injury.

  • Heartworm Society Guidelines - I like to print out the recommended treatment plan and date all of the important steps so the owners know the plan and can reference it.

  • VSSO - Information about specific cancer diagnostics, treatment, and prognosis.

  • Eclinpath - Very helpful for bloodwork interpretation.

  • Latinx Veterinary Medical Association - Client handouts in Spanish

  • CAPC - The companion animal parasite council has information on life cycle, diagnosis, and treatment of various parasites.

I hope some of this information is helpful to you. You will do great and the profession is lucky to have you. Please reach out if I can do anything to make this transition easier!

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