4 Steps to Avoid Bouncing Out of the Veterinary Profession

Are you in Danger of Bouncing out of Veterinary Medicine?

If you are looking for your first job, or just looking to move on to a new job, there are 4 essential steps to consider. ‘The Bouncing Ball Effect’ refers to the high rate of attrition in the veterinary profession. In this article we consider how many new veterinarians fall victim to it after a bad first experience and how you can avoid doing the same. Follow these steps to ensure you don’t become a ‘Bouncing Ball’:

Honesty

Job adverts are often bad at setting up true expectations. For the most part, they are surprisingly vague and/or showcase values that are not actually enacted in the everyday life of the practice. 

However, honesty works both ways. How often have you -everso slightly- embellished your CV? If you do this, your prospective employer may assume you don’t need much support, you’ve already got it sussed, right? Before writing your resume, cover letter or attending the interview, sit down and think honestly about the support you need in this job. 

Remember, this is about needs, not wants. If you need a mentor, which all new veterinarians should have(!), then make this clear in the interview. What is more, ask them for previous examples of successful mentorship to work out if this aligns with your expectations.

Interviewing is a Two-way Street

Interviewing works both ways, and this fact is especially important if the job description is not very informative. Create a list of questions ready for the interview. A good starting point is finding out what the values of the practice are. These will be a great barometer of how you will fit in with the practice, whether they align with your values and if you are like minded.

Situational questions produce insightful answers too. For instance, you might want to ask them about a time where they have encountered a problem. What happened? Was it ever resolved? If so, how? Not only does this show initiative on your part, but gets right to the heart of the matter as you gain a better idea of the general functioning of the team.

Linked to this, why not invest a couple of hours after your interview by spending it with the team? Study (in a non-creepy way) how they communicate with each other. Can you see yourself integrating? Think about the levels of support they show each other. Is this the kind of support you expect?

Finally, do your research! Find out as much as possible from the practice’s website and social media (without becoming the cyber-stalker of a practice owner’s nightmares). You may uncover much about how their values are put into practice (if they are at all), how members of the team are recognised, and the general workplace culture. 

Set Specific Goals

Remember that just because you are joining a practice, this does not mean your individual goals should disintegrate. It is your job to take ownership of your career, not the practice’s. Keep a constantly evolving document of goals for yourself. For example, perhaps you would like to achieve an advanced training certification within the next three years, or maybe you would like to complete a certain amount of non-clinical training.

Set goals, and you will constantly seek opportunities for growth. They should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Audacious if you’re feeling brave), Relevant, and Time bound (SMART). This helps you as an individual and the practice itself, it really is a win-win! Make the practice aware of your goals and they will be able to facilitate them. 

Own your Future

Linked to this is making yourself accountable for your own progression and future. Those bouncing from job to job are relinquishing responsibility for their happiness with each bounce.

Often, perceived issues with the practice are as much to do with issues from within. Therefore, before changing jobs, study in detail the reasons for this change. Is it really because of the practice? Or, is it because of your reaction to and failure to address effectively and constructively something that happened in the practice? Being aware of and understanding your behaviour in practice is the first step towards building resilience in a job role, and to holding yourself accountable for your successes (and challenges).

With all of these steps, no longer will you be subject to the Bouncing Ball Effect. In time, our hope is that new veterinarians’ expectations and the level of support practices offer can reach a mutually beneficial equilibrium. But until then, be sure to integrate these steps into your job search. And, even if you do encounter problems in your new job, these will be mere catches, not bounces.

If you are a new veterinarian and found this information useful, you may be interested in the VetX Career Roadmap, taking you through the struggles you may encounter and how to overcome these using a framework to success.

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