During veterinary school, you will learn a lot of information, but there are many things that school does not teach you. Many things that you will never know until you actually are in the real world practicing.  

Want to be fully prepared for the veterinary industry? Here are 10 tips that will not be on the final exam.

Treat your staff well

This is so important.  The receptionists control your appointments. Who you see, how many you see and what types of cases you see.  If you don’t ever want to see Mr. Smith again but treat your receptionists like garbage, expect to see Mr. Smith every time he calls. They also have the power to schedule the vomiting and diarrhea case 15 minutes prior to closing ensuring you won’t get out on time. 

Treating your nurses well is equally important.  They control your safety and your success. If you have well trained, well-qualified nurses that like you, you can see more and be less stressed. If the nurses don’t like you expect less stuff getting done by them and more work you are needing to complete.

Keep a clean pair of scrubs at work (also underwear)

Many new graduates come to work freshly dressed, but the moment the first appointment walks in and shoots their anal glands on you, well that is a smell you will not get out by using a towel and soap.  A full change of clothes is needed to ensure you don’t trail the smell of rotting fish around the hospital.

Always have the cage ready

This seems like a no brainer, but when administering the enema to the constipated cat, well have the cage ready, open with the litter box. You don’t want all the poop getting all over you with the enema.

You are not a book

It is ok to admit you do not know. It is ok to say you have to do some research and it is ok to say, you have to call a specialist. We are practicing, we are not textbooks.

Not every client will like you

You can’t have every single client like you and that is ok. Most of the time if the client doesn’t want to see you, you don’t want to see them. Clients can be very difficult and seeing the happy clients that like you will make your job so much better.

Close your mouth when expressing anal glands

Expressing anal glands can be very unpredictable.  To say that I didn’t get anal gland juice close to my mouth would be a lie. The closest I have ever gotten was on my lip and my amazing technician wiped it off since my hands were tied up.

Also, make sure no one is standing in the direct line of fire. I have seen anal gland juice squirt across the room.

Empty your pockets before you go home

You will most likely find multiple toenails, sharpies, and pens.

When the client says they will not bite you, bring the muzzle

There are great clients that will state that their own dog will bite. The issue comes when there is that client who swears their dog would never bite you, that is the one you have to be cautious with.

Don’t just take a history, read in between the lies

I say it like this because most of the time people will not be 100% honest with you. They will tell you they don’t feed human food but 15 minutes into the conversation it will slip in that they ate a piece of burger last night. How do you notice when clients are fibbing and when they are being truthful? Ask open-ended questions and reword the question to get the same answer but in a different context. This comes with time, experience and having clients lie to you first.

Have an outlet

Veterinary medicine can be stressful. Obviously, you already know it isn’t all puppies and kittens all the time but it is mentally and physically exhausting with long days. Have something you love to do to get your frustration and mind onto something else.

Have the ability to say NO!

When you are off of work, you are off. The text messages, the emails, and the social media messages will start coming in most likely when you start school. Have the ability to say you are not working right now. Everyone wants free advice. You worked hard to get to where you are and eventually this will wear you down.

One last tip for good luck….

Sedation is your friend. Don’t be afraid to pull out the drugs if the animal is making you wrestle them. Everyone will be less stressed and the job will get done faster.



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