Category: Career Tips

  • Five Negotiation Tips to Start Using Now

    Five Negotiation Tips to Start Using Now

    If you squirm at the idea of negotiating, and would rather hide under a rock than talk about salary, you’re not alone!

    Posted: 20/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Five Negotiation Tips to Start Using

    If you squirm at the idea of negotiating, and would rather hide under a rock than talk about salary, you’re not alone! 

    Here are five things you can incorporate now into any upcoming negotiation.

    1. Do your homework

    Come in with data, and a clear idea of what is reasonable to ask for based on firm facts. Just because a colleague from school shares their salary number doesn’t mean it encompasses the total compensation they receive. Ensure you’ve run comparable numbers from vet organizations such as AVMA’s salary guide.

    1. Have a clear value statement

    Be sure of what you bring to the table, and practice sharing what you have to offer. For example, “In the past year, I’ve been able to bring in 10 new farm clients, equating to $X in billing.” or “I reduced the prep time for anesthesia with the checklists I implemented, leading to a savings of $x on each procedure.” Connect these achievements to your character, as examples of the traits you have.

    1. Take time to calm your nerves

    It’s important to come into a negotiation calmly, so take time to calm yourself before you start a meeting. Maybe that means listening to a guided meditation, taking a few deep breaths, or something else.

    1. Understand your emotions

    Often emotions come up during negotiations. It’s worth mapping out what you’ve felt during past negotiations, and why, particularly if you dislike negotiation. Even the act of writing out what you dislike and why can be powerful to diffuse those emotions.

    1. Map out the endpoint before you begin

    What’s the lowest offer you’ll take? What will happen if you don’t get the minimum offer? Make sure you have a plan for what you wish to achieve, as the worst thing you can do is make an empty threat in the heat of the moment or say something in anger you’ll later regret.

    If you’d like to “up” your game in negotiation and learn a step-by-step system to be calm, confident, and successful in any negotiation, check out our course, The Successful Negotiator. 

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  • Why You Should Consider Negotiating Even If...

    Why You Should Consider Negotiating Even If It Feels Intimidating

    Negotiating doesn’t come easy to anyone. Most people anticipate that negotiation equates to conflict. However, negotiation is really all about communicating your needs.

    Posted: 20/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Why you should Negotiate even if it feels intimidating

    Negotiating doesn’t come easy to anyone. Most people anticipate that negotiation equates to conflict. However, negotiation is really all about communicating your individual needs.

    Here are 5 top reasons to consider when you decide if you should negotiate in your workplace this year:

    1. Bosses aren’t mind readers

    It’s unfortunate, but no one can read our minds. I wish they could, but the exact way we want to be rewarded is unique. Yes, the currency of appreciation is often money, and more is always good. But, what about where you want to go within the workplace? What do you find most valuable as a reward? Money/time off/benefits? Your ideal rewards might also change over time! Not saying what you want leaves it to your employer to take their best guess.

    1. Concentrate on work that is valued

    Everyone puts in extra work that makes their contribution to the workplace special and unique. This is part of job shaping, where we make a job our own. Does your employer see the extra things you do? Do they value your efforts as much as you do? Making sure you share what you’ve been doing is part of showing your workplace value. Ensuring your boss also agrees with this value is the other side of the coin. This process is a huge part of negotiating because it lays the groundwork for asking for what you want in the workplace. On the flip side, if you’ve been working hard on extra projects staying late or burning out, and your boss doesn’t know or doesn’t value the info, you can make an informed decision to continue or stop doing that work.

    1. Show what motivates and inspires you

    Every time you explicitly share what work you’ve done that is “extra” or special, and ask for what you need and want, you give your employer a clearer picture of what motivates you. So even if you don’t get the exact things you want THIS time, a smart employer will file away the asks you make, and use that knowledge to ensure you’re being compensated in the future in the way you want, what causes you care about, and how to keep you long term.

    1. Show what you’d like to work on in the future

    One of the goals of building a satisfying career is to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. By sharing the areas you excel at, looking at the areas you enjoy the most, and asking to work on more of these, you’re increasing the chances that your employer will use your talents and interests to their maximum ability.

    1. Take charge of your career

    So many people comment that although they dislike conflict, and the idea of “selling themselves” seems uncomfortable at first pass, they inevitably feel like they’ve taken charge and empowered after asking for what they want. This feeling persists even if every ask is not met. The process of researching and getting clear on your value, and then asking for what you want puts you back in the driver’s seat in your job and career.

    If you’d like to learn how to be a better negotiator, sign up for The Successful Negotiator, a step by step method to improve your skills in negotiating as a professional. 

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  • Acing the Online Interview

    Acing the Online Interview

    Interviews are intense at the best of times. Is an online interview better or worse than in-person? How do you navigate it? Better yet, how do you ace it?

    Posted: 19/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Acing the Online Interview

    Interviews are intense at the best of times. Is an online interview better or worse than in-person? How do you navigate it? Better yet, how do you ace it?

    Here are some easy tips to be memorable in a good way to the interview panel:

    Show Up Early and Check Your Tech
    If something can go wrong, it will. Show up early and double-check everything. Join the link early and check your audio. Sometimes having headphones is helpful, or keeping them handy in case an interview panelist is very quiet or hard to understand.

    Use the Post-It Method
    The bonus of interviewing virtually is that you can bring your notes.. As long as it isn’t obvious. Use Post-It Notes mounted around your screen with examples of common questions. (e.g., conflict example→ clinic meeting that went south). You can also pin up key points about yourself and your values. Even a prompt to remind yourself: “Breathe, slow down. Be clear.”

    Three Paragraph Essay
    Remember that it’s challenging to be the interviewer. Before answering, think about gathering your thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with pausing for air and thought. Come up with your answer in a similar way to a three-paragraph essay (like high school English class). You want to provide an intro with a specific example, then go into explaining the situation or your experience, and sum it up with what happened or the result, concluding the question.

    Be a Bit “Extra” with Your Body Language
    Remember that the interviewers have less opportunity to gather data from you about how you interact with others. Being clear with your body language helps to build rapport. Making a point of smiling throughout as you’re giving answers, maintaining eye contact, keeping your shoulders down and back, and taking time to breathe and think are all important, but making an extra effort to demonstrate these non-verbal cues can make a huge difference.

    Treat Your Interview Like a Movie Set
    To position yourself as an ideal candidate, you’ll need to reduce distractions. This means of course shutting your pets and kids in a different room of the house, and finding a quiet place with high-quality internet to join the meeting. It also means ensuring a blank background or uncluttered background. Consider placing a lamp or light behind your computer screen for better lighting of your face and facial expressions; remember it is harder on Zoom to read facial expressions. Elevate your laptop or camera so your camera is at eye level to avoid the dreaded “nostril” view.

    Bring a Note Pad
    Use your notepad to write down keywords from the questions and notify the interviewer that you’re taking notes. “I just want to flag for you that I’m going to take notes so if I look away it’s so I can make sure I get all the key points down and can answer effectively.”

    Now, take a deep breath, be your fantastic self and go ace that interview!

    If you need some help with your prep, check out our Interview Minie Course or our 1:1 Interview Prep coaching sessions below, we are here to help. 

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  • Preparing For A Job Interview

    Preparing For A Job Interview

    If you’re preparing for a job interview, you might feel nervous and worried, or a bit rusty, depending on your last interview. Here are a few tips to help calm your nerves:

    Posted: 19/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Preparing for a Job Interview

    If you’re preparing for a job interview, you might feel nervous and worried, or a bit rusty, depending on your last interview. Here are a few tips to help calm your nerves:

    • Write down your concerns

    Writing down your top worries or fears about what could go wrong is an effective tool for managing interview anxiety, and an effective way to prepare the right data/tools. Quickly jot down the worst-case scenarios or your worst fears. Now, what can you do to prevent them from coming true? Some things can’t be controlled such as other people’s reactions or the outcome, but many can be mitigated or risks lessened. For example, if you’re worried your internet may fail for an online interview, ask a friend with more solid internet if you can interview at their house. 

    • Ensure you have support

    Find a friend, colleague, or mentor who can help run through possible questions and answers with you. Failing that, videoing yourself is a great idea! If you want interview coaching, get in touch and we can help one-on-one.

    • Find a calming technique

    How have you been able to calm your nerves in other scenarios? Could those work in this situation? Are there micro-comforts you could use to relax you in the moment? Perhaps you find being in nature calming (like most people). Going for a walk 15 minutes before the interview could be beneficial. Maybe you always reviewed your notes in vet school in a certain way before a test- can you apply that here?

    • Body language and breathing

    Notice your breathing and body language as you prepare, and in the interview. Slowing your breathing, and sitting tall with your shoulders back can be incredibly helpful to remaining calm and keeping your voice cadence appropriate.

    • Prepare!

    This should be obvious, but preparing reduces your nerves because it reduces the risk that you’ll be asked something you don’t know. It’s important to prepare adequately for the type of interview you have at hand and have appropriate examples in your back pocket.

    If you’d like help with preparing for a big interview, check out our Interview Mini Course. Alternatively, if you want direct support, sign up for our 1:1 Interview prep coaching session. 

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  • What To Do If You Learn You’re...

    What To Do If You Learn You’re In a Salary Discrepancy

    Have you ever learned that a colleague is making more money than you for doing the same work, or with equal or less seniority/credentials?

    Posted: 19/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    What to do if you learn you’re in a salary discrepancy

    Have you ever learned that a colleague is making more money than you for doing the same work, or with equal or less seniority/credentials? 

    It’s an awful feeling. An article in the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association magazine shared some interesting statistics: In 2021,  new graduates around the province of Ontario reported higher salaries than their more experienced colleagues (Doherty, 2021). In an employee market, this might become more commonplace than in previous years.

    If you’re like most people, you may feel immediately deflated, angry, and like trust has been broken. Some people will feel as though they are not appreciated for their contributions, as money is often viewed as the currency of appreciation. When you find out that there’s a wage discrepancy between yourself and another equal or less qualified person in the workplace, here are some steps to take.

    1.Take a breath: Salary discrepancy can be incredibly emotional, especially as many of us don’t enjoy talking about money and have a lot of big feelings about it. Consider taking time to gather your thoughts, and talk to a colleague or professional for advice.

    2. Stay curious: Sometimes the information you receive isn’t exactly as it seems. Where did you receive your information from? Does this source have your best interests at heart and is it likely to be completely true? Flipping the script to be able to calmly ask questions like, “I recently learned Sarah is being compensated $x, and I know I am being compensated $y. I’d like to verify this is correct and also what the numbers include?” can be incredibly helpful in determining where the true discrepancy lies. Finding out more information also allows you to gather the information you need to make the case for why you are worthy of the same or more compensation. Imagine, “I can understand why Jill receives extra compensation for managing the staff payroll. Thank you for sharing. Given the additional duties I have also taken on that take up more time, I’d like to request $X.”

    3. Get your information prepared: Be sure to prepare a statement about the value you bring to the workplace. Get clear on what you do, where you excel, and how that aligns with the workplace values.

    4. Consider how you will represent yourself and your emotions: Although it can be extremely frustrating and hurtful to learn of a salary discrepancy, it is critical to ensure you can conduct yourself calmly and respectfully. This does not mean you should shove your feelings down and ignore them, only that you should consider how you let those feelings be known to work toward a productive outcome. For example, I might choose to say, “When I learned that Mike made $20,000 more than me, I have to say I felt angry and disappointed. I’d like to discuss this discrepancy further,” instead of using an angry tone of voice.

    5. Ask for transparency: How will this situation be rectified now? What systems will be put in place to avoid future scenarios like this? It may be worth it to consider discussing this in several meetings, and including some information gathering about finding fair metrics for evaluating performance to help guide discussions.

    If you’re looking to take on situations in your workplace with confidence, and a sense of calm, and also get what you need, consider taking our course, ‘The Successful Negotiator.  It’s custom-built for professionals who want to learn to authentically communicate their needs effectively.

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  • Can You Have Boundaries Without Negotiation?

    Can You Have Boundaries Without Negotiation?

    I loved learning about boundaries. For many years, I had very few, and it meant the things I cared about got run over a lot. I can’t really blame anyone else; how could they know I had a boundary if I never asked for it to be respected?

    Posted: 19/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Can you have boundaries without negotiation?

    I loved learning about boundaries. For many years, I had very few, and it meant the things I cared about got run over a lot. I can’t really blame anyone else; how could they know I had a boundary if I never asked for it to be respected?

    It wasn’t until I started to develop negotiation skills that I started to understand and be able to exercise boundaries with my work, home, family, and friends. Without the ability to ask for what you want and convince someone to respect it or give you what you want, boundaries are hope and a little more.

    Why we need to incorporate negotiation into boundaries

    This is one of the reasons I think we all need to get better at negotiation; to have better resilience, we need better skills to ask for the things we need. I also believe negotiation is a foundational skill for good communication. Many of us are better at advocating for animals than for ourselves and it shows! But I’m not here to pick on you; let’s use those amazing skills you’ve developed while advocating for animals to start advocating for yourself.

    Boundaries stop being a fantasy when we can ask for, and receive the leeway to put them into action. Negotiation supports effective boundaries by creating a space for two people to work out how the boundaries will look, be put into place, measured, and what success looks like. Skillful negotiation is doing this with empathy, a calm demeanour, and clarity.

    Furthermore, articulating clearly what you want and need will help keep you in a job longer, or give you a clear sign that it’s time to go. What’s worse than staying in a place that can’t meet your needs for way too long? I’d say not much in career satisfaction land. Even if you don’t get what you want the first time around, you’ll get some great information you can work with to make more informed decisions in the future.

    If you’re thinking “Well, that will never happen, I’m a terrible negotiator.” My friend, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. I know because I taught myself, and I have taught others. 

    Negotiation is a learned skill

    It’s true, negotiation is a learned skill. Very few people were born great at negotiation. And if you can learn about 8 million bacteria names while running on no sleep in veterinary or vet tech school, you can 100% learn how to negotiate more effectively.

    If you’re looking to improve your skills in negotiating, check out our new course, The Successful Negotiator.

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  • Making Better Decisions Despite Stress

    Making Better Decisions Despite Stress

    Here's an easy, actionable idea that will help you make better decisions for career growth or any part of your life: ensure you have spent time doing some kind of hobby or past-time that uses your brain in a way your work doesn't.

    Posted: 19/03/2024

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    4 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Making Better Decisions Despite Stress

    Here’s an easy, actionable idea that will help you make better decisions for career growth or any part of your life: ensure you have spent time doing some kind of hobby or past-time that uses your brain in a way your work doesn’t.

    Before you sigh and add that to your “I should do that” list, take a second and hear me out: it’s easier than you think to benefit from this activity, and the benefits to your decision-making are profound.

    Making clear decisions about your career, life, and the things you want to explore requires clarity and brain space. This means *not* having steam coming out of one side of your brain after overworking it, and it means *not* feeling like Yosemite Sam. Your amygdala has to be a little bit chilled out.

    Interestingly, research showed that even 10 minutes of leisure activity that engages your brain achieves both of these effects. Engaging a different part of your brain also really helps increase your ability to have clarity, create new ideas, and innovate.

    Research shows that “hobbies” or “leisure activities” don’t have to have a lot of parameters around them to see this benefit. Your activity doesn’t even have to be physical (although the benefits of physical activity can stack onto the other effects mentioned if you want extra credit). The activity doesn’t have to be expensive or something entirely new. The activity just has to be something you choose to do and has to interest you in a way you aren’t normally engaged.

    So, if you’re making a decision (job offer, career direction, new ideas for your clinic), make sure you have filled your prescription for a little hobby time within the past 24 hours.

    And if you need help with anything such as CV reviewing, career coaching or interview prep, check out our services by clicking on the button below. 

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  • Failure, Discomfort, and Change: What I Learned...

    Failure, Discomfort, and Change: What I Learned From a 4-year-old

    My daughter’s school has different views of failure, discomfort, and change/growth than I was taught at the same age. They celebrate change as growth, examine failures objectively, and view discomfort as a part of resilience.

    Posted: 18/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Failure, Discomfort, and Change: What I Learned From a 4-year-old

    My daughter’s school has different views of failure, discomfort, and change/growth than I was taught at the same age. They celebrate change as growth, examine failures objectively, and view discomfort as a part of resilience.

    I regularly hear, “How do you feel? What is your body telling you when it’s sad/frustrated/mad? How can you make it better? Who can you ask for help? What can you learn from them? How do you feel about your choice?” I’ve learned a lot from preschool, maybe you can too.

    Through watching my daughter, I’ve been reminded that change, pain, and suffering are important parts of the human experience. Frustration, pain, and discomfort are manifestations of our body, telling us to pay attention, and that things need to change. Change is the vehicle for growth and a new equilibrium. Failure is a major part of the pursuit of a better equilibrium.

    Have you ever balanced a set of scales? The first piece of weight you put on, knocking the scales out of inertia involves a wild swing- failure! Then a few more as you add to the scales. Gradually the sine waves decrease, as smaller and smaller increments are needed to adjust.

    Another interesting thing about living with a 4-year-old is that she lives in the open. There is very little hidden from view. As you grow, you not only stop announcing that you have an itchy bum cheek in the checkout line (true story, happened to a, uh, friend and their kid), but you also stop saying, “Ouch, I failed miserably, and I’m sad I didn’t get that new job.” Although hiding these chinks in the armor means we look great on the outside, it can be isolating for the person covering up, and for others who could benefit from hearing some shared experiences. Can we smash the idea that everyone has it all together? I’d challenge you to share one small sucky thing that happened along your journey to any success with someone who needs to hear it this year. You never know who could need it the most.

    Perhaps we can get a little bit brave, like 4-year-olds, listening to parts that aren’t great about where we’re at, examining those painful parts carefully for lessons and knowledge, and use change and failure as vehicles to carve a more desirable space for ourselves.

    Maybe we can embrace messiness and adversity for the gifts that they are: being flopped face down in the mud is what makes the hot shower afterwards feel so great. Most of all, I hope that you know that you’re not alone, no matter how crappy things might seem. Believing you are the only broken one, sad and alone and the only one to have felt this way: that’s the first thought to change today. We’re in this together, putting our pants on the same way; one leg at a time.

    Want to ace your next interview with expert support?  Check out our interview prep services with experienced veterinary professionals. 

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  • Ten Ways To Use Your Vet Degree...

    Ten Ways To Use Your Vet Degree Outside Of Clinical Practice​

    “So what else is there, besides clinical practice? Isn’t it all, like, boring desk jobs?” I’m glad you asked; you might be surprised! Here’s a starter list of some of the top ways DVMs are applying their degrees outside of clinical practice.

    Posted: 18/03/2024

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    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Ten ways to use your vet degree outside of clinical practice

    “So what else is there, besides clinical practice? Isn’t it all, like, boring desk jobs?” I’m glad you asked; you might be surprised!

    Here’s a starter list of some of the top ways vets are applying their degrees outside of clinical practice. However, the more people I interview, the more I realize there are so many options, a top 10 list doesn’t do it justice at all. With that, I better get back to editing interviews!

    1. Specialize

    This is, of course, the most understood and known about pathway. However, you might be surprised that there are other programs outside of the traditional residency/board certification that can set you apart from other candidates. Masters of Public Health, Masters of Health Administration, Policy and Advisory, among others.

    2. Teaching

    Many veterinary technician schools have DVMs on staff to teach. There are also online courses for laypeople that employ veterinarians as course instructors. There are also teaching gigs for high school, night school, community programs or colleges that take DVMs as instructors. Sessional instructors may be advertised at local universities or colleges. No specialization required.

    3. Agricultural Industry

    Industry can mean many many things these days. Agricultural organizations world wide are seeking veterinary expertise as a way to help inform their policy and leadership decisions, allow them to be more worldly, and provide in house expertise, particularly in animal welfare. Food companies also see the value of veterinary insight, as do packing companies, slaughter companies, marketing, and more. The pet food industry is no exception, and veterinarians have been involved for many years, some leading companies.

    4. Side hustles of various kinds

    The side hustle is really a catch all for a wide range of things that can bring joy to your current job, but may not be a full time occupation at the start. It’s a great way to dip your toe into something you feel passionate about, and it allows you the freedom to see if you want it as a full time job. You’ll find a surprising number of veterinarians engaged in side gigs, or side hustles, the hallmark of the millennial generation. These might range from teaching pet first aid, anatomical drawing, text book design, designing products and marketing them, web design, app design, invention, freelance writing and editing etc. The veterinary degree, being such a broad base of knowledge, really provides a gateway to do other things. Your side hustle might re-invigorate your daily work by working your brain in a different way, or it might become a full time gig. You never know until you try!

    5. Government/regulatory

    Veterinarians are increasingly being pulled into leadership roles for their expertise and knowledge on animal health, and their ability to work with other aspects of agriculture or health. Surveillance, analysis of data, research, defence strategies for the country: you name it, vets are there. Check your provincial or state government, or look federally. In the US, there are even loan repayment programs that can help out with debt retirement. There are many facets of regulatory medicine too, from sales barn regulation, horse racing regulatory roles, and meat inspection to name a few.

    6. Military

    This option may not be prevalent in Canada, but in the US, and other countries, veterinarians are employed in service in many areas. They offer great benefits, interesting challenges, and you are serving your country.

    7. Pharmaceutical and laboratory industry

    Veterinarians I know in this field lead satisfying lives through helping their colleagues understand the use of products, developing products, and advising technical staff, as well as leading teams. Getting products to market both from the developers side and the regulatory side is an important area as well. Laboratories also need veterinarians with practical field experience who can help translate knowledge and assist in test selection, sample submission etc.

    8. Public health

    Surprise, you’ll find veterinarians working on people: the less compliant, globally moving version of animal herds. While it may appear that human medicine is separate from veterinary medicine, more and more instance pop up where human disease and animal disease intersect. With increased focus on antimicrobial use and resistance, this trend can only grow.

    9. Mobile imaging or other re-orchestrations of clinical practice

    Are you a pro with your ultrasound? A whiz with dentistry? Certified in acupuncture and chiro? Is it something that other colleagues hate to do or don’t have the skillset currently to provide? There may be a need for your skillset in your area, allowing colleagues to keep services in house, instead of sending clients elsewhere. More flexibility of schedule, use of technical skills, and a variety of clinics, mean a totally different practice experience.

    10. Telemedicine

    Regulations have loosened up to allow for this new and emerging field to take place. In Ontario, Canada alone, two telemedicine companies have opened offering on-demand virtual consults to assess whether a pet needs to go to the vet, or answer basic questions. In the US, larger companies exist and are thriving. As an industry that has struggled for years with how to deal with the time patient questions take, without seeming mercenary, telemedicine is an interesting option.

    This is an initial list, but I am sure that a Top 20 is due soon. What would you add to this list?

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  • Don’t Sell Yourself Short: Top Ways Your...

    Don’t Sell Yourself Short: Top Ways Your Veterinary Skills Apply to Other Jobs

    “Well, I was just a small animal vet? Why would they hire me?” This may come as a surprise to you, but simply having worked in private practice and having a DVM provides you with a wealth of abilities- these are aptly named transferrable skills.

    Posted: 18/03/2024

    Read Time/Watch Time

    5 minutes

    Who should read this?

    Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.

    Author(s)

    Melanie Barham

    Region

    Global content

    Don’t sell yourself short:
    Top ways your veterinary skills apply to other job

    “Well, I was just a small animal vet? Why would they hire me?”

    This may come as a surprise to you, but simply having worked in private practice and having a qualification in the veterinary field provides you with a wealth of abilities- these are aptly named transferrable skills. Thinking of these skills in advance allows you to be perfectly poised to be in just the right place at just the right time.

    If you’re looking at job postings, think of the skills you acquired while in your other jobs throughout your career, volunteering, or other roles you might have filled in your community. What situations can you think of where you demonstrated the skills listed? Sometimes it’s a useful exercise to look at job postings and think of where your skills would fit, even if the job isn’t one you’d apply to.

    Here’s a light look at a few you might not have thought of.

    1.Complex problem solving: Those working in the veterinary industry are uniquely qualified to look at multi-faceted problems, and solve them. Generally used to working with teams, rarely in solitude, we are great at satisfying multiple needs at once with one clinical solution.

    2. Communications skills: If you’ve ever talked an intense dressage rider off a ledge about her horse’s lameness, or worked with a multi-generational farm family with different ideas on herd health strategies, or dealt with a very emotional euthanasia with multiple family members, you’ve got communication skills and experience with multiple stakeholders.

    3. Compassion, empathy: Clinical practitioners see people at their most vulnerable, at their very worst, and we help them and their pets through whatever ordeal is presented. We see them with their pyjamas on, their noses running, ugly crying, and we see pets at their most stressed out times; when they are sick. We can easily place ourselves in their headspace, and we can also express empathy.

    4. Small business world knowledge: Most of the world’s businesses are small businesses. Working in a veterinary clinic in private practice is almost always an excellent example of small business across many geographic areas and niches. If you got to know anything about the culture, the needs or the financial/logistic ideas of a vet clinic, you have small business knowledge. And here’s a secret: most large businesses started as small businesses, and many are small businesses nested in a bigger business.

    5. Relatability to other professionals: Dentists, lawyers, engineers, human doctors, veterinarians. We’re all professionals. We take oaths, pay licensing dues, write lengthy exams, and we struggle in similar ways.

    6. Ability to understand and meet the needs of a wide range of stakeholders: In private practice, if there’s one thing we know as veterinarians, it is that it takes all kinds of people to make up a client base. Every time you step out of the car or into the exam room, the person on the other side of the table or the barn door will require something different of you. Veterinarians are like chameleons, but way better! You understand what the client needs, how to talk to them, get to the bottom of their issue, and get a task accomplished to help their animal.

    7. Advanced knowledge of biological systems: Don’t underestimate the excellent knowledge base you received in veterinary college. Basically, 4 years of comparative biology + clinical skills wrapped up in 3 letters: vet. Every “ology” you took added to your knowledge. You didn’t sweat through your shirt in bell ringers for nothing! This knowledge base transfers to a wide variety of professions with ease. Your undergraduate work prior to veterinary college may also be applicable.

    8. One Health philosophy: The term One Health has become a big buzz word of late, and for good reason. Understanding the connection between human health, animal health, and environmental health is fundamental to veterinary medicine. While this might have been a revolution to our human med counterparts, veterinarians were doing one health before we had a term for it.

    9. Organizational leadership skills: When you are a veterinarian, even the lowliest intern in the largest clinic, you are a big-L leader in your team. You likely understand your impact in the workplace, how to carry yourself. If you know how to improve morale in your team, how to build trust with the mean team member, how to kindly hold the staff accountable, how to mentor gently, don’t be afraid to share these skills, particularly with examples (e.g., supervised externship students, performed staff reviews).

    10. Ability to handle high pressure situations: Can you triage? Can you organize your team to get everything accomplished when 3 emergencies bust through the door? Can you work under pressure and keep creatures alive, looking competent with a poker face that would put Vegas gamblers to shame?

    Although this article is pretty light in nature, it seems clear (since all of our interviewees have mentioned it), that anyone looking to change career paths should look to their previous experiences, and think how they would apply to possible opportunities.

    Be honest, but don’t sell yourself short either. It’s up to you to determine where you fit best, and it’s also up to you to help your potential employer see why you might be indispensable.

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