Vet Med Talk: Tips For Thriving As A New Grad

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First, congrats on making it to this point where you finally get to be a veterinarian! 

Freedom! 🙌🏻 Vet school is NO joke, and you have had to jump through a lot of hoops to get here. This is a new chapter. You finally get to start choosing how you live your life instead of having every step laid out for you.

If you don’t already know your core values, now’s a good time to identify them. They’re an awesome guiding light as you navigate life decisions to find a path that feels fulfilling.

For more on this topic, listen to the very first “Life Boost with Amelia” podcast episode I recorded (that’s how important I think they are).

  

If it feels uncomfortable and awkward, nothing has gone wrong. 

In order to feel comfortable and confident as a vet, you have to go through the beginning stage when some conversations with clients feel awkward, you have to look everything up, you realize you could have approached something differently, or you feel like you have no clue what’s going on (spoiler alert: you will have moments like that no matter how long you’re in practice). Without those growing pains, you cannot grow. 

Telling myself this helped me to be brave as a new grad every time I encountered a new case or procedure I hadn’t done: “This is the only time this is the first time you have to do this. Next time it will be easier”. It will. 


Just because you’re a new grad doesn't mean you don’t deserve basic necessities.

You deserve time to eat and rest and to be a human outside of work. Basic necessities are not something you have to earn. Now more than ever, it is really important that you are supporting your body and brain so you have the energy and resilience to put all that you have learned into practice. If you self-sacrifice your own needs, everything will feel so much harder and won't be able to show up as your best for your patients.

There are many hospitals that understand this. I’m putting together a list of unicorn veterinary hospitals who understand the importance of creating an environment that sets you up for success. Stay tuned for more on this or visit www.lifeboost.today/upconsult.


Now’s a good time to unlearn a lot of the patterns that have helped you to get to this point.

Vet school selects for and rewards a lot of patterns that will lead you straight to burnout if you continue to think they’re important for your success. Having recovered from burnout, I assure you they will not.

Trauma can happen any time your body experiences more stress than it can process in the moment (hello, vet school). When that happens it can shift you into survival mode. Always being stressed/worried, never being able to slow down/turn your brain off even when you’re exhausted, perfectionist tendencies, people-pleasing, and self-sacrificing your own needs are just a few of the many signs.

Check out the resources at the end of this post.


It’s okay to say you don’t know and to look it up.

Who would you trust more: 

  • A doctor who is comfortable and transparent enough to be honest when they want to look something up or to consult with a colleague on a tricky case
  • A doctor who pretends to know something even when they’re not sure because they’re too afraid to get/ask for help when they need it

When you tell an owner you want to consult with someone that shows that you care and have a positive intention. If an owner doesn’t think you have a positive intention, it doesn’t matter how much you know because they’re not going to listen or trust you.


Learn anti-anxiety tools so you can have access to the part of your brain that can think clearly and problem-solve even when you’re stressed.

Rubbing your fingertips together can silence your inner critic so you can have way more useful thoughts. 

Passing an object back and forth between your hands can instantly shift you into a calmer state and even help to prevent a panic attack. 

Everyone in vet med should know tricks like this and very few do, which means once you learn anti-anxiety tools you can share them with colleagues and even clients. Check out the free resources at the end of this post.


Write down your successes every day. Seriously.

Your brain is going to naturally notice mistakes and the times that you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing more than the cases that you totally rock. If you don’t purposefully notice the positive moments, it will seem like the hard cases are piling up and feel like proof that you don’t belong. You’re awesome and you do belong. 

Write down your successes every day and keep it easily accessible (like on the notes app on your phone). Look at that list often, especially on the tough days when you need a reminder of how awesome you are.  Examples: a case with a successful outcome, something new you did, a nice convo with an owner, a cute patient that you got to see, something you learned from a tricky case, etc).


Rude clients are going to happen, but they don’t have to be draining.

A difficult client is just a human who feels unsafe. Their nervous system is in fight mode, because something is feeling threatening/stressful/overwhelming. This isn’t about you - it’s about their internal experience.

Ditch judgment and embrace curiosity to identify what is feeling threatening and what needs to happen to re-establish safety and mutual respect. There are tons of reasons an owner may be stressed (worried about their pet, finances, something else in their life is feeling hard because #life, etc.). 

These interactions can be incredibly rewarding for both of you when they come from a place of compassion and curiosity rather than reactivity and judgment. Of course, if they’re not willing to be respectful when given a second chance, a boundary needs to be created because this relationship will not lead to a positive outcome. More on this in my free Beat The Burnout video, “No More Bullies: Overcoming Toxic Clients and the Negative Thoughts Weighing You Down”.

 

I might have to do a part 2 because there are so many more I want to share!

In the meantime, check out these free resources:

Want support whenever you need it while navigating this new chapter of life? The 3 game changer program was made for you! When I ask vets who have gone through it who they would recommend it to, they always say “honestly, everyone!”, and DEFINITELY new grads.

This self-paced program with group and individual support teaches everything that helped me to recover from burnout and live life in a way that gives me energy instead of draining it. 

If things feel hard or awkward starting out as a new grad, I like to call that the “goo stage”. In order for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it LIQUIFIES inside of its cocoon. 😳 Not a super pleasant process, I imagine, but it’s a necessary step in order to alchemize into a butterfly capable of soaring to new heights. There are a lot of things that can help to make the goo stage a whole lot more comfortable and that’s what I teach in the game changer. 

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