I recently found myself thinking “Wow!! How did I make it to 4th year so fast? What’s next after NAVLE? How can I make sure that I don’t make any mistakes this last year applying for jobs (I probably will make many mistakes), setting priorities? When do I start actually applying for a job? How is the process? And ultimately, just what happens after graduation?”
I’ve been so caught up with school and exams that I have never actually sat down to think about my future out of vet school (let’s face it vet students barely have any time for anything). Yes, I have dreamed of what I would like it to be in the long run, but not about those first couples of years. So, I panicked and talked to my big, Dr. Fraser. I had so many questions and needed answers! She graduated in May 2019 from TUCVM and has been officially working in a big veterinary clinic for a year. So, I took this opportunity to get some answers and share with anyone that might have the same questions!
- How soon during vet school did you officially know where you were going to work? I decided I wanted to work in this hospital after my 2nd year of vet school. I didn’t officially decide until my 3rd year.
- I feel that some students that don’t want to specialize, might be lost in terms of “should I do an internship to gain more clinical exposure feel more prepared?” or “should I start a job straight out of school?”. What is your personal opinion or advice for them(me lol)? I had the exact same questions & thoughts. I actually listened to a few blog or podcast type discussions on VIN about doing an internship vs starting to practice right away. I looked at the internship list early and looked at locations I would want to move to and their pay. But honestly, it came down to making sure I found a good-paying job with strong mentorship. If I hadn’t found that I probably would’ve done an internship.
- Guide me through the whole process from the moment you applied for jobs to the moment you got the job. The first decision was planning my preceptorships. I based them off of where I planned on living. I chose the specialty/ER clinic so I could meet the doctors I knew I would be referring my patients to. I chose the animal services in the area to improve my surgical skills but also to build a relationship with the shelter for the future. Shortly after I returned to school for fall clinics I talked to my mentor about working at the hospital, specifically at the location where I was a student. I applied and was guided through the application process. I applied and had 2-3 phone interviews before I was hired.
- Can you negotiate your contract? You can negotiate travel expenses, sign-on bonuses, and how often you want to work (5 days a week vs 4 days a week). Family-owned hospitals you can negotiate more.
- Did you pick when you wanted to start or was it started for you? I chose my start date but, my start date depended on when I received my state license which takes a very long time. I passed my FL license test the Monday after graduation (first week of May) but I didn’t receive my state license/won’t be able to practice until around July 1st. Some family-owned hospitals might allow you to work under their license.
- What does your average week look like? I alternate between working 5 days a week and 4 days a week. My hours are 9:00 am-7:00 pm except on Sundays from 9:00 am-5:00 pm. I am usually able to head home no later than 7:30 pm.
- What is the hardest part of the job? The constant fear of messing up and getting sued or a patient dying on my watch. The clients that don’t realize we just want the best for their pets.
- How are you maintaining your work-life balance? Honestly, it took me a while to get into my routine, and still barely keep up with it. It’s been 11 months since I started working! I think I’m doing a pretty good job of separating work and life outside work
- The big question now, I know it’s been only a year since you’ve been out but being surrounded by professionals that have been in the field for a longer time… talk to me about your thoughts in compassion fatigue. There are some days where I am just physically, mentally, and emotionally drained but the best way I have found to cope with it besides plopping on my couch with ice cream and wine is by taking time off whenever I want/can. If I’m starting to feel burnt out I will plan a weekend or a few days just to give myself a break to reboot.
- NAVLE! Anything you can tell me LOL Organization is key. I made sure to have 90% of my notes organized by July so that way I spent the majority of my time reviewing instead of still making notes. Staying calm.
- 3 things you wish you knew while in vet school, now that you are out in the real world You WILL be reading, Vin-ing, looking up everything after graduation- don’t be ashamed!
- What is your advice for 4rdyear students when doing preceptorships? This is your time to try something you are interested in (Exotics, Dentistry, Holistic, etc). Avoid using your time somewhere that you are going to be miserable and won’t learn anything.
- Lastly, if you could go back in time, what would you tell 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4thyear Liv?
- 4th years- Just keep swimming you’re almost done! You got this!
- 3rd years- Take it easy! I remember being in a constant state of stress/panic. Everything is going to work out. Study hard, this is not the time to slack off. Find time to take breaks.
- 1st & 2nd years- Save money, stock up on coffee, build a routine now, 1st years- Don’t work too hard! Just enjoy your first summer break.
Thank you, Dr. Fraser, for always making time for my constant question! Wishing you much success in the future.