You’ve worked hard for five years (or more) to obtain your veterinary degree. You passed all the tests. You completed those EMS placements. You may have even performed a few surgeries in your time. Yet, this is only the beginning.
Whether you have just started your first job as a veterinarian, are on the job hunt, or are considering changing jobs, there is still so much to learn. Progression is no longer a case of memorising anatomy but applying practical skills, pursuing mastery and communicating with your colleagues and clients effectively.
Soft skills for veterinarians – such as time management, emotional intelligence (and more!) – are not taught at university. However, we believe they are an essential part of every veterinarian’s toolkit for a successful, happy, and sustained career.
In the following, we explain how attaining professional skills can massively bolster a career as a veterinarian (we will also give you access to a few of our resources along the way).
Read on to learn about soft skills for veterinarians, and why you need them.
Happiness and Wellbeing
The veterinary profession is facing an epidemic: burnout. Veterinarians across the globe are feeling insurmountably stressed to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. In fact, burnout can occur very soon after starting a career in veterinary medicine. According to Hatch et al., the first five years after graduation are considered a ‘pinch point’ for experiencing burnout.
This is where soft skills for veterinarians come into play. Soft skills – when obtained at the start of a veterinarian’s career – provide a buffer against burnout and will give you the best footing possible.
The essential professional skills needed to maintain wellbeing and happiness are: building resilience, effective communication and positive psychology. Inevitably, you will make mistakes as a new veterinarian, but it is resilience that will help you to view these in a positive light and use them as a springboard for progression. An integral component of happiness is feeling connection to others. Learning how to communicate effectively – with clients and colleagues – will enable you to do this. Finally, the ability to maintain a positive state of mind is vital to a sustained career in vet med.
Ultimately, being a veterinarian can and should be one of the most rewarding professions on the planet. You improve the welfare of animals as your day job, it’s a calling for many (and it’s why it’s called a profession, not an industry!) but you should also seek to maintain your own wellbeing.
Communicating effectively with clients is an integral part of becoming a successful veterinarian. University may have taught you the importance of theoretical knowledge and practical examination, but we are inclined to say that this is only half the story.
Technically, you could be the most skilled vet in the area, but if you cannot convey both warmth, and your diagnosis to clients, then offer a persuasive and assertive treatment recommendation, you will never fulfil your purpose.
Professional skills such as building emotional intelligence and beating the feeling of being an imposter will help you to communicate confidently. Emotional intelligence helps us to understand how people are feeling, why they may be feeling a certain way, and how their needs can be met.
Once you begin acquiring these all important professional skills, you will be able to start setting ever more ambitious goals. Whether this be mastering a new skill, starting the journey towards specialisation, or building towards a leadership role, professional skills will act as your foundation for success.
You may have heard of Blunt Dissection, a podcast hosted by Dr Dave Nicol. In every episode, Dr Dave hears from rock stars of the veterinary profession who are at the top of their game and thriving. Although every guest has a unique story to tell, there is a commonality. Many seem to have passions outside of veterinary medicine. This helps them to grow personally, which has obviously had a hugely positive impact on their professional lives. The sooner we realise that non-clinical and clinical skills are entwined, the sooner we will be able to create sustainable careers in vet med.
In other words, investing in your personal growth and soft skills is certainly not to be sniffed at. In order to become well rounded, capable humans (as well as veterinarians!) we must explore life outside of practice!
Thrive is a comprehensive professional skills program led by VetX International. Our mission is to teach veterinarians the skills that are simply not covered at vet school. Comprising online training led by experts with decades of experience, practical toolkits to help consolidate the skills, live coaching and an international community, Thrive is the ultimate package for any veterinarian looking to start on the best footing.
If you are interested in what Thrive could offer you, check out this webpage for more information. A couple of things that make Thrive stand out are the unrivalled expertise, not only from Dr Dave Nicol but a variety of experts in the field, and the expansive community. We are so proud of our supportive community of veterinarians who are working hard to achieve successful and happy careers, with a positive mindset. If you would like to join, there is no better time – the community is growing fast!