While salary is an important consideration when you are deciding which veterinary position to pursue, many other factors should also be contemplated. Our team at Inspire Veterinary Partners wants to help by offering tips to help you find the perfect veterinary practice for the career path you wish to follow.
#1: Find a veterinary practice that provides an acceptable work-life balance
Practicing veterinary medicine is physically and mentally challenging, and involves long hours and a good deal of stress. Burnout and compassion fatigue are prevalent, and veterinarians are at higher risk for suicide. When you are seeking a veterinary position, finding a practice that offers an acceptable work-life balance is important, to protect your long-term physical and mental health. Any practice can tout their flexible and family friendly culture, but you should ensure the practice can demonstrate the actions they take to support and encourage an appropriate work-life balance. Key elements that should be part of a practice’s culture include:
- Defined break times — Ensure break times are well defined during a work shift, and that these breaks actually occur.
- Regular review of hours — A team member’s hours should be tracked and reviewed regularly, to ensure an individual is not working excessive overtime.
- Determine work-life balance — The practice should determine what work-life balance means to every employee. One person may prefer shorter work days, while another may favor fewer days. Discuss these issues to ensure everyone finds their work situation acceptable.
- Open dialogue — Team members should feel comfortable approaching management personnel regarding personal issues and requests for roster changes.
#2: Find a veterinary practice that provides a strong team environment
Your fellow team members will be with you for long hours through stressful situations, and the ones who will help when you are unsure about proceeding with a certain case, or upset because you lost a patient. You want people you can trust to offer any necessary support and provide assistance. Building rapport can take time, but you can look for certain factors when researching a practice.
- Are the team members welcoming? — When you visit the practice, everyone— veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and staff—should be open and welcoming.
- Are the team members friendly to each other? — If the team members are cool to each other and interact only when discussing a case, this may indicate friction in the practice. Ideally, team members should be friendly and collaborative, and willing to express a professional sense of humor.
- Have the team members been at the practice for long? — Frequent employee turnover may indicate that the practice is not conducive to long-term employment.
- Do they have external team activities? — Planned team activities outside work can build camaraderie and promote a better work environment.
#3: Find a veterinary practice that provides continuing education opportunities
Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from veterinary school, and continuing education (CE) is extremely important to your personal and professional development. In addition, each state requires veterinarians to get a certain number of CE hours to maintain their veterinary license. Many conferences are held throughout the United States that provide veterinarians with continuing education opportunities to increase their knowledge in specific areas, learn about new research, and network with other professionals. However, these courses can be expensive, and attendance often requires time off work. Ensure the practice you choose provides CE resources, covers any necessary travel expenses, and does not require that you use your vacation time to attend a conference. A good way to get information about a practice’s CE situation is to ask your potential employer what CE benefits they provide, or ask an associate veterinarian about the last CE event they attended.
#4: Find a veterinary practice that provides top quality medical care
Ask ten veterinarians to define “top quality medical care” and you’ll likely get ten different answers. What’s important is that you have a clear definition of what quality care looks like to you, then ensure your philosophy aligns with your potential employer’s vision. You don’t want your name associated with a practice that provides poor medical care. You should ensure the employer you choose practices a high standard of care, and patients get the treatment they deserve. The veterinarians should be knowledgeable about current diagnostic and treatment protocols, and have access to up-to-date equipment and technology. In addition, ensure pet owners are satisfied with their pet’s level of care. Investigate a practice’s social media presence and read the client reviews to help determine if a practice is providing quality veterinary care.
#5: Find a veterinary practice that provides acceptable benefits
Insurance can be extremely expensive, and the practice you choose should provide an insurance plan that allows you to access quality medical care. You should also ask if they offer life insurance or disability plans, because the veterinary field can be physically demanding. A retirement plan is also important—you may think you are a long way from retiring, with plenty of time to save money, but these plans can greatly increase your retirement fund.
When searching for the best practice for your veterinary career, you must ensure that your decision is based on many more factors than the starting salary. Take the above considerations into account, as well—the highest income does not necessarily equate to the right practice. If you are interested in learning how factors such as a healthy work-life balance, exceptional benefits, and high-quality medical care can help you love your career, contact Inspire Veterinary Partners.