By: Dr. Jordan Spears
Searching for your first job after vet school can be a very stressful process. There is a lot of pressure to have the perfect job secured before you graduate. If you are a 4th year still in the job hunting process, I feel for you, I really do! It wasn’t long ago I was in your same position, feeling the exact same pressure, and most likely the same anxiety.
First, I want to encourage you that it is completely all right if you haven’t found a job yet. Don’t let the pressures that surround you lead you to accept a job too quickly. Trust me when I say that you have time.
Second, I want to remind you that God already has your job in mind for you. You can have complete trust in His provision. He made you a veterinarian for a reason, and He is going to put you in the best position to do His will. Ephesians 2:10 captures this perfectly:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
That being said, here are a few practical tips that I have gathered from fellow new graduates to keep in mind while you are job interviewing. These suggestions are to help you navigate and determine whether or not a potential job would be a good place for you to grow and have a solid work environment that would help you succeed in your first year out of vet school:
Have a working interview
While I know these may not always be possible, working interviews (at least 2 days) are essential in helping you get a good idea of how a practice runs and whether or not you can picture yourself there. Interact with all the doctors and staff (the receptionists, too!). Ask them what they like about working at the practice and what about the environment they wish would change. Take the time to talk to some of the clients, as well. One of the things that attracted me to the clinic I work at now is that over and over I heard how much the clients loved this clinic and that they had been coming there for years. This clinic was very much a part of the community and had a good reputation, which speaks volumes for the character of the practice and the doctors who work there.
Pay attention to staff turn-over time
Ask the staff how long they have been working at the clinic and what the turn-over is like there. If you notice a pattern where many previous doctors have left after 2-3 years, this is a red flag. On the other side of things, if you observe that the majority of doctors have been working there for 5+ years, this is a good sign that they are working in a healthy environment.
Aim for a multiple-doctor practice
Working in a two-person or solo practice can be very exciting, rewarding, and self-fulfilling. However, it also can be very demanding and may not leave enough time for family and church life. It is essential to be involved in your church community (regularly attending church and a small group, as well as serving). Your first year out is already very emotionally demanding, so I highly recommend searching for a job that has multiple doctors that can share the load and not leave you alone.
There is nothing more terrifying than showing up on your first day and having your boss leave you to fend for yourself. I know this seems like an awful, unimaginable thing, but I have several newly graduated friends who experienced this very thing. Make sure your boss (or another doctor in the clinic) is committed to mentoring you. Ask specifically what this mentorship will look like (i.e. will you be shadowing for the first couple weeks or start seeing appointments immediately? If you have an on-call schedule, will they accompany you on emergencies your first month out? What will your caseload look like when you start?)
Observe the overall appearance of the hospital
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to note how clean the hospital is. I remember I was very impressed with how clean and good-smelling my clinic’s boarding facility was. It told me a lot about the quality of animal care there. Check out the clinic’s medical records, radiographs, surgical area, pharmacy and diagnostic equipment. Based off what you see, ask yourself if you feel like the clinic would provide you with the tools to learn and practice high quality medicine.
Discuss your faith in your interview
I’m not saying you have to tell your potential employer your entire testimony, but do make sure to mention the importance of your faith during your interview. I remember specifically asking my boss how he would feel if I offered to pray for my clients during an euthanasia. I believe it is important for a future employer to know up front if you are planning to do this in their practice. If you are applying for a job with weekend shifts, this can also be the time to discuss whether or not they will be expecting you to work Sundays.
Finally, prayer is extremely important in making the decision to accept a job offer! Remember that you are not only seeking a work environment that will cultivate your potential to become an amazing veterinarian, but you are also seeking God’s will in where you will have the most potential to make a great impact for His kingdom. After receiving two job offers, I took a weekend away just to spend time with God and pray about them. He gave me peace about my decision to accept one of the offers, and I spent that time asking God to help prepare my heart to be a light in my future workplace. I can see now it is no coincidence where I am currently working, and I am excited to see what God has in store for my co-workers and colleagues!
I hope these tips provided a little wisdom and encouragement to those of you who are currently job searching, and I wish you the best of luck! I pray that God gives you His peace and security in knowing that your future is in His trustworthy hands. You have nothing to worry about when you have the God of the universe on your side.
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