The first years after graduation can prove very stressful. Leaving vet school and getting your first job can be an incredibly demanding transition. You are in a new area, separated from your family and from the support structures that you developed as a student.
All of a sudden, you are working long hours, it's very tiring, your confidence in your clinical judgement may take more than the occasional knock and your ability to relate easily to clients disappears like the morning mist.
On top of this, you are not sure you like the accommodation you are in and your mates are miles away and just as busy as you are.
All of a sudden, life may not look so rosy.
Abridged from an article by Trevor Heath, School of Veterinary Science, the University of Queensland
Aust Vet J/Vol 78 No 5 May 2000
1. Get experience of dealing with the public face to face in holiday jobs
2. Develop competence with
3. Arrange to keep personal readjustments to a minimum - try not to make any big changes to your life outside work, like breaking up a relationship, in the first few months of starting a job.
4. Make contacts that may lead to a good job through work experience and visits to practices.
5. Select your boss with great care as he will be the main determinant of your stress level in the job. Check who is really in charge - it can sometimes be the principal's spouse or other practice manager.
6. Get it in writing - ensure you get a contract stating the precise conditions of your employment.
7. Make clear that you are prepared to learn. Look, ask, listen, think, take advice and learn.
8. Consider the feelings of others, including the boss, who must maintain the practice while helping you settle in; and also those of nurses, colleagues and clients, all of whom may have much to offer. Clean up after yourself; imagine yourself in their place. Never underestimate the importance of an animal to its owner.
9. Take steps to maintain mental and physical health:
10. Think and act as a professional person:
The services below are targeted specifically at recent graduates to offer support and social contact.
As well as the resources listed below, don't forget to look at the pages on this site related to Stress, Anxiety and Depression, Employment, Relationships, Vets and Debt and Addiction and Eating Disorders.
"I think there are few jobs as demanding on your spare time or as unpredictable."
Quote from BVA New Graduate Guide
The Vet Helpline is there for you to speak to someone with personal experience of the veterinary profession about whatever is troubling you. Volunteers who are vets or spouses of vets provide an empathetic listening service. They can also tell you how to get more specialist help if necessary. Local call rates apply, 24hr rapid response answer phone.
The Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme is availabe for you if you have (or suspect you have) problems with addiction or depression. The service is professional, supportive, and completely confidential.
The Rural Stress Helpline offers a confidential, non judgemental listening service to anyone in a rural area feeling troubled, anxious, worried, stressed or needing information. They can also provide ongoing support, if necessary, until the difficulty is resolved or other help is in place.
The Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental support, 24 hours a day for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
Write: Chris, PO Box 90 90 , Stirling, FK8 2SA
"Make sure that you find your boss easy to talk to, and seek advice from. Don't worry - it does get gradually less stressful as time goes on! Talk to your fellow graduates - it often made me feel better to know that other people were having the same problems."
Quote from BVA New Graduate Guide
There are some excellent articles here which will reassure you that you are not alone, that there are things you can do to alleviate the stress and that things will get better.
Overcoming Loneliness in Your First Job (Veterinary Record)
Isolation in the Workplace (In-Practice Article)
Advice from Recent Graduates (from BVA)
A Guide to the Early Years in Practice – this is a really great article and should be required reading for all new graduates – and their bosses!
"Remember that you know a lot more than the owners and that you have ethical guidelines that you must follow. Don't be bullied or pressured into decisions you don't want to make or feel to be wrong. Never lose your temper with a client, stay calm and stand strong."
Quote from BVA New Graduate Guide
The Recent Graduate Support Officer (RGSO) team are experienced practitioners who are sympathetic to the needs of the young veterinary surgeon but have the knowledge to advise them on all sorts of issues to do with, for example, employment contracts, and professional matters or just to give support at difficult times.
The RGSO is always available to discuss any problems that recent graduates may be having, and can be contacted on the number above or on email email@example.com
CV Reading Service
New Graduates' Pack
This booklet summarises much of the information provided at the SPVS Educational Trust Students' Seminar held in Lancaster each year. It covers such important issues as CV writing, applying for jobs and interview technique as well as practice structure and economics and sources of support.
A series of personal accounts covering everything from applying for jobs, interview skills, working abroad, the structure of the profession and much more. Available to SPVS members only, from their website or on request from the Recent Graduate Liaison Team firstname.lastname@example.org – Don't forget to include your name and postal address so that they can check that you are a member.
BVA Graduate Support Scheme Website (Open to non-members)
This is a BVA-led scheme for recent graduates up to five years qualified, aimed at supporting them in their first years outside university and providing a forum where they can share their concerns and collectively seek solutions.
The meetings are organised and hosted by the BVA territorial divisions and run by trained veterinary facilitators. Recent graduates who have already attended the meetings have found them to be a sociable forum to discuss their different experiences of life in practice and meet other recent graduates in the local area.
The scheme is open to members and non-members alike, and the RCVS has confirmed that attendance at the meetings can go towards the annual CPD allowance.
Recent graduates who are interested in attending the meetings should contact Amelia Findon at the BVA on 020 7908 6355 or email email@example.com to find the location of their nearest meeting.
BVA Young Vet Network Website (Members Only). The BVA has set up the Young Vet Network (YVN) in order to provide additional support and services to BVA members in their final year of study and up to the end of their eighth year qualified.
As well as the standard benefits of BVA membership, YVN members also receive:
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Provides support to recently graduated veterinary nurses who are members.