Dear Graduate | Words of Wisdom for Graduating Veterinary Students

Veterinary Graduation

Dear new grad,

Holy shit(zhu), you did that!

You’ve officially graduated from college and are one step closer to your dream career in veterinary medicine. I know I don’t know you, know you but can I just say — from one veterinary professional to another — I’m so proud of you. And I hope you are so proud of you, too.

I know the journey to get here wasn’t easy but it will be so worth it. And that’s a pretty good metaphor for the profession you’ve picked. Veterinary medicine is incredibly rewarding, but it can certainly be challenging at times, too. It takes a special kind of person to do what we do and I have no doubt that you will make a difference in the lives of both your animal patients and the families who love them.

Now before you step into this new chapter of life, I want to share a few words of wisdom with you. Just a couple of things to keep in mind as you begin your career in veterinary medicine:

Take Care of Yourself

Start building those healthy habits now — find some easy but nutritious + yummy meals you can throw together after a long shift, get yourself an emotional support water bottle that you can bring everywhere (and decorate it with some cute stickers that make you smile while you’re at it),  build an evening routine that helps you de-stress after the particularly hard shifts, and please keep your hobbies outside of vet med alive. Our job requires us to have so much compassion and resiliency — but it’s hard to pour from an empty cup. Create a routine that takes care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs so you can deliver the best care to your patients. And if you ever find that your cup IS empty… I want you to know that you’re not alone.

1 in 6 Veterinary Professionals...

You’ve probably heard the statistics, mental health issues are very real in our profession. I don’t say this to scare you. I just want you to know that if there ever comes a day that you find yourself feeling compassion fatigue, burnout, feelings of depression, or worse — you’re not alone and there is help available for you. And needing help is not a sign that this profession is not right for you or that you’re not doing great work. Most veterinary professionals face these struggles at one or many points in their career. All that matters is that you do what you need to feel better. There are resources available like therapy but sometimes you just need to take a break and that’s okay, too.

It’s Okay if it Takes Time

I hope that the very first place you end up is your DREAM clinic but if it’s not… don’t worry. Your journey to finding “the one” hehe may be unexpected but I promise there is a dream fit out there for you. And every new opportunity will help shape you into a more versatile and skilled veterinary professional. Even the most difficult clinics I’ve worked in have taught me something valuable to take forward to the next one. And I know you will do the same.

Be the Change

We have a saying here at Love Huvet: be the change you wish to see in veterinary medicine. You’ll probably be the new kid on the block at your next position but that doesn’t diminish the impact you can have not only on your patients + their owners but on your peers, co-workers, and our profession as a whole. It all starts by being and embodying the change that you wish to see.

Never Stop Learning

You’ve learned a lot to get to this point and experience will only deepen that knowledge —  but as the years go by and you go from fresh grad to having years and years of experience to pull from, remember to stay curious and open and never stop building your skills. Not only will it help you become better at what you do but it will help keep your passion and love for this work alive.

Boundaries are Your Friend

One day you might get a text from your Aunt or a FB message from your friend from high school asking “my dog is experiencing X, Y, and Z… what should I do?”… maybe it has already happened. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t or can’t answer that message — but I also want you to know that it’s perfectly okay to say “please talk to your vet” or send them a CashApp request first. Just because you’re the go-to vet in your family or friend group doesn’t mean you have to be on-call 24/7 — you’re allowed to set whatever boundaries feel right for you. There’s a common misconception that boundaries are unkind or that setting boundaries makes you a selfish person but I promise you that couldn’t be further from the truth. Boundaries are not only a kind act toward yourself but they really are kind to the people in our life, too.

Remember Your Why

The last piece of advice I want to give you is to never forget the reason you started this journey in the first place. Somedays will be all puppies and kittens (whether metaphorically or literally) but on the tough days remember your “why” and let your it drive you.

I want to wish you all the best as you begin this exciting chapter of your life, new grad. The world needs more compassionate and dedicated veterinary professionals like you, and I have no doubt that you will make a positive impact in the lives of both animals and their human companions and for veterinary medicine as a whole. Now go celebrate your hard work.

Congratulations and best of luck,

Emily Ahsan, CVT

Founder of Love Huvet

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