by Dr. Becky Nicholson MRCVS
Changing your vet job can be an intimidating proposition. There is little spare time to job hunt, there’s a tendency for vets to be self-deprecating – so promoting yourself isn’t easy, and we’ve all heard stories from peers that make us grateful for what we’ve got – better the devil you know and all that.
However, you may wonder if things could be different. Is the stress you’re experiencing specific to your job or is it the profession overall? It’s possible to confuse familiarity with contentment.
It may be that you’re genuinely happy in your current practice, but should you move on anyway? Is changing jobs and experiencing other options good for your career?
There’s a lot to think about when considering a move to a new practice, so here are a few pointers to help you make the right choices.
If you do find yourself questioning your career, register with The Vet Service and explore your job options. There are opportunities all over the globe just check out our international veterinary jobs.
What are your goals?
Assessing your career path is important. You may have hankerings for people-management, clinical coaching, charity work, or clinical development – does your current role provide the means to satisfy these?
You may be content with where you are heading but be unsure if you should stay in the same practice. If you are genuinely happy then there is no career-driven need to move on – but experiencing different practice settings can be advantageous. If you feel angst about what you may be missing, change can help you understand if you are truly satisfying your veterinary ambitions. Locuming can bring vast experience in a short time. If you would be interested in locuming it is good to be aware of what locum vet jobs are out there.
Personal goals should have a huge bearing on your job choice. Stress is too prevalent in our profession. Part of staying mentally content is making sure you can do the things you desire outside of work. Yes, every job comes with some compromise, but it should be a compromise, not a cost to your endeavours. Consider the location, hours, reliability of the rota, scheduled breaks, holiday allowance, and pay.
Anxiety and Stress
Some stress triggers are beyond our control, but others are well within. There is a sustainable amount of stress that can be mitigated by a good work-life balance and a supportive work and home environment.
However, if you are feeling trepidation every morning when you wake, begrudging thoughts about your work, and a lack of escapism – you’re not alone – but a change or a rest is recommended. For change to be productive, you need to recognise what’s driven you to it…
Is the team supportive?
Do you share a laugh at work? This may open the door for sharing the less good times too. Having the backup of seniors and the opportunity to discuss ideas with peers is useful. This is harder for vets on the road, but time to pull over and give a colleague a call for advice, or a quick debrief after a tricky visit, is invaluable.
What are the clients like?
If a team is positive, supportive, and allows themselves to laugh – this often rubs off on clients too. A good atmosphere is often practice-wide – clients that are smiling are less likely to complain – which is always a good thing!
Are you in the loop?
It’s motivational to have feedback – about our clinical work, how we’re received by clients, and how we’re performing financially. The whole team can be involved in providing feedback. A client may call to thank you – if the colleague that takes the call passes the message on it could brighten your whole shift – so it ties in with the supportive team ethic.
Positive feedback is preferable to negative – but a boss who doesn’t pass on the negatives can be as bad as one who doesn’t share any positives. You may never have the chance to justify your actions, which can be extremely stressful.
Of course, when delivering negative feedback there’s a way of doing it. If you are receiving public ticking-offs or shouty phone calls late on a Friday on your weekend off, then that’s not productive. It can be extremely demoralising and degrading.
If you’re not getting any feedback at all, you may feel alone. Everyone benefits from knowing their impact. Formal appraisals are one way, but sometimes a casual quiet word can be just as helpful.
What is the standard of practice like?
Most of us get into this profession to improve animal welfare, so feeling patient care is substandard is a major source of stress. We will all have days when we don’t quite extend the full, gold-standard experience to patients, but if this is a pattern it’s time to think more deeply.
If the practice is poorly staffed for the workload so patient care cannot be satisfactory, or equipment and protocol are substandard, then think carefully about whether you should stay.
If you feel colleagues are compromising care deliberately, by cutting corners to save money, lying to clients to save face, or breaching animal welfare legislation for whatever reason, then that’s a definite red flag to move on. Hopefully, this is rare. Your duty to report malpractice is another issue beyond the scope of this article, but for your sake – don’t hang around.
Can I move jobs too much?
If you are happy in a role, then staying for a while is a good thing – give yourself chance to feel the benefit of being part of an established team. There are always ways to keep the same job fresh – Veterinary CPD is an obvious one. Or just enjoy your time outside of work such that your in-work vibe is content.
If you’re not happy, moving on seems logical – but you can move on too much. Every job is more stressful in the early stages. It takes time to feel settled, feel part of a team, and feel welcomed by clients, so do give jobs a chance. Don’t stay for the sake of ‘surviving a year’ though – especially if you haven’t left jobs rapidly before. Your happiness is the absolute priority.
If you are thinking of making a move we have a diverse range of roles available worldwide: Vet Jobs in The UK, Vet Jobs in Australia, Vet Jobs in New Zealand, Vet Jobs in Canada, and further international vet jobs