Your Role in the Practice
Last time we talked about finding your passion, your interests within veterinary medicine, what really gets you up in the morning. Hopefully you took a journey back in time, to see what specific events pointed you toward giving care to animals.
Some of us have defining moments or events in our youth that seemed to direct us down this path of veterinary medicine; was there one for you? You should have also looked at your education and experience in years past, and determined what tasks you enjoyed doing, and which were not your favorite. Lastly, you could have asked others around you for their feedback on where it seems you are happiest at work. With this information, you may have come to some conclusions about what excites you. The list may be quite short, with only a few strong interests, or may have many options for your future. Now it’s time to figure out if any of these will point you to a continued career or renewed passion for veterinary medicine.
When you reviewed your list, did you automatically identify tasks that you do now and can continue to do? Would there be an opportunity to do it more often perhaps? Or did some items show up that were part of your dream while you were in tech school, but since then there has been no opportunity to fulfill that dream in the practice(s) in which you have worked? Maybe you’ve recalled how much lab animal or equine interested you, but now you find yourself sidetracked into companion animal medicine. The bottom line is that you will either match up one of your interests to a common goal for the practice you work in now, or you will determine that employment elsewhere is what you need to refuel your passion. Those are really the only two choices; it can only be one way. The best fit is found when you match your interests to the mission of the practice in which you are employed, for the benefit of everyone involved…including the clients and patients.
Let’s say you determined that you really enjoy dental work. You’re doing some of that now with the routine prophy procedures in your practice. Looking back it was an area that peaked your interest in school, you try to perform as many of these as possible now, and even your coworkers notice that your mood is lighter and you’re more apt to joke and laugh while engaged in this type of work. So the first thought is, can you do more of this type of work?
This is when you would go to the management team and find out if the practice wants to grow their dental services. Could you take on a role of leading this profit center, perhaps completing even more dental cleanings each day? Would this require creating a new position for you of “Dental Coordinator” or something similar? What if your interest is not just what you do now, but the potential to expand your knowledge and skills in dentistry. You may have heard of the technician specialty (VTS) in dentistry, and you’re wondering if this could be a career path for you. Again, reach out to the manager/owner and find out if they have a future objective to expand dental services.
If they say yes, great, we have a perfect match! In fact, sometimes a practice will help subsidize the training and education of the team member in order to build this new profit center in the practice. But if they say, well, we’re not sure, then perhaps put some thought and time in to investigating this possibility. How much will the additional equipment cost? What is the potential to generate new income? Will there need to be more staff to handle the load? If the practice is willing to put some thought in to this possibility, then move forward together. However, if they have no desire or intention to ever venture into expanding dental services, then you may have reached a dead end in that particular practice. It happens. But it doesn’t mean you have to stifle your professional growth. There are other practices that would be happy to have you and your future skills. At least now you know that when you go looking for a new employment opportunity, you want to find a place that will align with and benefit from your future career dreams.
This type of scenario works with any interest you can imagine, you just may need to get creative. For example, you really like detail work and you’re the go-to person when any piece of equipment fails…could there be interest in creating an Inventory/Equipment Manager position? You work in a larger hospital that routinely has hospitalized patients…does the new VTS in Clinical Practice peak your interest? You are in a second career in veterinary medicine, coming from the world of business marketing…could you practice use a Marketing Director where you can combine what you love in each profession? There really is no limit to the possibilities, when you discover your desire and match it to a practice that needs exactly what you have to offer!