5 traits of a successful veterinary school graduate


Diploma's in hand. Tests are passed. Now see if you've got what it takes to dive into practice.

Veterinary-school seniors, you're done—or almost done. Congratulations. You've learned a lot, and now you're ready to inflict it—er, share it with the world.

But before you do, make sure you've got these five important traits of a successful graduate in addition to all the book learning, natural talent, and practice time. They come from Elaine Stirling's The Corporate Storyteller:

1. Responsibility. When you feel frozen and unsure what to do, remember you're a veterinarian now. Clients, bosses, and team members are counting on you to make decisions—whether it's to ask for help, verify information, or make a difficult choice in the heat of the moment.

2. Curiosity. You've just been stuffed full of more medical information than the human brain can hold, but we bet you're still brimming with curiosity about animal physiology, client psychology, and business terminology—or you should be. Never let go of the curiosity that led you to veterinary school. Losing curiosity, the sense that the world always has something new to teach, leads to mental fatigue, passivity, and distraction.

3. Capacity. You won't know the right answer all the time, but courage will give you the capacity to let wrong answers and "I don't know" keep rolling through until the solution pops up. Don't be defensive; let the creative juices flow.

4. Audacity. You need more than a sense of responsibility to make decisions; you need audacity, a brazen willingness to wade into the messy fray of veterinary practice and provide help to pets, their owners, as well as the other members of your practice team.

5. Authority. You need authority, and not just the kind bestowed on you by veterinary schools, licensing boards, and employers. The word authority is related to the words author and self—you're the author in charge of your destiny. Authority can mean holding yourself accountable for your words and actions. To be truly engaged in a job, a career, a patient, or a client is to be ready to make decisions (remember responsibility above?) and to hold yourself accountable as the authority in making them—good or bad, mistake or success.

And always remember, your colleagues are here for you as you develop into the leaders we all know you are.

Now get out there and have fun.

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