When you’re fresh out of school, you think you’re prepared for the world of veterinary medicine. Years later, you realize you had NO IDEA what you were getting yourself into.  I recently thought back on what I would tell my younger, newly graduated veterinary technician self. Here are my top 14 things:

books, pencil, apple on white1) You’ll never look at your notes from school, so don’t let them take up any more years on your bookshelf. You’ll learn way more in practice than you ever dreamed of learning from those scribbled explanations.

2) You’re going to LOVE abscesses in an unnatural way. The lead up, the suspense, the explosion of pus…. It’s just so satisfying to watch, and doctors will learn to include you in every one of these cases.

3) The first year is the hardest. You’ll feel like an idiot but you’ll get through it and eventually teach others how to do the things you’re stressed about learning now.

4) You won’t cry at every euthanasia. I’m not saying these will ever be easy, but you will develop a respect for the process and appreciate it as a gift for your suffering patients.

5) Try not to judge. This is a difficult one. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the job and become jaded. Don’t judge an owner by their appearance. The ones who look like they have no money and don’t care are often the ones who will go above and beyond for their pet. Other “high rollers” simply won’t care. People will surprise you.

Close-up portrait of a cat and dog, isolated on white background6) Don’t get caught up in gossip. Vet clinics can be like high school sometimes. Focus on your own thing and rise above.

7) You will eventually get paid more. It will never seem like enough, but you’ll get paid in other ways too, like puppy kisses and appreciation from your clients.

8) You will never stop learning and 5 years from now you may see something for the very first time. Never think you know it all because really… you never will.

9) Every technician (and veterinarian) has insecurities. Learn to help each other and never forget how important team work is.

10) Never settle. This is your life and you’re in charge of it. If you’re unsatisfied with the state of your current position, remember you’re responsible for your own happiness! Don’t be afraid of change, it’s good for you.

11) Don’t jeopardize your beliefs for the sake of a job. Work in a place where you are happy and agree with the medicine, or you won’t take pride in your workplace.

12) NEVER allow anyone to tell you that you are ‘just’ a technician, or assistant, or receptionist. We are ALL important parts of a big machine and no one can do their jobs without the other team members.

13) Don’t ever tolerate improper patient care, bullying, or animal abuse. Never forget our patients do not have a voice.

14) Compassion fatigue happens, and it’s not anything to be ashamed of. It WILL happen, and when it does, know to act ASAP. Talk to others, in some cases take a step back, or seek out something that will help you through it. Find support inside or outside your clinic, but no matter what, don’t just suffer in silence and think there is nothing you can do.

Samantha Toy RVTSamantha Toy, RVT

Growing up in London, Ontario, Canada, Samantha was a born animal lover and rescuer.  Graduating as an RVT in 2006, she worked in general practice until 2015.  She now focuses her passion on helping veterinary clinics improve their workflow and patient care with Smart Flow. You can check out more of her blogs at //blog.smartflowsheet.com.