Myth #1: New grads know how to do everything.

Um, nope. Sure, we know A LOT when we graduate, but there is still so much to learn.

After four years of vet school and a yearlong internship, I began working at a small animal private practice. My first surgery there was a fat lab spay. Seems easy enough for a career-first surgery, right? I didn’t know this at the time, but all my vet friends now agree that a fat lab spay is literally the hardest surgery we do! Not long after I began the procedure in the surgery suite I found myself freaking out, sweating bullets, feeling totally insecure. So I called in my boss to ask for help.

“I thought you did an internship,” he said.

Suggesting that this surgery should be a no-brainer for me because I had completed an internship gave me pause. Yes, I did complete an internship, but I still needed help with this fat lab spay. It wasn’t that I’m not smart, or incompetent, or didn’t pay enough attention in my internship. The simple fact was my learning was not yet complete. We never stop learning in vet med.

Maybe my new boss was too busy to help, or maybe he just forgot what it was like at the beginning of his career, but it was a moment that has stuck with me for 20 years. I’m actually grateful for that eye-opening experience because it led me to actively seek out positive mentors throughout my career to help guide me – and I will ALWAYS have sympathy for a new grad doing her first fat lab spay!