What Can You Offer? Adding Cultural Value to Your New Practice
Production is normally the first thing that comes to mind when you think about how you can contribute to your new practice, but the impact you make on your clinic goes beyond its bottom line.
Although you may not realize it, even as an early career veterinarian you can add cultural value to your new workplace through positivity, other-focused energy, and willingness to share and exchange knowledge. This not only enhances the work environment for everyone involved, but helps you find your place, increases your job satisfaction, and sets you up for positive professional and personal growth.
Here are some simple ways to add cultural value to your new practice.
Get to know the team
There’s a lot to learn during your first few months in a practice, but don’t let your clinical efforts overshadow the value of personal connection. Spend time each day—I promise, there will be moments when you’re holding a dog or waiting for a late appointment—making intentional efforts to get to know your new team. This includes associates, technicians, assistants, and client service representatives! Start small by getting to know everyone’s name as soon as possible, then get curious and start asking questions that can provide clues about that person’s background, experience, strengths, and interests. Use the answers to make connections and eventually build longer, personal, and more meaningful conversations.
This simple effort may not seem like much, but it conveys appreciation, worth, and respect for your new colleagues. Plus, as a result, they’ll want to get to know you, too!
Don’t be a know-it-all! Respect the knowledge and insight that others provide
Recognizing others for their knowledge, ability, and talents can help your new colleagues see you as a peer rather than an outsider or a potential threat. This is also a great way to prevent power struggles, which frequently arise when established team members feel uncertain about the newcomer’s motivations, goals, and position within the practice.
Although it can be difficult to shake the competitive spirit that vet school creates, remember that your new coworkers are a team to collaborate with, not peers vying for the same opportunities or achievements. As such, it’s essential for practice culture and your own success to respect and acknowledge the unique experience and wisdom of those around you—you never know when you might need it!
Lean on the experts: Tap into your team’s experience
Asking for input on a case, assistance with a technical skill, help restraining a fractious cat, or simply where to find the one-inch catheter tape doesn’t make you seem weak—it makes you part of a team. Leaning on others for their expertise, advice, or guidance shows your new coworkers that you are sincere about learning, humble, and willing to take direction.
When you receive expert advice or assistance—no matter how small or how busy you are—don’t forget to show your appreciation by publicly expressing gratitude. If their guidance helped you acquire a new skill or master a difficult concept, your gratitude can have a long-lasting ripple effect. Each time you perform the skill or apply their insights, you’ll recall that “Ah-ha” moment and the person who helped you attain it!
Bring coffee or breakfast for the team
If you haven’t noticed the pattern yet, adding cultural value to your practice is a matter of simple and consistent gestures—not grand displays. One tried-and-true method for boosting morale and supporting your colleagues is, of course, providing sustenance. At the end of a long shift, offer to bring in coffee or breakfast the next morning. For maximum impact, connect with each of your coworkers and take their order in person. The promise of caffeine, carbs, and sugar will not only make you a hero to your battleworn colleagues, but make it easier for everyone to return the next day and do it all over again.
Skill development: Host a wet lab
Once you get a feel for your practice’s workflow and the team’s individual interests and strengths, you’ll notice areas where your own skills and expertise could help others grow. Offer to host a mini wet lab for technicians or assistants to hone their existing skills or develop new ones such as:
- Ear cytology
- Urine sediment analysis
- Skin closures
- Low-stress handling and restraint
These opportunities empower veterinary technicians and assistants and allow you to effectively utilize their skills and talents. This leads to increased trust, respect, job satisfaction, and enhanced workflow efficiency.
If possible, propose a technician or assistant-led wet lab in which the support staff coaches you and potentially other associates through a nursing task that veterinarians rarely perform (e.g., taping an intravenous catheter, positioning a dog for orthopedic X-rays, or performing a dental cleaning). Allowing technicians and assistants to assume the leadership role not only builds confidence but conveys respect and gratitude for the specialized roles they perform every day.
Adding cultural value to your new clinic doesn’t require a lot of time or effort, but it does require intention, authenticity, and a willingness to open yourself up to others. Instead of taking away from your work, these actions enrich it by helping you find your place within the team, build connections that accelerate your learning, and ensure you experience the joy—not frustration—of veterinary medicine.
The transition from veterinary school to practice leaves many new graduates feeling isolated, frustrated, and confused. Ready, Vet, Go Veterinary Mentorship bridges the gap between the classroom and the exam room by equipping new and early career veterinarians with critical skills such as communicating with clients, fitting in with practice culture, how to effectively manage time and increase efficiency, and establishing good financial habits. For more information about our one-of-a-kind mentorship experience, visit the Ready, Vet, Go membership page or get in touch with our team.