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How to be a Superhero in Your Career in Veterinary Practice

John Sheridan - 09/02/2015

How to be a Superhero in Your Career in Veterinary Practice

You don’t need me to tell you that far too many veterinary practices are struggling, with reports from around the English speaking veterinary world about a drop in client numbers, shrinking profits and veterinary earnings reported to be lower than the income of several other professional groups. All this at a time when there are more vet schools, more graduates, more competition, more regulation, increasing graduate debt, more stress and inadequate veterinary salaries.

The 2014 RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Profession reports that more than 75% of vets working within the profession in the UK are employed in practice. A significant proportion of new graduates leave their first job within the first few months and the survey indicated that nearly one in ten indicated that they are planning to leave the profession for reasons other than retirement, either as soon as possible or within the next one to five years. The reasons given included dissatisfaction with veterinary work, working hours, stress, being ‘fed up with the way the veterinary profession is going’ and not feeling that their work is adequately rewarded or valued.

Here in the UK, many graduates who have embarked on a career in practice in the last few years are feeling frustrated, angry and concerned about their future. They planned to be successful clinicians, working in a busy practice, with a boss and professional colleagues they could respect and who would respect them. They wanted an opportunity to develop their professional skills, caring for animals, looking after clients and enjoying a comfortable work/lifestyle balance. They acknowledged the professions self-imposed 24/7 obligations and hoped that their own out-of-hours responsibilities would be reasonable, to enable them to enjoy an acceptable balance between work and leisure. They wanted to work in modern facilities, with modern equipment, a good choice of drugs, consumables and other products. They were looking for support for clinical issues and for all their non-clinical responsibilities such as communicating effectively with clients, business procedures, fees, charges, the computer, the PMS software and all the other tricky stuff.

Oh – and I’m sure they were looking for a realistic income and other terms of employment which would enable them to service any debt, live in reasonable comfort and begin to enjoy a lifestyle comparable to graduates in other learned and caring professions.

The reality however, is that too many recent graduates report that they receive little or no support from the practice, they’re worried about communicating with clients who don’t always accept their advice, they think they’re working too long and too hard and their income is nowhere near what they think they are worth.

It seems to me then, that for any individual graduate seeking a career in practice, a number of questions arise.

First – were the expectations I’ve outlined, realistic? 

Of course they were and although life was much simpler and far less sophisticated when I graduated, I think that they were similar to what I was looking for in my first job more than 50 years ago.

Second - How did it work out for you?

After a few months in your first job, how did the reality compare with your aspirations and expectations?

If there wasn’t a reasonable match between what you hoped for and what actually happened, then you might need to ask two more questions:

‘Why’? and ‘What could you, or should you, do about it’?

Perhaps the first thing to recognise is that if the job hasn’t worked out well for you, it hasn’t worked out well either, for your boss, the other practice team members, your clients or for the whole practice.

What can be done to resolve a growing problem?

Recent graduates frustrated with their chosen profession, is just one of the many problems facing the practising arm of the profession worldwide. It’s a problem too, which has to be addressed by all of the stakeholders who have an interest in the business of veterinary practice.

Practice owners and managers have at their disposal a wide range of organisations, consultants, articles, books, webcasts, webinars, professional advisers, business tools and other CPD opportunities.There seems to be a shortage however of non-clinical support resources specifically designed for recent graduates and for students planning a career in practice, telling them how to take control of their practice career, with clients queuing up to seek and follow their advice, supportive colleagues, a smiling boss and a salary which reflects their value to the practice  – all without compromising their professional standards and values.


How to be a Superhero in your career in veterinary practice is a brand new series of online videos, designed to do all of that – and more.

Take the first step to achieve all that you want to achieve in your practice career by viewing Your Career in Veterinary Practice’ - the first video in the series.

It’s available online now – at this link:


This article was provided by John Sheridan who runs the Veterinary Business Video Show.  John has put together a series of 5 informative videos to help you get the salary you deserve.  If you want to know how to maximise your return to the practice and therefore command the salary you deserve, then these videos are a worthwhile investment.  You may even be able to get your boss to pay for it as CPD. 

We have arranged for a reduced rate of just £75 for the five videos for members.  CLICK on the link below to sign up now.

 CLICK HERE to Sign up NOW

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