When I took the advice of an acquaintance and answered an ad in the local newspaper for a veterinary receptionist, I could
never have imagined the fantastic journey I'd embarked on. Fifteen years later, while my main duties are still reception,
I've observed, experienced and soaked up as much knowledge as possible, trying to make myself an indispensable employee. Here
are just a few ways you can help grow your career:
1 Master the basics
A great career begins with a strong foundation. I was fortunate to have a couple of really great trainers who started me off
on the right foot. Mastering the basic skill set for your position is like learning a new language—it takes time and repetition.
By practicing those skills every day, the basics soon become second nature. Consistently performing basic skills well shows
your teammates and supervisors that you are a dependable, reliable and trustworthy employee.
2 Ask lots of questions
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's helped me become a well-rounded employee. Strive to learn as much as you can,
not just about your position, but your teammates as well. A broad knowledge base helps you see the bigger picture of clients,
patients, practice life and veterinary medicine.
3 Be flexible
Be open to change and changing roles within the practice. Change is necessary for businesses and employees to thrive. The
better you're able to adapt to change, the greater your chances of success.
4 Don't be afraid to make mistakes
Let's face it, nobody's perfect. Mistakes can be pretty embarrassing, but they can also show gaps in training and create great
opportunities. My first appearance in Firstline was a letter to the editor about what an idiot I was for missing my cat's quite obvious hyperthyroid symptoms. Acknowledging
my mistake opened new doors and opportunities to help clients and patients.
5 Find your niche
I've learned that you can make a difference in the lives of clients and patients, no matter what your role in practice. Have
a special interest or skill? Run with it. Sometimes the coolest opportunities are the ones we create for ourselves. For example,
my passion for writing—and team building—led me to create and write The Buzz newsletter for my practice for several years. You can see a copy of the newsletter at http://dvm360.com/thebuzz. Extend yourself and see how far you can reach.
Jennifer Graham is the client services team leader at Bradford Hills Veterinary Hospital in Wexford, Pa.