Move your job in the right direction

Move your job in the right direction

Oct 01, 2005

Same crap, different day," is Sarah's usual reply when Ashley asks how she's doing. As she catches up on the surgery logs at the Whereami Veterinary Hospital, Sarah's mind wanders. What happened to those days when everything was new and exciting and she just couldn't wait to get to work?

Sheila Grosdidier
As she starts her car that evening, Sarah thinks, "I am so out of here." All the way home she builds her list of frustrations: "No training, no way to get a raise, nobody listens to anything I have to say, no one tells me what's going on, I never learn anything new, and it'd be nice to go a week without a new employee going to lunch and never coming back. It's time to move on."

Sound familiar? The 2005 Advanstar Veterinary Healthcare Communications (AVHC) Veterinary Team Study shows that many of you list lack of empowerment as one of your top frustrations in practice. And for years, team members have urged practice owners and managers to give them more control. But you don't have to wait for change—unless you've decided to accept feeling disappointed, frustrated, and under-compensated as part of the job description. You have more power than you realize.

Set your course

Arguably, the most damaging assumption you can make about your career is that you work for someone else. OK, you do receive a paycheck, and you report to a boss. But ultimately you make the decisions that put you on the path toward—or away from—success. You're essentially self-employed, and you offer your services and skills to your client, the practice. Embracing this idea takes you from just having a job to having a career. (See "Are You Self-Employed?" below.)

This shift from being just an employee to being a skillful, self-employed entrepreneur is the first step to building a fulfilling career. Successful self-employed people know that to increase their value, they must help grow the business and be true partners in the practice.

Sample job description—Whereami Veterinary Hospital
What do you do that influences the practice's success? If you're not sure, start keeping a monthly list that highlights the things you've done to help build the practice. See "Create a Success Journal" on for inspiration. Once you've finished, take a moment to read your list and feel pride in all that you do.

Ask for directions

The 2005 AVHC Veterinary Team Study also shows that you want feedback about your performance. And that's not unique to veterinary practice. Almost everyone wants more feedback. And you're not alone if you've found that waiting for others to offer input hasn't worked well so far.

So take charge. Solicit the feedback you need to grow and enjoy your position. Start by asking your manager what he or she sees as your strengths. Then ask, "What are three things that I could do to enhance the practice?"