March 3, 2021 | Vet Student | Vet Graduate

Here at Prospect Health we know how daunting to start in week one of your first Vet job. With our series of ‘Confessions of a New Graduate Vet’ we hope to offer some support and advice for those newly qualified vets moving into the workplace and navigating their way through their first year… 

“I’ve forgotten everything”….these were my thoughts the night before starting day one of my first job as a fully-fledged veterinary surgeon. I have the title ‘Dr’, some letters after my name and I’m on the register of veterinary surgeons, so why do I feel like such a fraud?

Apparently these thoughts are extremely common in new graduate vets. The transition from student to vet is a very daunting one and speaking to my fellow new grad friends, we all feel exactly the same. I have had to remind myself of this all week!!!!

Having heard about the horror stories of being left on sole charge and having no back up for on-calls, I decided to join a Graduate Scheme which promises lots of support and structure.

Despite being a bag of nerves as I drove into work, I was soon put at ease when greeted by my smiley colleagues who all made a big effort to make me feel welcome. It was very strange introducing myself as “the new vet”. Another weird feeling was having nurses come and ask me if it was okay to do things and how I wanted to do them. The decisions were up to me now!! Receptionists would ask me to check prescriptions or sign paperwork and all of a sudden it dawned on me how careful I would have to be with what I signed off!!! Definitely make sure you know the laws around medication and the practice policies so that you don’t end up in trouble.

I spent the morning shadowing one of the vets in her consults. A cockatiel flying at my face twice was a particular highlight of the morning. I have quickly regretted expressing an interest in exotics, that’s for sure! The aim of shadowing was to learn the computer systems which can be one of the main stresses of starting at a new veterinary practice. It’s hard enough trying to consult without having to desperately attempt to navigate your way around a new system!

As well as spending time with the other vets, I spent time with the nurses and receptionists to get an understanding of their roles. Reception was probably the scariest but it makes you appreciate what receptionists go through and I also picked up a few more tips for using the computers! Speaking to clients on the phone is a huge part of your job so it was a good way to start.

I have just been doing vaccination consults so far which has been a good way to introduce myself to the clients. I did feel a bit nervous because of course you have to ask if the owners have any other concerns about their animal and you worry they’ll ask you something you don’t know! The beauty of small animal practice is that you can always make an excuse to nip out the back and ask someone or frantically search through a book!

My first surgery was a dog castrate which all went well in the op but I couldn’t help but worry about it when I got home. Were my ligatures good enough? Was my tissue handling okay or will the animal be bruised and sore? Luckily it came back a few days later for a post-op check and all was well! I think things like surgery are going to take time to gain confidence with. And so it should; it’s a big deal and not something we should be complacent about. A vet once told me that if I didn’t feel any stress in my job then I wasn’t being conscientious enough. That being said, you can’t be too hard on yourself and be sure to recognise the things you’ve achieved each day!

When I drive home from work I always reflect on my day; what I did well, what I could have done better and how I’ll achieve that.

Yes, the first week is a steep learning curve, but with the right people around you, it’s actually not that scary! You really need to put faith in yourself, because believe it or not, those five years at vet school weren’t for nothing.

If you’re a newly qualified vet and are looking for your first role but not sure where to start, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our specialist Vet Team are available and you can contact them on 01423 813 453 or

March 3, 2021 | Vet Student | Vet Graduate