Podcast #34

Frenchie Puppy excited to learn and work
In the veterinary world hiring a ‘new grad’ is often thought of synonymously of hiring a ‘cheap vet’ or a ‘work in progress’. Some clinics do it because they “want someone they can mould into the vet THEY want as a clinic”- aka want a robot to do what the boss has always done. Some clinics do it because they are “cheap”. Some clinics however, do it because they value new graduates for what they are, amazing resources of knowledge, and workers that are motivated, excited and positive!

The big hint here to bosses/managers when hiring new grads is that you need to LET the new grad be the vet they want to be! You need to foster their growth, and help them reach their potential. Yes, they are work, they often mostly need support and a boost of confidence, but the work that they will give back to you and your clinic is worth it!
5 Tips to Get VALUE out of your New Grad:
ear-phones in the shape of a heart
Listen with open ears to your new grads. The line “We were taught…” is GOLD to your clinic!
Listen to your new grads! When they say 'we were taught...' OPEN your ears! This is gold!

New graduates know a LOT. They know what the latest recommendations are on testing certain conditions. They know the latest drug dosages you should be using (hint hint- your antibiotic dose is likely WAY too low…). Also, they know what is available for clients!
New graduates will not only propel your clinic into the modern era of medicine, but they will cover your clinic legally by knowing what is available to offer clients. Also, they will INCREASE REVENUE because they know what tests and treatments are available.

Medicine is always progressing. This means more tests, more treatments, and extended life-spans for animals. This means MORE MONEY from each pet, not less! If you utilize and capitalize on the progress your new grads are bringing to your clinic, you can increase your revenue potential!
Make the changes in your clinic that your new grads are suggesting! Seems simple right… they why do so many clinics fight their new grads when they make suggestions for change! Just because you always did it one way, DOESN’T MEAN that it’s right, or the best way.

Change your medicine, doses, procedures, to be up to date. This will not only keep your new grad happy (and in your clinic, meaning less money to agencies to fill their spot when they leave), but it will keep them motivated, will motivate your staff, and keep your clients happy because your medicine is up to date! Fighting your new grads on medicine they want to change to be up to date is the BEST way to push them out your door to another clinic.

Your new grads will lack clinical experience. Support them through these stressful times and through the client interaction and practical skill components, and you will be rewarded with their support back to get your clinic's medicine into this century.

Most new graduates lack some technical skills. Their surgery time for a spay might be 45min-1hour instead of 20min, but within a month or two of support their skill will be almost up to yours! They aren’t as ‘clumsy’ as you think they are, they just lack confidence! If you can be a point of confidence, and can give them every opportunity possible then you will see them grow and learn more quickly than you can imagine.

What does this look like? When you have the busy day and the foreign body comes in, instead of dumping your new grad into vaccine appointments, go to the effort to reschedule your day to get that new grad doing that surgery! The sooner they jump into these with support, the sooner they will be independent.

PRIORITIZE training your staff, and your rewards will be 10-fold.

Say you have trained your new grad to do these surgeries in the first month or two, for the rest of that year, and likely the next couple years, when the surgery comes in near closing time that vet who is still super excited about surgery is more likely to stay to cut it than refer it because they don’t feel confident. That’s profit from that surgery in your clinic’s pocket instead of the emergency centre. That’s a happy client. That’s a happy vet. (Just make sure you pay them for staying late!!)
New grads are eager little beavers! Give them tasks (protocols, training support staff, making hand-outs, etc) to show them you trust them, value them, and to get stuff done!

If you show your staff that you trust them, that you VALUE their opinions and thoughts, and give them some responsibility and say in the medicine performed in your clinic, they not only will be way more motivated to do a good job, but they will feel fulfilled professionally and stay in your clinic instead of moving on when they feel stagnant! More stuff done + happier staff + professional growth + better medicine = better clinic! It’s easy math!

play cash register with fake coins
You get what you pay for! If you play around with pennies and cents in your staff’s salary, they will play around at their job. Take them seriously and offer their worth and value, and they will prove to you they are worth it!
Pay your new grads well. You get what you pay for, and not all new grads are created equally... pay well and you will not only have choice of who to hire, but you will KEEP your staff for years! These sounds simple, but honestly, if you offer more than you will get better applicants. Also, you will get a vet that is feeling valued and wants to prove their worth, instead of a vet that feels undervalued and therefore doesn’t care to work hard because they feel ripped off!
Let's Get Personal
When I was graduating there was a clinic that was in a very undesirable town, with 1/4 on call and late hours, open weekends. Not the best clinic in some aspects of location and hours, HOWEVER they were an amazing clinic in terms of medicine, support and progressive nature. Going rate for a new grad on average was $68,000, they were offering $90,000. They were picky, and they had every applicant come out to the clinic for at least 1 week, put us up in a nice hotel, and even paid us at the end of the week for our work. They had surgeries lined up for us from the humane society, taught us to use a laser, and really were supportive. They had at least the top 5 applicants from our class apply, and they hired 2 of them, who are still at that clinic 5 years later! They wanted quality, they paid on the front end, and were picky about who they picked (including looking for someone that was in it for the long haul). And they got it!

Moral of the story: You get what you pay for! If you pay bottom dollar with no incentives, no support, nothing, you will get an applicant that doesn’t care, or doesn’t value themselves enough to demand what they are worth, and that won’t translate to a progressive clinic, good medicine, or value to your clinic.
New graduates are a wealth of knowledge, energy, excitement and drive. They can be a huge revenue boost to your clinic and can keep your clinic up to date. However, if you don’t support them, or fight them on changes, you will have a disgruntled employee that leaves for another clinic! The best ways to get value out of these new grads is to value them right back. LISTEN to them, ENACT CHANGE in your clinic with their ideas, SUPPORT them through the technical and client communication aspects, give them RESPONSIBILITY and for God’s sake PAY THEM WELL! If you do these things you will have a happy, productive, valuable and loyal new graduate, and your clinic will prosper because of it!

If you are a new graduate and aren’t sure how to pick the right clinic, or are in a job where you don’t feel that you are valued, feel free to check out our KICK ASS Consulting . We can help you prepare to talk to your boss to see if you can make the clinic one that will be a good place to work, or discuss with you about whether you need to make changes.

On the other hand, if you are a clinic that is continually losing staff, and can’t keep a vet happy and aren’t sure why, you can check out our KICK ASS Consulting and we can help you try to figure out why, and show you what changes you can make to your clinic to make it desirable for associate vets to work, and stay, in your clinic!
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Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published April 24th, 2020

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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