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When job hunting, you may be wondering what skills you need to make a point of highlighting to make you a better candidate and what is less important to focus on. These are a few of the soft skills you need to know to help you stand out among the people you are competing against for the job. Keep in mind, soft skills are about how you interact with others, they are also known as "people skills." Hard skills are quantifiable and teachable; the knowledge you obtained during veterinary school is a good example of hard skills. Communication One of the most important skills in life, both personally and professionally, is communication. Miscommunication can be disastrous in the workplace; a single miscommunication can completely derail projects or lead to a valued employee quitting. Being proficient in verbal communication is great, but non-verbal communication — especially written — is vital. Having skills in all forms of communication can make you stand out among other applicants for a job. Putting complex information into simple terms that are easier to understand can be difficult, but it is another part of communication that is important to a vet; this includes having the ability to explain to a pet owner how to properly administer treatment to their animal. Having good communication skills is also important as a vet because you need to be able to clearly explain sensitive situations, like a pet needing chemotherapy, or discussing euthanasia. When working with animals, non-verbal communication is especially important since they cannot just tell you what they are feeling. Accurately interpreting body language and facial expressions, and responding with the right body language, in turn, is really the main way you can communicate with your patients, so having a deep understanding of communication is one of the most important skills you can have in the veterinarian profession. Time Management Another important skill in any professional is time management. The ability to maximize your time to get more done in less time is valuable among employers. This also helps you to see more patients in a single day and lets you determine how much time you need to spend with each patient to give them the care they need without feeling rushed. It is important to keep in mind that just because you are doing everything on your to-do list every day, rushing through all of your tasks just to get them done well. Managing your time well means that you are not just getting everything done, but that you are getting it all done properly too. Rushing through everything just to finish off your list can lead to mistakes, which can sometimes come with consequences. Observation When working as a veterinarian, you need to be observant so you can assess situations quickly. In a veterinarian job, it is important to be able to make determinations through observation like patient symptoms and behavior, diagnostic images, and microscopic analyses; observation is also needed to determine if a patient is showing signs of aggression, fear, or other behavior that may be dangerous or help indicate whatever is afflicting the patient.
A relief veterinarian is someone who steps in at a clinic that is understaffed, allowing them to remain open and not need to cancel or cut back on appointments. Whether this is because another vet in the clinic had an emergency or someone is going on vacation, they are there to fill the void. Here are some important things to keep in mind when becoming a relief veterinarian. It is important to note that a relief vet is an independent contractor, not a temporary or occasional employee. There is a lot that goes into that distinction legally, but the main point is that they are self-employed, and simply working with a clinic through a contract; whereas an occasional employee is an employee, so they will have to be provided with health insurance and other benefits. Adaptability Working as a relief vet means you get to work in a lot of different clinics, varying in sizes and specialties. While this can be great for someone who does not enjoy working in the same place every day, being stuck in the same routine with little to break it up, you also need to have more flexibility than most people. Every clinic is different; they all have their own expectations, procedure, and culture, and you will need to be prepared to adapt accordingly. Flexibility is a key component in your work as a relief vet, so you need to think quickly and be able to adapt yourself to each new job quickly. Note Keeping When working as a relief veterinarian, it is important that you maintain perfect records, because without them you could end up leaving some confusion over treatment plans or other important notes once you have left. Everything needs to be fully detailed and explained so that the staff at the hospital are clear on what treatment was provided and the desired results of it when the animal comes back later. Another important thing to keep in mind with your notes as a relief vet is to practice good handwriting. It is one thing for a full-time doctor at an animal hospital to have poor penmanship; if there is a question, it can be asked and answered right away. This is not the case with relief vets, and often there is not time to wait for a response. If poor notes are frequently left, the clinic may opt to hire a different relief veterinarian who leaves better notes. Reliability As a relief veterinarian, you must be completely reliable, so running late for your shift or calling in sick are not really an option. Unless you have a truly serious emergency, it is important that you never back out of a job or try to take a day off when you are in the middle of one. Since you are not their employee, you need to make yourself completely reliable to keep working with that hospital. However, because you are a relief vet, you can tailor your schedule to suit you. If you need to take a month off, you can easily do so; if you cannot work on Wednesday nights, you can tell whatever clinic you are working for that you are not available. You can end up with a much more flexible schedule as a relief vet, but you will often be called in on short notice and potentially asked to work odd hours. Relief vets are often asked to work weekends and evenings, and during holidays. 
Employee turnover can be an issue in any veterinary practice but having a high turnover rate in your clinic can be bad for your practice. If you are losing employees who were not contributing much to the practice, it may not seem like a big deal if you have a turnover rate with them, but you should wonder what made you hire those employees in the first place. If you are losing employees who were valuable to your practice, you should also be asking what caused them to leave. Ask for Employee Feedback Giving your current employees an anonymous questionnaire to fill out at semi-regular intervals to find out if there is anything that they think you should be doing differently. Hearing this feedback may be difficult for you, if it is bad, but it can give you insights into how your staff feel . Conduct Exit Interviews Many companies do not conduct exit interviews; the employee leaves and that is the end of it. In at-will employment states, this can be especially true, because neither the employee or employer are required to give reasons for the employee leaving the company. You can make this as involved as you want, whether it is just asking someone to fill out a questionnaire or taking the time to sit down and discuss with them their reason for leaving. While it may not be fun to hear why a disgruntled employee is leaving, it can help you determine what you need to do to retain employees. Even if you did not feel they contributed to the team, you may learn that there was an underlying reason for that within your company culture that needs addressing.  Tips to Retain Employees One thing to look at when you find yourself losing employees is what your salary and benefits are. Are you offering a competitive wage and good benefits? Research other veterinary clinics in your area to see what they are offering for starting pay in similar positions. You could potentially be losing employees because they want better pay and benefits. Advancement opportunities are another big factor in why you may be losing employees. People want to be able to advance their careers, and if you do not offer opportunities to do so, eventually you will lose employees to clinics that do offer advancement. They will be much more invested in your clinic if they see it as their career instead of as a job. Offering a formal training program may help with employee retention too. A new employee may also be feeling overwhelmed if they do not receive training in the standard procedures for your clinic. Taking the time to make sure they know what is expected of them can be a great way to help keep you from losing employees. To help with this, try to foster a team atmosphere; it can help make a new employee who feels a little lost or overwhelmed like they can approach their coworkers with any questions or concerns they have
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