Want to hire a veterinarian? Know what candidates want

by By Stacee Santi, DVM

12 min read

With today’s hiring market, veterinarians can afford to be picky about the jobs they take. They have the ability to job-shop, and compare benefits, schedule flexibility, and practice culture of possible employers. If you are looking to hire a veterinarian — or several — providing the job perks veterinarians are looking for can increase your likelihood of landing a quality candidate. Offer the following to bring candidates to your door, and also set new veterinarians up for long-term success with your practice.

1: Clear team communication

All employees, from veterinarians to assistants, can perform to the best of their ability when they know what’s going on around them. Established protocols for clear communication among your team members will help new veterinarians jump in and learn the ropes more quickly. Daily rounds will ensure all team members are up to date on the status of hospitalized patients, while weekly team meetings can be used to address housekeeping items. Additionally, ensure new veterinary team members know who they can go to with questions or concerns.

2: Dedicated mentorship

New veterinarians in particular are looking for mentorship while they tackle cases on their own for the first time. One-on-one mentorship by a senior veterinarian provides a go-to person for new hires to bounce ideas off, brainstorm differential diagnoses, or simply check that they are on the right track with a case. Having a dedicated mentor takes away much of the anxiety new grads face, and can also help experienced vets fit in with your practice more quickly.

3: Career advancement

Veterinarians are hard-working, driven professionals who want to advance their careers. Instead of stagnating in an associate position for decades, candidates want to see how they will be able to grow in your practice. Map out different avenues for advancement, such as management roles, or potential partnership or ownership possibilities, so candidates can envision a long-term future with you.

4: Skills development

After learning the basics in vet school, veterinarians rely on on-the-job training to hone their medical and surgical skills, so be prepared to show applicants how your practice will help them expand their skill set. Beyond basic mentoring, working one-on-one with a senior veterinarian on tough cases will help new hires gain confidence and knowledge. If other veterinarians at your practice possess advanced skills in areas such as exotics, dentistry, or orthopedic surgery, they can share their knowledge and help new hires develop these skills as well.

5: Continuing education

Veterinarians are lifelong learners, and want to know they will be supported in furthering their knowledge and skills beyond the mentorship you provide. A generous CE budget will show candidates that you encourage their growth and development. Budget for out-of-town travel expenses, instead of expecting your veterinarians to attend the same local conference year after year. Ask your team members to share stories about their own CE experiences, especially if they have traveled to larger conferences or specialty workshops, so candidates can see that you take CE seriously.

6: Dedicated charting time

A schedule packed with back-to-back appointments barely leaves time for lunch, much less finishing medical charts or thinking about challenging cases. Instead of staying late, veterinarians want dedicated time built into the daily schedule to finish SOAPs, prepare treatment plans for hospitalized patients, and research complex medical cases.

Block out time in each veterinarian’s day to complete SOAPs, treatment plans, research, and other tasks to help prevent stress and burnout, and ensure they can leave work on time.

7: A reasonable schedule

Although a 40-hour work week and healthy work-life balance should be the norm, it is becoming the exception in our field. While this is unfortunate, you can use it to your advantage by setting — and sticking to — a reasonable work schedule for your veterinary team. Be prepared to be flexible, since not all applicants will want the same thing. A four-day work week may be attractive to candidates with young children, while longer days may not suit other candidates. When discussing the schedule, mention your PTO plan, which should include paid vacation time, maternity leave and flexible PTO days to cover illnesses, family emergencies, and other unplanned situations.

8: Caring leadership

Veterinarians are ideally looking to enter a long-term relationship with their employer, and they want to work for a practice owner who truly cares about them. If someone other than the practice owner typically conducts job interviews, ensure candidates have an opportunity to spend time with the owner, who should discuss how they will support the candidate professionally and personally. Each serious candidate should also spend time with your veterinary team, who will willingly share their experiences if they feel cared for and supported.

9: Supportive management

A leadership team that cultivates a healthy work environment is more critical than ever. Veterinarians will be looking for a supportive management team that advocates for a healthy work-life balance and a warm, inclusive practice culture. They also want to know that practice managers will help mediate situations with difficult clients, or fire abusive clients who threaten to damage practice morale.

10: Emergency backup

Job-searching veterinarians have the luxury of turning down positions that require after-hours emergency care. Instead of expecting your team to stay late or take after-hours emergency calls, have a protocol to handle emergencies that present close to closing time, or that require care after hours. For example, divert clients who call after 5 p.m. to a local emergency hospital or online service like Guardian Vet or Vetriage. If you live in an area without an emergency veterinary facility, candidates will likely expect to cover some on-call time. However, you can work out a schedule with neighboring practices to cover emergencies on a rotating basis so on-call duty is spread between a larger group of people.

11: Modern technology

Candidates will expect your practice to have modern technology that allows them to quickly and easily communicate with clients. If you still use paper charts and make daily reminder calls, a technology overhaul can make your practice more attractive. Features like automatic reminders, two-way messaging, online appointment scheduling, and charge capture increase efficiency and make a new job much easier.

Having trouble recruiting new talent? Consider how many of these perks your practice might be missing, and how you can implement changes to make your job opening more appealing. With 2-way messaging, appointment management, digital and print reminders, and so much more, Vet2Pet’s client engagement platform can provide the technology top candidates are looking for. Schedule your demo of the Vet2Pet client engagement system to discover how a technology update can help your practice attract qualified veterinary candidates.

Stacee Santi, DVM

Stacee Santi, DVM

Dr. Stacee Santi founded Vet2Pet, the only customizable, all-in-one client engagement system for veterinary practices, which was acquired by Vetsource in 2022. Since earning her DVM from Colorado State University in 1996, Dr. Santi has accumulated more than 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, has spent significant time serving on various industry advisory boards, and served as 2020 president of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. Considered a key opinion leader on mobile applications and veterinary reward programs, and selected as 2021 Continuing Educator of the Year—Practice Management by Viticus Group, Dr. Santi is passionate about helping veterinary practices better connect with their clients so pets get the best care and veterinary professionals enjoy more fulfilling, balanced careers.

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