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Surviving First-Day Jitters as You begin Your Vet Tech Career

by Cathy Barnette - June 24, 2019 at 2:43 PM
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Whether you’re preparing for your first job as a veterinary technician or beginning an internship as part of your vet tech training, big job changes are often accompanied by some anxiety. 

It’s normal to be nervous when starting a new job… especially when you’re transitioning to a new role within veterinary medicine! Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to calm your nerves and help your first day go smoothly.

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Here are five tips to help you get through your first day on the job as a vet tech:

1. Be prepared

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You’re probably going to be a little anxious on your first day, no matter what. Making sure that you’re as prepared as possible, however, can go a long way towards minimizing some of that anxiety! 

Plan your first-day morning routine in as much detail as possible. Consider the following:

  • Drive your commute beforehand (at the same time and day of the week as your first day on the job, if possible!), so you’ll know how long to allow for traffic.
  • Decide what you’ll eat for breakfast and ensure that you have the necessary groceries. 
  • Lay out your scrubs, shoes, and other work items the night before. 
  • Set your alarm a bit earlier than necessary, to allow plenty of time to get ready for work. 
  • Get to bed early, so you can be well-rested. 

In other words, do everything possible to minimize last-minute chaos and make your morning as calm and stress-free as possible.

2. Review anything that you're worried about remembering at work


If there are certain things that you’re concerned you may not remember (“What if they ask me to calculate a drug dose and I can’t remember how to do it?!”), review those items in the days leading up to your job. 

Consider making a “cheat sheet,” if that would make you feel more comfortable. This could be a folded piece of paper or pocket-sized notebook, containing all of those little facts that you’re worried about forgetting. Even if you never end up needing you actually consult it, knowing that you have this information readily available can help alleviate some of your first-day anxiety.

3. Watch, listen, and ask questions

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Every practice does things slightly differently. You might find that your employer doesn’t do things exactly the way that you learned in school… and that’s okay! Observe closely and ask questions, with the goal of learning how your employer wants things to be done. 

There will come a time and place for you to offer suggestions based on your own training and experience, but your goal during your first few weeks on the job is to focus on observation and learning. As long as your employer isn’t doing anything illegal or unethical, try to “go with the flow” and learn new ways of doing things. 

4. Take notes

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Keep a small notebook with you at work, so that you can take notes during your training. You will probably be given many things to remember during your first few weeks at work, such as usernames/passwords for the time clock, usernames/password for the medical records software, specific protocols used by the practice, standard drug dosages, etc. 

Don’t rely on your memory to keep all of these things straight. Take notes so that you can refer back if you have questions.

5. Be friendly


First impressions are important. Be friendly to everyone that you meet on your first day, including veterinarians, receptionists, and kennel assistants! 

Over time, you may find that you gravitate towards some coworkers more than others. That’s okay, but it’s important to start out with an open mind and be as friendly as possible towards everyone.  

While first-day jitters are a completely normal part of starting a new job, these tips will hopefully help you get through your first days and weeks with minimal stress. Within a month or two, you’ll be part of the team and your nerve-wracking first days as a new vet tech will be nothing but a memory!

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About Cathy Barnette

Cathy Barnette is a practicing small animal veterinarian, freelance writer, and contributor to XPrep Learning Solutions. She is passionate about both veterinary medicine and education, working to provide helpful information to veterinary teams and the general public. In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature with her family and leading a Girl Scout troop.

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