In Veterinary School, future veterinarians are taught the “Hard Skills” of Veterinary Medicine. The anatomy and physiology of animals, surgery techniques, how to diagnose, how to restrain an animal, how to do a thorough physical examination.

But the other Skill Set, Soft Skills, now being referred to as the “Essential Skills”, are just as important in the practice of high-quality veterinary medicine. Examples of Essential skills are your attitude, how you interact with your team, your dialogue with the client, your tone of voice, choice of words, your body language, your compassion, integrity, your listening skills.

As a Business and Executive Coach in the Veterinary Industry, I listen daily to the challenges facing veterinarians and veterinary professionals.  Communication, or lack of, is key. Conflict Management is often mentioned. Many practices fall into the conflict avoidance or conflict intolerance category. They ignore the conflict and hope that it goes away. Negative and toxic behavior is a constant struggle.

Veterinary practices want a healthy, nurturing culture that allows each person to be their best, so they can be their best for each other and ultimately, do their best work for the clients and animals that they serve.

Here are the top 3 essential skills that, if adopted, will make a huge change in your success and excellence in veterinary medicine.

  1. Check your energy at the door – We all “show up” each morning for work with our “stuff”. Something in your personal life that you may be dealing with, an argument you just had with your spouse, a medical issue, etc. Take a few minutes each morning, before you get out of your car to head into the practice and ask yourself, “What is the energy that I’m bringing into this space? Is it negative? Am I angry? Am I frustrated?” The energy that you bring into that space can set the tone for the day. You want to bring positive energy to work with you each day.
  2. Be a team player, each day, every day – Veterinary Medicine can be a high stress, emotional environment. All the more reason why each and every day it’s important to function as part of a well-oiled machine. See yourself as essential to the team. Do your part and do it well. I often use the analogy of a boat when describing a high performing team. The vision for the practice is on the horizon. Everyone on the team needs to be on board, in the boat, in their seats, picking up their oars and rowing in unison to reach that desired vision.
  3. Earn and give Respect – Respect is a huge core value in my life. My top three core values are Respect, Integrity, and Peace. Core values are words that describe how we behave, how we make decisions, how we treat each other and how we conduct business.

    Respect is crucial to employee engagement, creating efficiencies, productivity, and employee retention and achieving a healthy, happy culture.
    Ask yourself how you demonstrate respect? Are your actions deserving of respect?

Practice and adopt these 3 essential skills and watch how it will significantly shift your veterinary practice to a place of Excellence.