Power of New Blood

New graduates can help invigorate a veterinary practice.
New graduates can help invigorate a veterinary practice.
(File Photo)

As we progress in our careers, it is all too easy to forget the challenges we faced early in practice. “Aging” into practice slowly strips us of the traits that helped us gain our unique set of veterinary skills. Researchers Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld describe these traits well in their book, The Triple Package.

In The Triple Package, Chua and Rubenfeld argue that the traits of superiority, insecurity and impulse control are the primary drivers of disproportionate success within America’s rising cultural groups. Arguably, the following traits are also traits that most graduating veterinarians would be able to identify with: 

1. A sense of superiority over their academic accomplishments as well as becoming part of a very small minority who has received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.  
2. A deep-seated feeling of insecurity that what they know might not be enough to accomplish what they need to in their careers.  
3. A powerful control over their impulses to give up and move on, also known as “grit.”

Yet, as we progress in our careers, we begin to erode the innate advantage these three synergistic traits give us.  

The Experience Disadvantage
Often experienced practitioners are looked up to as pillars in the community and for good reason. Their seasoned experience, ownership and mentorship will set the direction for a practice. However, a Triple Package shortcoming can also just as easily stunt a practice’s growth.

As our careers progress, some practitioners will develop dangerously inflated superiority complexes thinking that they have begun to master this trade, while others will see their feelings of superiority deteriorate as negative client or case interactions erode these feelings. No matter the direction, the degradation of appropriate levels of superiority leads to decreases in hard work and increases in contempt for the career.

Many graduates express varying levels of impostor syndrome, or a manifestation of feelings of inferiority. However, when these feelings are appropriately recognized and attacked they become a conduit for innovation and growth for the individual -- compelling the practitioner to learn, create and grow in ways that push their personal development.  As the practitioner ages, these feelings decrease and are replaced with ever increasing feelings of superiority and a false sense of mastery -- which has the potential to stunt career growth and reduce the synergistic power of the Triple Package.

Impulse Control
The “grit” that was hard earned through vet school slowly deteriorates as practitioners become more comfortable with their accumulated knowledge, financial security and status. The loss of grit means they are less likely to take on new challenges or push through difficult growth obstacles.  

Often, experienced vets consider hiring new graduates less than ideal due to their mentality of having to “start over.”  But this is exactly what experienced vets need to do if they want to keep their practice healthy and growing.

The Associate Advantage
While experienced practitioners can be great mentors to new graduates, there is much these new graduates can do to revitalize their mentor’s own innate Triple Package traits.

A new graduate can bring back a sense of superiority at the practice by re-energizing the fight to stay cutting edge, improve client relations and modernize management. They can manifest a new, higher bar of excellence that may have been relaxed as ownership became more comfortable over time.

New graduates challenge an established practice by forcing them to go back to basics. By having to educate their new vet at a baseline level, addressing the inferiority of their current knowledge, practices are forced to review and update protocols. Additionally, a new vet will routinely look up information and learn at an intensive level in their first years, naturally challenging the “We’ve always done it this way,” mentality.  

Impulse Control
A new graduate can bring in passion for the journey. These individuals are used to long hours of studying and in combination with their feelings of superiority and inferiority will be seeking to make a niche for themselves. As a manager, allowing them to chase meaningful work and providing them with time, money, and mentorship will allow them to achieve their goals and manifest remarkable changes within a practice.

Where do we start?
Beginning is the hardest part. Many practitioners are jaded at the prospect of educating, conforming to, or otherwise altering their practice to make way for a freshly graduated veterinarian. However, by educating ourselves on the associate advantage and manifesting a modern management plan, we can begin to create an environment that is conducive to the mutual growth of both the individual and the practice.



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