5 Key Personality Traits of a Successful Veterinarian
- Skilled Communicator
- Problem Solver
- Decision Maker
A person who is considering a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree should know about the top five characteristics of a veterinarian. Certain personality traits help increase a person’s chances of personal and professional success in the field of veterinary medicine. While each of these traits usually comes naturally to an individual, some of them can be honed or practiced over time.
A veterinarian will routinely meet with animal breeders, farmers and pet owners who are worried, stressed or distraught over their animal’s condition. The veterinarian will need to be sensitive when dealing with the emotions of the owner, especially in cases where the animal is severely ill or injured and when euthanasia is necessary. Veterinarians should also treat animals with respect, regardless of whether the animal is someone’s pet, livestock or a wild animal rescued by a concerned individual.
Veterinarians should have plenty of manual dexterity. They may need to hold animals that are uncooperative, frightened or angry. When treating an injured animal or making a physical assessment of an animal’s condition, they need to be careful in how they move their hands. When performing a surgical treatment, the veterinarian must be precise in their movements and aware of where their hands and fingers are during the procedure.
3. Skilled Communicator
A veterinarian should excel at providing instructions and direction to their staff, including technicians, laboratory specialists, phlebotomists and administrative team members. When a veterinarian has to explain an animal’s condition to an owner, they should be able to do so in a way that a person who does not have a degree in veterinary medicine can understand. The veterinarian should be able to provide clear and concise oral and written directions for owners to care for their animal after leaving the veterinary clinic or after the veterinarian leaves the owner’s property.
4. Problem Solver
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, another important characteristic of a veterinarian is problem-solving abilities. The veterinarian has to perform a physical examination and order the right laboratory or imaging tests to find out what is wrong with an animal. An animal cannot tell the veterinary doctor what the problem is, and the owners may only be able to describe a difference in behavior. The veterinarians who do clinical research should be skilled at identifying and diagnosing symptoms, behavioral changes and other causes for concern.
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5. Decision Maker
When an animal is severely injured or seriously ill, a veterinarian has to make a fast decision that is based on objective information. Even in routine injuries and illnesses, they have to make the right decision on how to treat the animal. In some cases, an animal owner may argue with the veterinarian about the treatment plan or recommended course of action. The veterinarian should be able to use evidence-based medicine to defend their recommendation and decision.
These are not the only important characteristics of a veterinarian, but they are essential to doing well in the profession and feeling a strong sense of satisfaction with the work. These characteristics are important across all types of veterinary medicine, including veterinarians who primarily work in research or teaching jobs as well as those who have their practice caring for small domestic animals or who work at a wildlife center. Understanding these five characteristics of a veterinarian could facilitate a decision of whether or not to choose this profession as a future career.