Are you a people person?

Published On: 5 Feb 2015

Vet talking to owners of dog

Image ©iStock.com/Tashi-Delek

The primary role of any veterinary surgeon is clear: it is to ensure the health and welfare of the animals with which they work. Those interested in working in the industry should clearly be comfortable in working with animals, demonstrating high levels of empathy, patience and sensitivity when working to diagnose or treat animals of all types.

However, being a vet isn't just about working with animals – it's also about working with people.

Those in veterinary jobs may see the animals under their care as their primary concern, but while it's important to work well with animals, it's also important to remember that being a vet is a people business too.

The pet owner

Every day, whether working in general practice or elsewhere, every vet will be dealing with animal owners who are concerned about the welfare of their animals.

In a role such as this, it is important that vets are able not only to accurately assess and treat the animal in question, but are able to communicate with the animal's owner to convey what is going on in a clear, sympathetic, sensitive and patient manner.

Vets will encounter animal owners from all walks of life, who handle the stress of a sick or injured animal in a variety of different ways, highlighting the importance of strong people skills in this role.

Veterinary colleagues

Animal owners aren't the only people with whom a vet will communicate on a normal day, though: they'll also come into contact with co-workers too.

Here, the people skills needed by a vet are very different – again, strong communication skills are key, but also the ability to work well as a team and engage with those working for the same practice.

It is important for veterinary practices to hire only vets they feel will be a strong fit with the team – not only in terms of their qualifications and past work experience, but also in terms of their personalities.

When preparing for a job interview, it is important to bear both aspects of the role in mind, demonstrating your suitability for what is both an animal business and a people business to your potential employer.