By NIKHITA PARANDEKAR
Veterinarians who are looking for a job immediately after graduating often face hurdles that are familiar to many young professionals — their lack of experience means that their appointments may take longer, which results in less revenue to the practice, they will need to be mentored along the way and if they’ve gone to vet school straight after college, their apparent youthfulness might make it harder for clients to trust them. That being said, there are several unique assets that young veterinarians can offer potential employees, one of which is their familiarity with the Internet and social media. So this column is formatted in the spirit of that theme as one of those omnipresent Internet lists.
1. Facebook. This has to be the top of the list because it’s generally the first thing that comes to mind when you say “social networking.” While in school, we use it to arrange events, advertise products and share resources. Our intimate familiarity with Facebook makes it so that we can help a practice create or manage their page in a way that will be the most useful to clients by generating the most hits and then be accessed by potential new clients.
2. Google. We know that clients use the Internet to find answers to their problems because that’s what we all do. So we can complain about “Dr. Google” when a client comes in with a stack of printouts from things they found online, but we can also uniquely empathize with them and explain things in a way that maintains their faith in us even when we’re contradicting the Dr. Google.
3. Websites. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or a bottle of wine by its label, depending on the circles you run in), so you really shouldn’t judge a business by its website. But the unfortunate fact of the matter is that many people do exactly that — I can say for sure that if I’m looking for a new place to go to, I’m much more likely to patronize a business with a professional, efficient website than one with an archaic, difficult to navigate one. So young graduates could easily offer tips to optimize the way a practice’s website was perceived by current and potential clients.
4. Client education. Offering talks, seminars and demonstrations is a great way to educate clients and I think that these services are vitally important, but many clients are not able to schedule the time to attend these events. It would be relatively easy for a young veterinarian to create a newsletter or post PowerPoint slides or video and record events and/or short blurbs on certain topics for these clients.
I’m not saying that older practitioners cannot learn these skills and be just as proficient at them as new graduates would be. I’ve seen a good number of practices who are ahead of the game — they’ve hired professionals to design their websites and are active on Facebook. But for every one of these practices, there are at least two that could use some help (I discovered this last year when I was trying to help my mom find a local clinic for her cat). For better or worse, the internet is becoming more and more important in our everyday lives, and as online reviews start to mean much more than word of mouth, I think it will become crucial for veterinary practices to integrate into the world of social media. Hiring new graduates is an easy way for them to keep up with the times — even my friends and classmates who claim to be “bad with technology” are completely proficient at everything on this list. Anyways, isn’t it nice to have someone on staff who can probably figure out that state of the art new machine the practice bought without having to read the manual?