Advice > Question


What are tips to grow more confident with my hands on skills when I am learning something new?


1. Read up before you step up

If you’re doing something for the first time, it’s always helpful to read up on the surgery before you attempt it. Just so you get an idea of what your landmarks are, things to avoid, and what the eventual result should be.


2. Have a mentor handy

Ideally a senior veterinary professional should be there in theatre with you. However we all cope with stress differently, and sometimes it’s easier if this mentor is not *right* there. Always make sure you have someone in the same building or just a phone call away. Never do something alone if you don’t feel confident enough to!


3. Make opportunities for yourself

It’s never enough to just learn something once and do it perfectly after! Don’t just do the bare minimum of practical work experience that’s needed of you in vet school. If there’s something you are interested in, or think you’ll need more practice in, go ahead and look for those opportunities.

I saw many more weeks of practice than was needed because I wanted to learn more and get more hands-on experience. The more you do something, the more confident you’ll get and the more confident you are, the more likely your supervising vets are to help elevate your skills!

Starting out as a new graduate was a lot easier because I had done over 20 spays/neuters and learned a lot from other vets on how to consult effectively before day one. Set yourself up for success—you are your own best investment. Good luck and all the best!


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Dr. Vicki Lim is a companion animal veterinarian based in New Zealand. She is founder of The Riptide Project, an international veterinary wellbeing initiative; and co-founder of Living 'Ruff, a veterinary initiative to provide free veterinary care to pets of the homeless in New Zealand. She is a committee member for the Auckland Veterinary Society, and a founding member of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Professional Wellness Group. Vicki has also been invited to speak at international veterinary conferences and schools in Europe and Asia. Apart from her work in a small animal practice which helps to pay for her (unfortunately expensive) travel habit, Vicki is an experienced fosterer and committee member for Retired Working Dogs NZ, a charitable trust which finds loving homes for farm dogs after their years of hard work.





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