Over the last several months, I have seen so much written on what a new associate veterinarian hire is seeking in their next position- now we ask employers their thoughts!

The field of veterinary medicine is a challenging yet rewarding one for all of us, and the success of a veterinary practice depends greatly on the skill and dedication of its team of DVMs and professional support staff. When veterinary employers are on the hunt for a new associate, they are not just looking for someone with a degree and a license; they are seeking a well-rounded professional who can contribute to the practice’s success. In this article, we will explore what veterinary employers truly want from a new hire.

Clinical Competence

First and foremost, veterinary employers seek candidates who possess strong clinical skills. This includes the ability to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions, perform surgeries with precision, and provide excellent preventive care. A veterinarian must be competent and confident in their abilities to ensure the well-being of the animals under their care or being receptive to mentorship, know when to ask for assistance and be committed to their personal growth in their career.


While new graduates are certainly considered, practices often prefer candidates with clinical experience, both prior to and post graduation from veterinary school. Practical experience in a clinical setting demonstrates the ability to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world situations. This experience can also lead to increased confidence and efficiency in handling their cases more effectively. Prior experience can also enhance the candidate’s ability to converse with owners and present treatment plans and outcomes .

Specializations or Interests

Veterinary practices may have specific needs or niches that they are looking to fill. Therefore, employers appreciate candidates who have specialized skills or a strong interest in particular areas of veterinary medicine. Whether it’s small animal medicine, large animal care, exotic species, surgery, or any other specialization, having expertise in a specific area can be a valuable asset to a practice.


The field of veterinary medicine is in a constant state of evolution, driven by ongoing advancements in medical science and technology. Employers actively seek associates who exhibit adaptability and a readiness to remain up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry. The willingness to embrace new techniques and treatments is paramount for ensuring the highest level of patient care. Moreover, adaptability is essential in a world marked by unforeseen challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly impacted veterinary clinics, and the ever-changing employment landscape that has placed additional demands on DVMs by creating difficulties in finding associates and support staff.

Interpersonal Skills

Veterinarians often work closely with pet owners and their beloved animals. Strong interpersonal skills are crucial for building trust with clients, explaining diagnoses and treatment options, and providing emotional support during challenging times. Compassion, empathy, and effective communication are highly valued qualities in a veterinary associate.

Team Player

Veterinary practices operate as a team, and employers look for candidates who can collaborate effectively with colleagues, veterinary technicians, and support staff. A willingness to share knowledge, offer assistance, and work together toward the common goal of providing excellent patient care is vital.


Professionalism encompasses a range of qualities, including punctuality, reliability, integrity, and a commitment to ethical practice. Employers expect associates to uphold the highest ethical standards, maintain confidentiality, and act in the best interests of both the patients and the practice.

Cultural Fit

Every veterinary practice has its own unique culture and values. Employers seek candidates who align with the practice’s culture and can contribute positively to the work environment. A good cultural fit ensures a harmonious and productive team.

In the competitive field of veterinary medicine, employers are looking for more than just qualifications on paper. They want well-rounded professionals who possess clinical competence, practical experience, adaptability, strong interpersonal skills, and a commitment to ethical practice. Being a team player who fits seamlessly into the practice’s culture is also highly valued. Aspiring veterinary associates who embody these qualities are more likely to find success in their job search and make valuable contributions to the practices they join.

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