4 Guiding Principles for Veterinary Professionals

August 9, 2017


Rebecca Rose with Drew Barrett (now DVM) Pingree Park, CSU August 2010

4 Guiding Principles for Veterinary Professionals: PACE for the lifetime of your veterinary career

Next week I will be at the Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma participating in their first Veterinary Freshmen Orientation. When their Student AVMA President reached out to me, tears welled up in my eyes because of the joy I felt due to the invitation.

Zach wrote that they were planning the first-year orientation for the incoming class of 2021 and that I was their top choice for the keynote speaker!

Overjoyed and honored, that’s me!

For the past couple of weeks, I have been lamenting over the presentation, seeking a way to be impactful and inspirational. The following is a condensed version of what I developed.  Read the complete keynote address here.

PACE for the lifetime of your veterinary career. In your career as a veterinary professional, these key points (professional, accountable, confidence, and empowerment) will support you in all phases, in all communities, and in all aspects of your life. These guiding principles are timeless.


In all of your dealings within school, veterinary hospitals, organized veterinary medicine and life, presenting yourself in a professional manner will serve you well.

What does it mean to be a professional? Who, in your eyes, embodies a professional? Bring the traits and characteristics of that person into your day and career.

The term “respect” rises to the top of the list where respect begets respect. Give and receive respect graciously and with gratitude.

Sometimes you will fall off the “professional” wagon. Remember, it is through personal reflection in tough times and perceived uncomfortable situations that we experience the most personal growth. Professionals are respected by their peers.


When I ask team members, “How many of you would like your co-workers to be more accountable?” Every hand in the room goes up! Then I ask, “How many of you feel you hold yourself accountable?” Once again, all the hands go up. Ironic, isn’t it?

The truth is, accountability begins with you. That can be a hard pill to swallow.

You might fall off the “accountability” wagon. You may catch yourself blaming others or passing the buck. As you become more aware of your actions, celebrate the GOOD and learn from the moments you could have improved upon (without remorse). Look in the mirror, assess your reflection in accountability and let the past go.


You are in veterinary school! Let’s applaud your future!

You have what it takes to BE a veterinarian. You will receive the appropriate education and obtain the proper skills. In addition, you have a LARGE network of support!

Upon graduation, the sky is the limit. Feel confident in your ability to practice veterinary medicine. Trust your education and skills. YOU’VE GOT THIS!

There will be times when you fall off the “confidence” wagon, it happens to everyone. Patty Khuly, VMD, MBA, wrote in her article When Veterinarians Make Mistakes: “The irony of veterinary science is that it’s deeply human. So much so that it perfectly mirrors the many deficiencies, failings and flaws that characterize our hominid experience. It is, by its very nature, shockingly imperfect.”

There will be times you will need to pull yourself back onto your “confidence” wagon. Remember the lesson and let go of the past.


Empowerment is the key to a happy life and success as a veterinarian. Seem a bit counter-intuitive? So how does giving authority to someone else make you happy and a successful veterinarian?

As a student you will be gathering knowledge, viewpoints, skills and tools.  As a veterinarian, empowering others to support you in practicing veterinary medicine is when you and your team will reach the highest potential in serving animals and clients.

Your veterinary team is eager to assist you in being the best veterinarian you can be.

Embrace your education and do “Doctor Things” (diagnose, prescribe, initiate treatment and surgery) and let your team to do the other tasks. Empowerment is based upon the idea that giving veterinary team members skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation and accountability, will contribute to higher levels of competence and career satisfaction for EVERYONE!

When you fall off the “empowerment” wagon, recognize this time of micro-managing, inability to delegate or not allowing others to help you. In these instances, learn from the lesson and let go of the past. Change your behavior and ask your team for assistance; because, together you offer the best veterinary care possible!

You’ve got this! You have made it into veterinary school. You will be graduating as a veterinarian in four years. Please, when you fall off the PACE wagon, simply pick yourself up, brush yourself off, remember the lesson and move forward, again!

Professional, Accountable, Confidence, and Empowerment for the lifetime of your veterinary career!

Yours in veterinary team development,

Rebecca Rose, CVT

CATALYST Veterinary Practice Consultants