Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Finding a niche

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Jan 12, 2009
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Finding a niche

Each year veterinarians are challenged to learn and master new techniques and equipment, keep abreast of new technologies, and continue to offer clients state-of-the-art diagnostics and therapies. In addition, practitioners are faced with ever-increasing competition from neighboring practices, nearby veterinary colleges, recent graduates, and burgeoning specialty practices. Faced with this swelling onslaught, one might expect us to wilt under the strain of such unbridled rivalry. Happily, for most of us, these tests and trials strengthen us, and we seem to flourish with competition.

Recently, a new graduate asked me how she would survive in such a contest; how could she—a young, inexperienced veterinarian—secure a foothold in such a swirling, contentious profession. I told her that I had tremendous confidence in her and that time is the great revealer of where our strengths lie. I told her that with time her path would show itself, based upon her interests, strengths, and passions. We are all different. Thank goodness for that. We all bring something very different to the party. Our interests coupled with our innate strengths and professional experience forge out a niche for us to fill, a niche unlike any other veterinarian’s.

Preprofessional experience, education, postgraduate experience, and our basic DNA all influence what fascinates us. From what I have seen, there is a piece of the pie for everyone. What niche you end up filling reflects your most basic interests and underscores your strengths as a clinician. Water seeks its own level, and generally, we wind up doing what we do best and that which holds our attention. Through hard work, harsh experience, our inner compass, and time, we find our way. We finish buffeted but broken with the unique nature of our niche revealed.

Show young graduates that there is room for all of us, and help them find their niche. Someone helped you.

See you next week, Kev