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The Four Stages Of Learning & Growth

A man stacking building blocks representing learning and growth.

In veterinary medicine, the retention rate can be low; however, there is a simple framework of four phases that can help you understand the stages of growth and why at some stages people are more likely to drop out.

The four phases of learning and growth start from graduation and end with you being an amazing veterinarian.

So let's look at what they are.

Stage 1: Optimist

The optimist stage occurs when you are fresh out of university. At this stage, you’re a graduate who is excited about your future career as a veterinarian; however, this can quickly change when you get into practice. Starting work in a practice can be daunting and the sudden realization of how little university prepared you and how few skills you have other than ‘book knowledge’ may hit. Falling out of stage one may be one of the first failures you have to deal with independently, without a tutor or teacher to pick you back up.

This is when you begin to move into ‘the trough of sorrow’.

Stage 2: Depressionist

In the trough of sorrow, also named ‘the depressionist stage’, your happiness level will significantly decrease and leave you feeling like an imposter and wondering if you still love the profession.

The job you choose can determine how easy it is for you to get out of this stage, depending on the support they give you.

To progress through Stage 2 you need:

  • Tools - finding the right tools can help you get back on track.

  • Mindset - having a positive attitude and the ability to know you are good enough can help you move past this stage.

  • Support - having the support from mentors and colleagues can help ‘piggyback’ you into stage 3.

Although this stage is tough and can leave you feeling inadequate if you stick it out for long enough and use the right tools, have a good mindset, and support from mentors, you will pull back up into stage 3 - the grafter territory.

Stage 3 - Grafter

Moving forward from stage 2 will be the most difficult transition, but it will lead you into stage three the ‘grafter’.

In this stage, you will work hard to gradually become more confident and self-aware. As a ‘grafter’ you will gradually see yourself become happier again. Until you reach the final phase of learning and growth.

Stage 4 - Champ/Winner

Sticking through all of these stages will lead you to the ‘winner stage’. In this stage, you will have the self-confidence to realize you deserve the title you have. As a winner, you will feel happier as you will be meeting your own needs and the needs of your clients and animals. Due to this, you will feel love from your team who will respect you for being able to do more aspects of the job, and your clients who will respect you for doing the job more effectively. It’s not until this stage that you become an ‘amazing vet’.

In each category, something different is happening in your psychology and you will have to learn to do an array of things. Progress and growth are tough, but highly rewarding if you stick it out and find your way through.

If this article was helpful to you, why not join our 'So You're a Vet, Now What?' course - and get lifetime access to resources that will help you build a successful and sustainable career.

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