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Hiring a Veterinarian: Job Description Template

By Agwaonye Samuel


Are you a veterinary practice owner or manager seeking to enhance your clinic’s quality of care and service? One of the most important decisions you can make is hiring the right veterinarian; a catchy job description is needed.

Whether you run a small animal clinic or a bustling veterinary hospital, read on to discover the key steps to make an informed choice for this essential position.

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Responsibilities & Role of a Veterinarian

A veterinarian plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and well-being of animals under their care. Here are the key roles and responsibilities of a veterinarian you need to understand before kickstarting the hiring process:

  • Animal Health Care: Your veterinarians will be responsible for diagnosing and treating medical conditions in animals. This includes performing surgeries, administering medications, and providing preventive care such as vaccinations.
  • Patient Communication: The person in this role will interact with pet owners to explain diagnoses and treatment plans and provide guidance on pet care. Effective communication skills are vital to build trust and ensure pet owners understand their pets’ health.
  • Surgical Procedures: Performing various surgical procedures, including spaying, neutering, and orthopedic surgeries, will be their responsibility. They must possess the necessary surgical skills and knowledge of anesthesia.
  • Diagnosis and Testing: The person must know how to use diagnostic tools such as X-rays, ultrasounds, and blood tests to identify illnesses and injuries accurately.
  • Prescription and Medication Management: The veterinarian will prescribe and administer medications to ensure pets receive appropriate treatment.
  • Emergency Care and Record Keeping: Your veterinarian will handle emergency cases, providing immediate medical attention to animals in critical condition. They will maintain detailed records of patient histories, diagnoses, treatments, and follow-up care.

How to Hire a Veterinarian

Follow these steps to hire a veterinarian who will excel in providing compassionate care to animals and maintain the reputation of your veterinary practice:

1. Know Your Veterinarian Requirements

Begin by clearly defining the scope and responsibilities of the veterinarian’s role within your veterinary practice. Consider these factors: 

  • The specific responsibilities and tasks of the veterinarian.
  • The qualifications, skills, and attributes.
  • Specific work hours, shifts, and potential weekend or on-call responsibilities.
  • The level of patient interaction and pet-owner communication.

Clearly defining these expectations will enable you to create a compelling job description and align your recruitment efforts with your specific needs.

2. Search for Top Talent

To attract the best candidates for your veterinarian position, utilize multiple sourcing channels effectively:

  • Online Job Boards: Post your veterinarian job opening on specialized platforms such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Career Center, VetMed Careers, Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society (VECCS), Veterinary Jobs Marketplace or Craft a detailed job description to increase visibility.
  • Employee Referrals: Implement an employee referral program by leveraging your current veterinary staff’s network. Encourage your team to recommend qualified candidates and offer incentives for successful referrals.
  • Veterinary Associations: Collaborate with local and national veterinary associations, such as the AVMA or state veterinary medical associations. These organizations often have job boards and resources for recruiting veterinary professionals.
  • Recruitment Agencies: Consider partnering with veterinary staffing agencies like VetProCentral, Vetco Solutions, or VetCor to identify and assess qualified candidates more efficiently.
  • Educational Institutions: Connect with local veterinary schools and colleges offering veterinary medicine programs. Professors and career counselors can help you reach students and alumni interested in veterinary positions.

3. Look for Educational Qualifications

Educational qualifications are a critical aspect of hiring a veterinarian. While specific requirements may vary, consider the following common educational qualifications:

When evaluating educational qualifications, consider how well they align with the specific needs of your veterinary practice and the role’s responsibilities.

4. Analyze Their Work Experience

Evaluating candidates’ work experience is crucial to ensure they have the relevant skills and background to excel in the veterinarian role.

Focus on the following when reviewing a candidate’s work history:

  • Assess the candidate’s experience in clinical settings, emphasizing roles related to veterinary medicine. Look for roles where they handled various cases, including medical and surgical procedures. For positions requiring surgical expertise, examine the candidate’s surgical experience, including the types of surgeries they’ve performed and their proficiency in anesthesia management.
  • Evaluate their ability to communicate effectively with pet owners, colleagues, and support staff. Strong communication skills are essential for building rapport and explaining treatment plans.
  • If your practice deals with emergencies, consider candidates with experience in emergency medicine and critical care. This background is vital for handling urgent cases.

5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process

Interviews are valuable to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications, personality, and alignment with your practice’s values.

Here’s how you can conduct an effective interview process with this blueprint:

  • Conduct structured interviews with a panel of interviewers, each focusing on specific aspects of the role. Topics to cover include clinical skills, communication, surgical proficiency, and ethical considerations.
  • Present candidates with hypothetical cases or scenarios they might encounter in your practice. Ask how they would diagnose and treat the cases to assess their clinical reasoning.
  • Discuss your practice’s culture and values to ensure the candidate aligns with your team’s ethos. Compatibility with your practice’s culture is crucial for long-term success.
  • Allow candidates to ask questions about your practice, team, and expectations. Their inquiries can provide insights into their level of interest and engagement.

6. Cross-Verify Their References

Checking references is a critical step in the hiring process to validate a candidate’s qualifications, work history, and character. When contacting provided references, typically former employers, colleagues, or mentors in the veterinary field, consider asking questions like:

  • Can you provide examples of the candidate’s clinical competence and expertise in veterinary medicine?
  • How effectively did the candidate communicate with colleagues, pet owners, and support staff? Did they demonstrate empathy and clarity in their interactions?
  • Describe how the candidate collaborated with other veterinary professionals and support staff in their previous roles. Were they a team player?
  • How did the candidate perform during emergency situations?
  • Did the candidate actively seek opportunities for professional development and continuing education?

Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process

To ensure a smooth and effective hiring process for a veterinarian, be vigilant for potential red flags:

  • Lack of Compassion: Assess candidates for their genuine care and compassion for animals. A lack of empathy can be a significant red flag.
  • Inadequate Communication: Strong communication skills are vital in veterinary practice. Candidates who struggle to communicate effectively may not meet your practice’s standards.
  • Ethical Concerns: Be cautious of candidates with ethical lapses, such as violations of veterinary ethics or past disciplinary actions.
  • Resistance to Learning: A refusal to engage in ongoing professional development or a reluctance to embrace new veterinary technologies and treatments may hinder your practice’s growth.
  • Limited Surgical Skills: If surgery is a significant part of the role, candidates with limited surgical experience or proficiency may not be suitable.
  • Record-Keeping Issues: Meticulous record-keeping is essential in veterinary medicine. Candidates who have a history of record-keeping errors may pose a risk to your practice.

A new hire's first day checklist

Veterinarian Job Description

Here’s a comprehensive veterinarian job description to help you attract talented and compassionate candidates to your practice:

Download Template

Job Title: Veterinarian

Company: [Your Veterinary Practice Name]

Location: [Location]

Job Type: [Full Time / Part Time]

Salary: [Salary / Competitive / DOE]

About Us:

[Briefly describe your veterinary practice’s mission, values, and work environment.]

The Opportunity: 

We are seeking a dedicated and compassionate Veterinarian to join our team. As a Veterinarian at [Your Veterinary Practice Name], you will be pivotal in providing top-notch veterinary care to our clients’ beloved pets. We invite you to apply if you are passionate about animal health and committed to delivering outstanding veterinary services.

What You’ll Do:

  • Diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions in animals, including dogs, cats, and other small animals.
  • Perform surgeries, including spaying, neutering, and soft tissue procedures.
  • Communicate effectively with pet owners, explaining diagnoses, treatment plans, and preventive care.
  • Utilize diagnostic tools, such as X-rays, ultrasounds, and laboratory tests, for accurate assessments.
  • Prescribe medications and oversee their administration.
  • Provide emergency and critical care when necessary.
  • Maintain detailed patient records with accuracy and confidentiality.
  • Stay updated on the latest advancements in veterinary medicine through continuing education.

What You’ll Bring:

  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from an accredited veterinary school.
  • State Veterinary license in good standing.
  • Proficiency in diagnosing and treating various medical conditions in animals.
  • Proficiency in surgical procedures, including spaying, neutering, and other surgeries relevant to the practice.
  • The ability to utilize diagnostic tools like X-rays, ultrasounds, and laboratory tests for accurate assessments.
  • Skill in prescribing and overseeing the administration of medications.
  • Strong communication skills to explain diagnoses, treatment plans, and preventive care to pet owners.
  • Competence in providing emergency and critical care when necessary.
  • The ability to maintain detailed and accurate patient records while ensuring confidentiality.
  • Dedication to ongoing learning and staying current with advancements in veterinary medicine.
  • If applicable, board certification or specialized training in a particular veterinary field.

Our Ideal Candidate is Someone Who Has:

  • Board certification or specialized training in [relevant specialty].
  • [Specify years] of experience as a practicing Veterinarian.
  • A deep love for animals and a strong commitment to their well-being.
  • Surgical expertise and anesthesia management skills.
  • Outstanding client communication and customer service skills.
  • A track record of maintaining accurate patient records.
  • A passion for ongoing learning and professional growth.

Benefits and Perks:

  • Competitive salary.
  • Performance-based bonuses.
  • Health insurance.
  • Retirement plans.
  • Paid time off (PTO).
  • Continuing education (CE) allowance.
  • Professional liability insurance.
  • Licensing and membership fees.
  • Student loan repayment.
  • Relocation assistance.
  • Employee assistance program (EAP).
  • Wellness programs.
  • Employee discounts.
  • Supportive work culture.
  • Flexible scheduling.
  • Team collaboration.
  • State-of-the-art facilities.
  • Cutting-edge technology.
  • Pet-friendly workplace.
  • Mentorship programs.
  • Career advancement opportunities.
  • Social events.
  • Community involvement.
  • On-site services.
  • Professional development.
  • Research opportunities.
  • Travel opportunities.
  • Competitive location.
  • Work-life balance.
  • Employee recognition.

How to Join Us:

Please submit your resume and a cover letter detailing your qualifications to [email address] with the subject line “Application for Veterinarian Position – [Your Name].”

[Your Veterinary Practice Name] is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We value diversity and do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or protected veteran status. We are committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

Closing Date: [Insert closing date for applications]

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. We appreciate your interest in [Your Veterinary Practice Name].

Note: Customize this template to align with your veterinary practice’s specific requirements and the veterinarian role you seek to fill. Tailor the job description to reflect your practice’s unique values and expectations.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Veterinarian?

Understanding the costs of hiring a veterinarian is essential to budget effectively for this critical position. Here’s a breakdown of the expenses you can expect:

Recruitment Costs

Recruitment costs encompass expenses related to sourcing, evaluating, and ultimately hiring the right veterinarian. Consider the following components:

  • Online Job Postings: Many job boards charge a fee for posting veterinary job openings. The AVMA Career Center charges $213 for members and $323 for non-members for a 30-day job announcement; other pricing options can be found here. VetMed Careers charges . VECCS charges $529 for members and $629 for non-members for a 45-day passive job seeker package; check for other price options here
  • VeterinaryJobs charges $249 for a 30-day job posting and $299 for a premium job posting, and you can check out other pricing options on their page. On the Veterinary Jobs Marketplace, you can post your job ad for 28 days at $220. 

Ensure you budget for these posting fees.

Contact these recruitment agencies for a quote – VetProCentral, Vetco Solutions, or VetCor. When partnering with veterinary staffing agencies, be prepared for placement fees. These fees are often calculated as a percentage of the veterinarian’s first-year salary, ranging from 15% to 30% or more.

Salary and Benefits

Most of your budget will depend on the veterinarian’s salary and benefits. Consider the following:

Veterinarian salaries vary by location, with higher living costs generally correlating with higher salaries. Additionally, experienced veterinarians may command higher salaries than entry-level counterparts. The average veterinarian salary in the United States is approximately $173,509 annually and $83 hourly

Providing benefits such as health insurance, dental and vision coverage, retirement contributions (e.g., 401(k) match), and paid time off (PTO) adds to the overall compensation package. These benefits are essential for attracting and retaining top talent.

Agwaonye Samuel

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