A Relief Veterinarian: What Is It?

Those looking for a flexible and spontaneous veterinary career path may choose to try being a relief veterinarian. These individuals work with various veterinary clinics to cover staffing shortfalls and keep flexible schedules. You may be able to determine whether this is a career option that interests you by learning about the duties of the position and the abilities that relief veterinarians frequently employ. This page explains the duties of a relief veterinarian, including a discussion of the skills they frequently utilize, and offers information on compensation and employment prospects in the field.

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Can a veterinarian provide relief?

When a veterinarian is ill or away on vacation, parental leave, or sabbatical, a relief veterinarian fills in. Relief veterinarians are experts in animal health. During hectic times, certain clinics could ask for relief veterinarians to treat animals. These workers usually shift between clinics often, so they get immediately familiar with the requirements, atmosphere, and policies of each one. A specialty in horse medicine, big or small animal care, or the administration of dietary medications is possible for relief veterinarians. Numerous professionals operate alone, managing their own clientele, bookkeeping, travel, and expenditures. Some may choose to work with organizations that employ and manage relief veterinarians.

Relief veterinarians often have flexible schedules that they can modify based on their specialty’s demands. Certain relief veterinarians, for instance, could specialize in 24-hour emergency clinics and often operate through the night. Some who work with a certain species could put in more hours during the mating season and less hours during the rest of the year. It’s beneficial for these experts to keep an open schedule and are ready for frequent travel because clinics may need relief on short notice.

What is the job of a relief veterinarian?

The tasks of a full-time veterinarian are completed by a relief veterinarian. Depending on the services a hiring clinic provides and the kinds of animals they work with, their precise duties may change, but generally speaking, they create care plans and carry out treatments. They may also oversee operations like breeding, research, or zoo entertainment that have the potential to negatively impact an animal’s health. These experts may potentially:

Conduct surgical procedures

Obtain and evaluate X-rays

Place an order for diagnostic testing

Check animals for anomalies.

Recognize ailments

Write prescriptions for drugs

Make planning for post-operative care.

Give them advice on feeding, sleeping, and cleanliness for animals.

Clean surgical instruments.

Update the patient record.

Data entry into systems for electronic records

Plan your births.

Vaccinate people

Animals should be spayed and neutered.

Put animals to death

Work along with veterinarian assistants and clinic managers.

Relief veterinarians who operate independently without the assistance of an agency may also carry out the following duties:

Monitoring corporate spending

Setting up and submitting company taxes

billing customers

obtaining unpaid invoices

Building rapport with clients

Contract drafting and negotiation

collaborating with the insurance providers of clients

A relief veterinarian’s competencies

In addition to their vast understanding of veterinary science, relief veterinarians possess special soft skills that enable them to manage their busy schedules. These experts frequently employ the following abilities:


Because relief veterinarians operate in circumstances that change so often, it’s critical that they maintain flexibility. These experts modify their working methods to fit the policies, procedures, and cultures of each clinic. Relief veterinarians should be able to manage a variety of situations, pick things up fast, and make choices with confidence based on little previous knowledge in order to fulfill the demands of each unique client. These professionals frequently look for new possibilities for training and development so they may hone their particular talents and get ready for new challenges.

Animal Medicine

Relief veterinarians treat a wide range of illnesses and wounds, and it is essential that they attend to each client’s demands. Their extensive understanding of animal behavior, biology, and available treatments enables them to promptly assess patients’ medical conditions and deliver competent care. Relief veterinarians should get familiar with popular surgical instruments such anesthetic equipment, surgical clamps, scalpels, ultrasound technologies, and blood pressure monitors so they can adjust to each clinic with little training.

Record keeping

Relief veterinarians work as temporary staff, therefore it’s important that they keep thorough records of the cases they address. Relief veterinarians usually leave thorough documents outlining their suggestions, so other veterinarians may conduct follow-up visits or continue overseeing a treatment plan. They may list their diagnosis, treatment plans, medicines, and any planned operations or testing. They usually also include any pertinent background information that affects the care of the animal. They may write about the objectives of the client, the medical background of the animal, and the disposition of the patient and client. Additionally, some relief veterinarians affix pictures that faithfully capture the state of their patients.


An effective transition into and out of a clinic position might be facilitated by a relief veterinarian with strong communication skills. It’s critical that they are able to convey scientific concepts and specific directions to customers, clinic management, and other veterinary professionals both verbally and in writing. In order to appropriately train other veterinarians who could continue working with them in the future and to effectively reflect clients’ demeanors in their notes, it is also beneficial if they are skilled active listeners.

Emotional intelligence is one.

Relief veterinarians may come into contact with customers who are grieving, therefore it’s advantageous if they can show empathy and offer support. Relief veterinarians must also be adept in controlling their own emotions because of the nature of their work. Veterinarians may manage stress, stay focused during lengthy shifts, and build trust with their customers by adopting good coping mechanisms.

Business Skills

Since a lot of relief veterinarians run their own companies, it’s beneficial for them to understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping, marketing, and sales. These experts may study firm tax and financial rules and utilize accounting software to keep tabs on expenditures and budget. Relief veterinarians may also concentrate on lead creation, contract preparation, and marketing techniques like social media because it’s crucial for independent contractors to establish and retain valuable client connections.