Tag: career

Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify LIVE Virtual Dreamcatcher

So if you were lucky enough to attend VSGD LIVE and have been inspired, the important thing is to take your dream and now catch it.

Download your virtual dreamcatcher below, type in your dream, then save it as your phone wallpaper, print it out and stick it to your bathroom mirror, or have it made into a fridge magnet.  Reminders area powerful!

Dream Catcher Yellow

Dream Catcher Pink

Dream Catcher Blue

Remember, the end goal can seem difficult, even impossible.  But start with step one, then step two… and so on until you get there.  Yes, there will be challenges, but they won’t be daunting if you keep them bitesize.

And ensure you have support.  In this age of networking you have unparalleled access to resources.  Make use of these, and connect with people who can help you.

If you’re not a member, join the VSGD community for ideas and support.

My skill set

I’m not a people-person, so I work in shelter medicine and ECC because there are fewer clients.  I am, however, a good communicator so I like the freedom both of these settings give me to discuss cases fully and thoroughly with staff and owners.  I am pragmatic and good under pressure at multi-tasking and prioritising, hence ECC.  I do not have a plant-brain (more addled mummy-brain) so the 10 minute consult where you have to access minute detail in the pigeon holes of your mind don’t work well for me any more.  I am quite a visual person and have good 3D memory, so I’m good at imaging – I can usually work out what I’m looking at intuitively.  I can also differentiate the pink/purple blobs under the microscope quite effectively, so my current job description is:

Imaging and cytology working for an animal shelter and a local first opinion veterinary hospital out of hours clinic.  I LOVE my job, but that’s because I discovered my strengths early on, developed them and now use them for the majority of my work.  Having a practice that supports and recognises individual skill and talent works well for both parties.  I still do all the other GP vet stuff, but the balance is firmly in favour of what I’m good at!

The Good, the Bad and Ugly

Different career experiences, written by vets who have learnt along the way.  This page is a work in progress – email us with your story if you think it may be of help to colleagues.  Alternatively, the Veterinary: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook community has career profiles and comments from vets in diverse roles.

Working for a feed company

Mixed Practice


Working for a feed company; pros and cons

The following blog was originally posted on the Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook page and has been reproduced here with kind permission of the author.  It provides an insightful look at the pros and cons of work outside practice within a large company.

“Having been in my current role as Vet and Equine Nutritionist at a feed company for just coming up to a year I thought some feedback for others considering such a career move from practice or elsewhere might be useful.

For: Working for a big(ish) company has its advantages – training in everything from sales and negotiation to presenting and excel to vet and nutrition CPD. Plus any memberships, registrations, subscriptions or anything else I need are paid for without quibble. Reasonable pay (circa 40-45k) plus benefits and car. Good support, regular appraisals and an emphasis on development.

And the role itself: massively varied with control of your own diary- mix of yard meetings, office meetings, business-to-business collabs, research and advising, teaching, lecturing and organising internal and external CPD. You need to have a commercial interest because any role in the commercial sector has that focus, obviously, but this is a great opportunity to develop your skill set and enough practice to gain some confidence – in proposals, pitches, negotiating, managing and setting budgets and targets, working fast and efficiently (doesn’t come naturally to me!), customer interaction and support, and even marketing, promotion and PR; what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot do! And pretty much, if you have an idea or interest that you can pitch successfully internally (logistics, investment and returns etc) you have the opportunity to run with it and make it fly which is pretty cool (worry about pressure of making the predicted returns on it later…!). The prospect of working internationally – I currently advise where required from the UK because we have staff elsewhere but there’s definitely the option for more travel in this type of role.

Against: the hours (45+pw plus driving time, usually averages out at a 12 hour work day), driving (500-1000 pw though would depend on where you live and specific role of course), staying away (1-4 nights a week, every week, averages at about 2 pw, with the odd weekend night unavoidable). Sales chat! Quite a time waster. Some internal meetings inevitably end up with a lot of it however. The inefficiency of endless internal admin and reports which divert from doing the actual job – quite similar in other companies and similar roles probably but I have little to compare with in the commercial sector. It is certainly much more than in practice. The inefficiency of a larger company – gaining approval for plans or investments from multiple departments can take a very long time and if you don’t shout loud enough can miss the boat on whatever opportunity you were working on as a result which is frustrating. This is a very competitive sector, which is good sometimes and bad at others! Makes for quite a pressured work environment. There’s positives and negatives to working with big yards – they can be variable to work with, some great and others less so (as vets in practice will know about as well of course).

Overall, this is a great role to broaden and develop your skill set which is increasingly important in the inevitable changes in work force requirements in the future. Whether this role will even be relevant?! But it has been a step in the right direction to develop further after leaving practice. I was certainly not expecting to use my clinical knowledge and skills to the extent I have and having left practice rather demoralised it has reminded me why I wanted to be a vet in the first place, which is quite a relief! I won’t be staying in this role for much longer for the reasons stated above (the driving mostly) but it has provided a good focus for what to do next and, importantly, some great opportunities and contacts for future roles.”


Getting a job in Australia… or two

Writing a travel blog is important. I recently sat down and read my diary from my trip to Thailand over three years ago and was warmed by the memories I thought I had forgotten. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to travel. I love seeing new cultures, finding quirky bars and shops, meeting new people, sharing stories, making memories.

My training as a Veterinary Nurse has opened a lot of doors for me in terms of working whilst travelling and I’ve come to realise the saying ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’, rings very true! Australia is a country in which, being a UK qualified Veterinary Nurse means that getting a job should be easy!

I plan to do volunteer charity and wildlife work as I travel as well as paid work, in Australia and then Asia. This blog will act as an opportunity to document how nursing abroad has changed my view, and share my experiences with other Veterinary professionals. (And maybe even help people who are looking at taking on the same challenge! Feel free to comment or start a discussion – I’d love to hear about your ideas or experiences 🙂

I arrived in Melbourne, Australia on the 18th of March with a job prospect lined up at the University of Melbourne. Unfortunately, after realising how naive I had been with the distance of the city in comparison to my new place of work, I had to turn the job down, and search for one closer to the city centre. I now have a job at a non-for profit organisation, which I love.

(I need to thank a fellow UK nurse for helping me get this position – like I said, it’s who you know!) The clinic treats companion animals, as well as having a decent exotic caseload, and treating Australian wildlife.

The clinic itself is large – it has around 80 nurses, who work on a shift pattern as well as a roster system for covering extra shifts due to sickness etc. There are several wards, separate for dogs, cats and exotics, as well as a large treatment room, theatres etc. that you would expect to see in a vet clinic.

So far my experience has been similar to UK nursing. Many of the same drugs are used, with slightly different trade names, and the techniques are pretty similar. A good example of this is the common use of Pentosan in Australia – a drug I thought I had never seen used in the UK. After some research, I’ve realised the same drug is branded as Cartrophen in the UK!

‘Cartrophen Vet (100mg/mL of pentosan polysulfate sodium or PPS) is a treatment for osteoarthritis and related musculoskeletal disorders in dogs and horses. It provides pain relief by acting on the pathology within the joint that causes pain and lameness. It is… classified as a disease modifying osteoarthritis drug (DMOAD).’

It acts by stimulating cartilage production, improving the quantity and quality of synovial fluid, as well as increasing blood flow and therefore nutrition delivery to the joint. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.  The nurses here run pentosan injection clinics; since the course of pentosan is generally 4 injections which are 5-7 days apart, the nurses tend to administer the middle two, whilst gaining a progress report on how they believe the medication is or isn’t affecting their dog.

This works well and feels like a good use of nurses time. I feel trusted to get a good client history, communicate with the client and report back to the vet if necessary,

I believe a positive note of this clinic is the use of nurses for triage. Everything that enters the practice on an A&E basis is first triaged by a Veterinary Nurse. This means that everything can then be given a status depending on how critical the case is and a TPR can be taken, to save the vet time during the consult. It also means that if simple things come through A&E, these things can be dealt with and sent home. A good example of this recently was a cat with an overgrown claw – this was cut, the hole in the pad cleaned with betadine, a consult vet grabbed to eyeball the case, before sending it on its way with betadine to clean it at home. A simple yet effective way of utilising nurses. I was surprised that this kind of trust was put in nurses here, as the Australian nursing qualification is less in depth in comparison to the UK qualification.

I (probably wrongly) assumed that less trust would be put in nurses. After talking to a few of my new colleagues however, I was informed that life as a Veterinary Nurse in a small private practice is very much as I was imagining. This is something I hope to investigate further as I travel Australia.

I hope working abroad is only going to widen my views and open my mind and I’m looking forward to it.

Until next time!

Travelling Vet Nurse


If you can’t find what you’re looking for check out our FAQs and forums, or contact us with a query and we’ll do our best to answer.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – read our blogs on different job experiences.

EMS – use this time to try different types and structure of practice – rural mixed vs. large inner city hospital; private vs. corporate; zoo vs. OV work

Know yourself – the best way to find the perfect job for you is to take time writing down your skill set and passions (click here for a guide).  If you can find a job that plays to your strengths and allows you to follow your passion then you’re well on the way to enjoying your work.  Base your career path and tailor your CV around your skill set, and match it to jobs available.  If you have no luck, send your CV to practices you like the look of; you never know they may have a job coming up they haven’t got around to advertising.  Phone practices and have a chat about their ethos before applying.  At interview, find out if the job they are offering matches your skill set.  If not, you may find it hard to fit in and enjoy work.  Click here for my example.

CV writing – Dave Nichol’s, team leader, practice owner and recruitment specialist, has written an excellent blog – click here.

BVA member services – Download the full BVA Guide to job hunting.  They also run a careers service (accessible for a fee).  The BVA’s Young Vets Network exists to provide support for recent graduates.

SPVS member services – Final year congress in Lancaster with careers advice.  They also provide support and guidance on employment contracts and professional matters or just to give support at difficult times. Contact SPVS office on 01926 410454 or email rgso@spvs.org.uk They also operate a CV Reading Service – email your CV to office@spvs.org.uk for advice and amendments.

Future Developments – One of the goals of Vet futures Action Plan 2016-2020 is to create an online veterinary careers hub, to include careers advice for school students and veterinary undergraduates, extramural studies (EMS) opportunities, and career development guidance for vets at all stages in their careers (see pg 22 of the report)

“The development of an online hub, as a portal for gathering together or signposting to this information, should help better measure expectations of those entering the profession, improve awareness of the greater range of veterinary roles available and encourage diversi cation, provide clear career paths and stimulate EMS and continuing professional development (CPD) providers to develop relevant learning opportunities.

In addition, careers materials should be reviewed and developed with an eye to ensuring that potential students, their parents and careers advisors will have a clear picture of the realities of life at vet school and the career paths that may follow. This ought to reduce some of the dissonance between expectation and reality that can cause stress in later life.

Public promotion of the hub will also help us to meet the objective of raising public awareness of the wider roles that veterinary surgeons play in society. Promotion of the hub will be accompanied by activities such the recruitment of careers ambassadors, talks at events such as the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) Final-year Seminar, and the social media communication of some of the hub’s resources (such as case studies).”

Fancy something different…

Training as a vet gives you a whole set of transferrable skills which make you eminently employable in many sectors.  Many of us use our degree in the first few years, then look for new challenges.  Sadly this if often as our enthusiasm wanes or stress increases.  Try to make the change a proactive, positive move TOWARDS something you are passionate about, rather than just moving away from a job you’re not happy with.   Options include:

Locum work – allows for greater flexibility, and trying out different practice set ups.  It’s not for everyone and it’s important to be informed to make sure you’re suited to locum work – this guide from Simply Locums is a good place to start.  It can be a great stop-gap while you’re exploring other career paths too.

Practice ownership  – Jumping in with both feet – setting up a practice or becoming a partner or director of an existing practice.  There are some new, exciting models being trialled by entrepreneurial vets – practices set up to improve working standards.  If you don’t like your practice model then how about developing a better one?  The VIN Foundation in the USA have a StartUp club for those looking to start practices.  Contact them for support and advice.

Specialisation – internship, residency, specialisation… this often enables us to follow the diagnostic and treatment trail further, allowing us to do what we trained for more often than we experience in first opinion practice.  These positions are fiercely contested and require dedicated time and effort.  Only start on this route if you’re 100% sure it’s what you want to do.  It should NOT be the default path for those disillusioned with general practice.

Education – with new veterinary schools popping up, there are more opportunities to get involved with education.  Teaching starts in practice, with vet students and vet nursing students.  If you enjoy being an educator, then knock on the doors of local animal welfare colleges, veterinary nursing institutions etc. and see if they have any positions or opportunities.

Research – PhD, research, academia… With the development of the One Health initiative there is more collaboration across the medical/veterinary professions than ever before, to make a difference to health and welfare for people and animals across the globe.

Industry – be it pharmaceutical/ food/ suppliers, there are a huge range of opportunities for vets to transfer across.  If you fancy a job which often involves travelling and development of new skill sets this is worth looking into.

Public health – both within the private and public sectors.  This isn’t just meat inspection, but everything from advising petting zoos to disaster planning in the event of a natural disaster.

Charity work – from local shelter medicine, to veterinary advisors within global welfare charities, charity work can give a genuine sense of wellbeing and progress animal health and welfare across a much broader scale.  If no charity job offers are advertised, contact a charity you’re passionate about and ask if they need or want advice or practical help.  You’ll meet inspiring people and gain a real sense of fulfilment.

Other options:

Something completely different… ever fancied yourself as an entrepreneur?  Read Lawrence Brown’s blog

The Facebook community ‘Veterinary: stay, go, diversify‘ showcases career profiles, interviews and posts from vets pursuing different career paths.  Or checkout the website from the recent live event.

Here’s a great blog on 10 ways to use your degree