Cutting Edge is Vets Now’s equivalent of a graduate trainee scheme.

It is aimed at vets who have a solid foundation in UK general practice but perhaps lack the confidence to take sole charge in an emergency setting.

Vet Claire Hill embarked on the Cutting Edge programme last August. Here she gives a first-hand account of her experiences.

Having spent the first two years of my veterinary career in a private small animal hospital, I found myself in a bit of a rut and need a new challenge.

I’d developed a keen interest in emergency and critical care and wanted to expand my knowledge and experience in this area.

While my first job had given me a good grounding in the medical management of critical patients, including placing feeding tubes and central lines, I felt my surgical skills were lacking.

To put it simply, I didn’t feel confident enough to work sole charge.

I then saw the advert for Cutting Edge. After speaking to various people who’d already been through the programme, I felt sure it would give me the opportunity to build on my skill set and provide me with the platform for a fulfilling career in emergency and critical care.

I was thrilled when I was accepted into the 10-week programme in August last year.

My instincts had been right. While intensive, the programme was invaluable. The clinical training was pitched at just the right level, and I learned an enormous amount, including how useful a blood smear could be and about blood gases.

However, now I’m doing clinical shifts, it’s the lessons I learned during the non-clinical lectures that I tap into most frequently.  Simple things like how to organise an out-of-hours shift and prioritise cases have had a really positive impact on the way I work.

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Along with the lectures and practical learning, Cutting Edge staff also do mentored work in clinics. Those shifts were priceless in that they allowed me to put some of my new skills and knowledge to the test but with someone there to offer guidance if needed. For me, this was an excellent way to gain hands-on experience in a safe and supportive environment. It also gave me the opportunity to see how different Vets Now clinics were run, which was really insightful.

However, perhaps the biggest bonus of embarking on the Cutting Edge programme was the friends I made along the way. We shared some amazing experiences during our time together, from visiting the Edinburgh Festival to taking part in a practical surgery weekend in Swindon, and the experience wouldn’t have been the same without them.

The good luck card members of the team sent me before my first sole charge shift still takes pride of place on my noticeboard. And even though we’re now out in our own clinics we still keep in touch to share anecdotes and advice.

I can’t fully remember my first sole charge shift at Vets Now. It’s all a bit of a blur now. But the last few months have certainly surpassed my expectations. I’ve developed a great relationship with my clinic team, and I’m now far more confident with surgeries and difficult cases.

Getting regular case reviews has also really helped me to develop as a clinician. And if the 322 hours of CPD weren’t enough there is so much extra online CPD available I don’t think I will ever struggle to meet my RCVS requirements!

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I would recommend the Cutting Edge induction programme to anyone interested in a career in emergency and critical care. The mix of lectures, practical sessions and mentored shifts have given me the best possible start.

I am now planning to start my CertAVP in emergency and critical care, and I’ve also been helping my head nurse with our practice standards which has been a great experience.

Looking back, even though I’ve worked some incredibly busy shifts, I don’t know why I was so worried about taking sole charge. And besides, with 52 other Vets Now clinics open at the same time, there’s always someone available to offer advice and reassurance.

We are recruiting for Cutting Edge. Anyone interested in applying should call the Vets Now recruitment team now on 01383 841181 or click here