Vets Now’s innovative Cutting Edge induction programme is aimed at vets who are keen to work in emergency and critical care, but who would like to build up their skills and confidence before taking sole charge.

Our latest intake of Cutting Edge vets are nearing the end of their mentored in-clinic shifts and will be returning to the support office to share their experiences and discuss their learnings.

This week’s Q&A is with Emma Toffanin, from Padova, in Italy. Emma enrolled in the Cutting Edge programme after working in exotics for 18 months and realising that it didn’t quite meet her career aspirations.

If you would like to follow in Emma’s footsteps and think you have what it takes to work in a fast-paced ECC clinic, click here.

Name: Emma Toffanin

Hometown: Padova, a small historic town in the north-east of Italy

Tell me a bit about your background?

I grew up in the countryside and spent lots of time outdoors. I guess I was a bit of a tomboy, climbing trees, exploring woods and trying to cycle faster than my brothers and cousins. I had a passion for looking after animals from a young age, as I would always bring home stray cats, dogs, birds and any other animals I could find.

Where did you go to university?

I began my university education at the University of Padua, but thanks to two scholarships, I went on to study at the Texas A&M University and Ankara University.

What made you want to be a vet?

I’ve always been fascinated by animals — they’re so different from us, perfectly adapted to their environments with incredible abilities and intelligence. What made me really want to become a vet, however, was my attempts at trying to rescue kittens that had been involved in road traffic accidents. There weren’t any charities or vets around that could help them, and unfortunately, most didn’t make it. I decided to become a vet because I wanted to do more to help them.

Give me a quick rundown of your career? 

After graduating, I spent a few months volunteering at a wildlife rescue centre in Scotland. While there, I became friendly with several vet students from the UK and started thinking about finding a vet position. I found a job a few months later in an exotic and small animal first-opinion practice in Kent. I really enjoyed working there as the team were all capable and lovely. They helped me get through long shifts on call, homesickness and long weeks of grey and rainy weather. Eighteen months later I felt I needed a change, as I wanted to do something a little more challenging than first-opinion work. I’d always had an interest in ECC, so when I found out about Vets Now’s Cutting Edge programme I applied straight away.

Read more: Vet Alison is inspiring the next generation of vets in EMS students mentoring role

What’s the most enjoyable thing about being a vet?

The most enjoyable thing about being a vet is that you get to make a difference, for both the pet and the owner. You get to see your patient make a full recovery and watching them run back into their owner’s arms must be one of the best feelings in the world. You also never stop learning amazing things, and there’s no end to the cuddles from patients — what more could you ask for?

Why do you want to work in emergency and critical care?

I think ECC encompasses all of the other medical disciplines, and it pushes you to keep learning new skills and information and to broaden your knowledge. It is very challenging but extremely rewarding. You’re never bored.

What prompted you to apply for Cutting Edge?

The opportunity to learn lots of new things. I felt I was a capable vet, but I wanted to push myself and challenge my knowledge and skills.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as a vet with an ECC certificate, maybe working in a vet hospital.

What are you hoping to get out of the Cutting Edge programme?

To increase my confidence in dealing with surgical or particularly complicated cases.

What would be your advice to someone who is thinking of becoming a vet?

Sometimes people go to vet school because they have an interest in the medical field, but they don’t really want to be a doctor, as they’re worried they won’t enjoy dealing with people every day. As a vet, you are taking care of pets, who are a member of the family. As a vet, you will have to deal with angry, worried and very sad owners, who are leaving their beloved pet in your hands. Part of your duty is to take care of the owners too, reassuring them that you will do everything in your power to help their little ones. It’s an essential part of our job that we mustn’t forget.

Read more: Life’s just one big learning curve for senior emergency vet Anneka

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love travelling and meeting new people, cooking, reading and doing yoga. I also love going for long walks on the beach or in the woods.

What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

Every trip I’ve ever done took me somewhere amazing, where I could feel butterflies in my stomach and feel so happy and lucky to be there. I felt this most during my 10-day road trip to Oban, Coll, Mull, Iona and Tyree. I travelled alone and saw so many beautiful places, met new people and saw some of the most beautiful sunsets of my life, as well as dolphins, shooting stars, and Fingal’s cave. It was an amazing trip.

The next intake for Cutting Edge is in August, and places are almost full. We are also recruiting for more experienced vets for Refresh Your Edge, and our new fast-track programme AdvantEdge. If you, or any vets you know, are interested in applying, please call the Vets Now recruitment team for more information on 01383 841181 or click here.