At Vets Now, our staff are our lifeblood.

They all work tirelessly to give people and their pets the care and support they deserve, at the time they need it most.

That’s why we are committed to helping everyone achieve their potential — no matter what stage they are at in their careers.

No one knows this more than Kayleigh Ashford, 29, an animal care assistant in our Gateshead clinic, who is currently being supported through her veterinary nursing qualification by Vets Now while working in-clinic at nights and on weekends.

She said: “Vets Now really cares about supporting their staff and that’s the kind of company that I want to work for.”

Kayleigh grew up in Darlington, County Durham. She’s had a passion for animals from a young age, and surrounded herself with them at every opportunity.

“I had a lot of pets at home like cats, dogs and even horses, so I think that’s what really kick-started my interest in animal care,” she added.

“I also did a lot of odd jobs, such as working with birds of prey, when I was younger so that I could get involved in the veterinary industry. I volunteered at local vets and pet shops whenever I could just to get myself involved.”

After leaving school, Kayleigh followed her passion for animals by embarking on a zoology degree at university, but she decided that the course wasn’t for her after a year of study.

Image of Vets Now Animal Care Assistant Kayleigh Ashford

She said: “I realised I wasn’t in the field I wanted to be in, and university fees are so expensive I didn’t see the point in wasting more money on a degree I wasn’t passionate about.

“I ended up going from job to job, never really finding anything that interested me. I found myself in restaurant management until about two years ago, when I finally decided to take the plunge and do a veterinary nursing course.

“I’d wanted to be a vet nurse for a while, but never could because of the money side of things.”

While studying at East Durham College, Kayleigh began seeking out job openings in local veterinary practices. She applied for a receptionist’s role at Vets Now and, from there, moved to the position of animal care assistant.

The main responsibility of animal care assistants, or ACAs, is to assist the vets and vet nurses in the day-to-day running of our clinics. Their duties include cleaning and feeding the pets in our care, ensuring they are comfortable in their kennels, and helping the clinical staff with diagnostic and emergency procedures.

As part of their role, they are also in regular contact with pet owners.

“I’m very lucky with the team at Gateshead,” explained Kayleigh. “They allow me to work with them while they conduct medical procedures so I can better understand the theory behind it.

“Obviously, there are limitations to what I can do as I can’t practice my veterinary nursing while in the clinic, but there is a lot I’m able to help with. I learn a lot from the vet nurses and vets I work with.”

Kayleigh pushes herself to work hard both in-clinic and during her studies. So much so that the Gateshead staff nominated her for Vets Now’s “Make A Difference” (MAD) award a few weeks before she attended the Vets Now Congress in Harrogate.

“I was planning on going to Congress anyway as the lectures are really good and it’s such a great atmosphere, but being nominated for the ‘releasing potential’ award was an added bonus,” said Kayleigh.

“It was a very proud moment for me and everyone on my team was so supportive. Even just to be in the top five out of the many people in the company felt fantastic. It made all the effort I put into my job and the company worthwhile. It was a really big achievement for me.”

An image of Kayleigh Ashford and her clinic team at Vets Now Congress

Despite having her veterinary nursing qualification exams coming up in July, Kayleigh is already looking beyond that.

“I’ve already applied for the Vets Now Nursing Edge programme, so hopefully I will be accepted into that,” she said. “I believe it’s a fantastic programme, especially for newly-qualified vet nurses who may not have lots of experience working in-clinic.”

Vets Now aims to support all of its employees with any training and development they might need. Kayleigh says this commitment to helping people progress has encouraged her to stay with the business even after she qualifies.

“I think Vets Now is a great company to work for. There is so much support in place for the staff and there’s lots of CPD available to anyone wanting to learn.”

Are you studying to become a veterinary nurse and are looking to experience working in a fast-paced ECC clinic? Click here to find out more about our available animal care assistant roles. Alternatively, click here to find out more about our innovative Nursing Edge programme.