After graduating in 2003, I started a job in a mixed practice in Somerset before heading to Liverpool to study for a PhD. Once I’d completed it in 2008, I returned to the profession to work in a first-opinion practice.
I took on a part-time role in Vets Now’s busy Liverpool clinic two years later. I worked there for nearly five years and, in all honesty, only left because I was able to earn more as a locum.
For me, working as a locum was fun. I still got to work for Vets Now which I loved, but I had the added bonus of being able to pick and choose my shifts. I found the admin side of being self-employed fairly straightforward. Tax returns and invoicing were easy. Booking shifts wasn’t that bad either.
But what I can say hand on heart, and I have felt this throughout my veterinary career, is I much preferred having a clinic to call home. As a locum, you never have a base. Case follow up is poor, and you’re never really in a position to look into cases to check everything is ok and that your patients are doing well.
I missed this terribly while locuming. I also missed being a part of a proper team. I’m a big team player, and Vets Now is a company which encourages this, and I love that. You never feel part of the team when you’re doing locum shifts. You never quite fit in.
As a permanent vet, you and your colleagues are all striving for the same end goal. You’re all in it together regardless of your role. The feeling of being part of something bigger, rather than just a cog in the machine, is something you can’t put a price on.
But more than anything, I missed being in the clinic among colleagues who I counted as friends. Now I’m permanent again, I look forward to going to work to see people I love, spending time with them, doing something we all love.
So it’s a win-win. There’s more to it than that though. As the old cliche goes, you work to live, and it was important for me that I wasn’t going to be out of pocket by returning to a permanent role.
Do you want to follow in Viv's footsteps?
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Vets Now made it financially attractive for me to work for them. That meant locuming didn’t really offer any advantages, so the transition was smooth. But even more importantly, returning to Vets Now helped my work-life balance. As a locum, you can let things slide on this front.
I was working full-time during the day and picking up extra out-of-hours shifts on top of that — and I did that for many years, which was not good. I would highly recommend ANYONE who regularly locums for Vets Now to contact the company.
If you enjoy working in emergency, especially at a particular clinic, you’ve nothing to lose. It doesn’t have to be full-time, and you’ll find yourself working the shifts you’d have picked up anyway as a regular locum — but entirely in your preferred clinic.
You’ll also be an important part of a big team and get the fantastic CPD benefits and training Vets Now provides. For me, it’s an easy decision to make.