Vet says combining day practice job with weekend emergency shifts offers best of both worlds

Finding the right balance between a satisfying career and a fulfilling personal life can feel like an uphill struggle.

This is especially the case in the veterinary profession which has historically high levels of burn out and compassion fatigue.

But there is a solution, according to vet Sasha Burns Fraser, and, perhaps surprisingly, it involves working weekend shifts.

Sasha, 26, from Belfast, is one of a growing number of vets and vet nurses who are choosing to work weekends with Vets Now while holding down other commitments elsewhere.

Some are locums seeking a little more stability while others are parents juggling weekday childcare demands.

Sasha, on the other hand, simply enjoys emergency work and is keen to gain more experience in ECC.

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She said: “I graduated just over three years ago and have worked in small animal practice ever since. I quickly realised I particularly enjoyed the emergency cases that presented and found this was where I thrived most.

“When the opportunity came up to do weekend-only shifts at Vets Now, I jumped at it.”

Sasha, who is doing a certificate in ECC, said combining weekend shifts (she works every second weekend) with her day job suits her lifestyle and offers the “best of both worlds” in terms of general practice appointments and emergency work.

She added: “I still have my job in day practice and feel that working some weekends and the odd bank holiday provides a nice balance. It’s helped me keep my surgical skills up to scratch and learn about delegation and different ways of communicating.

“I also feel I have a really good work-life balance between my two rotas, which is important.”

Image of Sasha Burns Fraser for Vets Now article on weekend vets
Sasha says combining weekend shifts with her day job suits her lifestyle (Background image created by Topntp26 - Freepik.com)

Sasha strongly believes vets and vet nurses who aspire to a work-life a little more extraordinary will enjoy the cut and thrust of emergency. But she has some words of advice for anyone considering following in her footsteps.

She said: “In emergency, every day is different. One minute you have a patient who is seizuring, then a toxin case, then an RTA. Sometimes you’re needed in three places at once, so you learn how to manage your time, delegate and prioritise under pressure, which are all difficult skills to master.

“You need to be quick-thinking and thorough — and quickly understand what to focus on first.

“But it’s also important to realise you’re not a miracle worker. Even if you have all the skills in the world you won’t be able to save every pet that comes into your clinic so you need to be able to take a step back, and not blame yourself if not everything goes to plan.”

At Vets Now, we’re single-minded in our quest to support vets and vet nurses who want to pursue their passion — and our aim is to help staff build their career around their lifestyle, not their lifestyle around their career.

Our weekend vet shifts are ideal for those looking to balance family life with their career, earn extra money, or gain new skills and career progression without committing to a full-time role.

There are shifts available for vets and vet nurses across our 60 emergency clinics and hospitals nationwide and we are happy to work with candidates to agree on a shift pattern that works for them.

This might involve working every weekend, every second or third weekend, or perhaps just one weekend a month. For more information, call our recruitment team on 01383 841181 or contact us here.