Mum with 10 years’ experience in mixed practice joined team after enquiring about locum shifts

Debra Kojs was on the look-out for some locum work when she heard Vets Now were recruiting vets to do weekend-only shifts.

As with all the big decisions she’s taken in life, Debra weighed up the pros and cons.

The pros were obvious — guaranteed shifts at times that suited her, access to CPD and the same benefits as other permanent members of the Vets Now team.

The cons, on the other hand, were hard to pin down. All in all, it was a no-brainer and, after meeting district vet Sarah, Debra signed up to do two-weekend day shifts a month.

Since then, the 34-year-old, who’s married with two young children, has become a highly valued member of the Vets Now team in Wrexham. In this Q&A, Debra explains what motivated her to join Vets Now and how she’s found combining her day job with occasional weekend shifts.

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When did working as a vet become an ambition?
It’s a bit of a cliche but I’ve always wanted to be a vet. The ambition became even stronger when a vet moved in next door when I was 15 and took me under her wing. She took me out on calls and showed me the highs and lows of working as a vet. I was hooked!

How did you end up working for Vets Now?
I qualified from the RVC in 2008 and returned to my hometown of Machynlleth, in mid-Wales, to take on a job in the same mixed practice I’d worked at while a student. I started working at Vets Now earlier this year after enquiring about some locum work at a new clinic being set up in Wrexham. The district vet, Sarah, was so encouraging and allowed me to take up a really small contract which would work around my family and existing job.

Tell me about the shift pattern you work and why it suits you?
I work weekend day shifts, mainly Saturdays, and on average I do two a month. I also pick up some additional shifts when I’m able to. This suits me because I still work two-and-a-half days a week at the mixed practice as well as one in six weekends. The weekend role has given me a good insight into what it means to work at Vets Now. With the children being so young — Osian is four, and Alys will be two in February — work-life balance is extremely important to me and I’m still trying to strike the right balance.

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Image of Debra Kojs, weekend veterinary surgeon at Vets Now
Debra at home in Wales with her children

What would you say to someone considering following in your footsteps?
When you’re only doing occasional shifts, it can take time to find your feet and get to know the policies and how things work, but there’s always a very supportive team around who understand and will happily help. In time everything falls into place and is less daunting.

What’s the best thing about working in emergency and critical care?
The variety of cases you see and also the interaction with the owners who are looking to you to care for their pets at a critical time.

What do you like about working for Vets Now?
There are many reasons but one thing that stands out is the encouragement for continual learning and personal development. I also like the level of care we are able to give our patients which is far beyond anything I’ve experienced in first-opinion mixed practice.

"There are many reasons for enjoying working at Vets Now but one thing that stands out is the encouragement for continual learning and personal development."

Debra Kojs Veterinary Surgeon

Is Vets Now supporting you to make the most of your potential?
Absolutely, and the amount of CPD available online is endless. I hope to have more time in the coming months to work through the courses. Due to family commitments and also my location, it’s often difficult to attend CPD events in person so the online material suits me perfectly.

What are your ambitions?
I’m aiming to continue my learning and hopefully, at some stage in the not too distant future, I’ll be in a position to start a certificate in ECC. I also love photography and I’m hoping to have more time to pursue this hobby.

What’s your background?
I grew up in Machynlleth and returned there to start my first veterinary job. I then met my now husband and moved a short distance away to Dolgellau in South Snowdonia. I enjoy the outdoors and can’t think of a nicer place to raise my children, even though it’s a long drive to the Vets Now clinic. We also have a dog called Mick, who is a true terrier by nature, and two pygmy goats called Rubble and Chase, who are absolutely fantastic with the children.

Everything you need to know about working weekends at Vets Now.