Senior vet has gone from strength-to-strength since completing internship in 2011
Anton Thompson is a great ambassador for the veterinary profession.
He’s passionate about learning, he’s devoted to his patients and the people he works alongside, and he’s dedicated to passing on his knowledge to every vet or vet nurse who joins his team.
But where does this enthusiasm stem from?
While the north London accent reveals Anton’s roots, his determination to better himself comes from his grounding at Vets Now’s emergency and specialty hospital in Glasgow, where he did a year-long internship.
“My internship was a wonderful experience, personally and professionally,” says Anton, who, eight years after completing it, is now a senior vet in our busy Ilford clinic. “It made me a more rounded vet and fostered my desire to undertake further training.”
Anton’s career journey is a little different to the norm.
Although determined to be a vet from a young age — “on my list were vet, astronaut and fireman and vet always came first,” he smiles — Anton, 37, didn’t get the grades to go straight into veterinary school.
He chose, instead, to do a degree in biomedical sciences before applying for vet school as a mature student.
“After graduating from my first degree I took a year out and was 23 when I started my second degree in veterinary medicine at Cambridge,” he recalls. “As I was a mature student, my studies were subsidised which made it possible.
“I knew early on that I wanted to work in emergency and critical care. I was part of the ER generation. I wanted this fast-paced life. I wanted to be Dr Peter Benton. But I needed to get experience.”
At the time, Vets Now was still relatively small. Our renowned Cutting Edge induction programme hadn’t been established and there were limited opportunities for graduates to go straight into emergency work.
Anton, who now lives in east London with his fiancée, joined a large veterinary company as a roving vet. He moved from practice to practice, before eventually accepting a full-time out-of-hours role in a busy hospital.
“I was very wet behind the ears but very driven,” he remembers. “I did it for two years and learned a lot but I got to the point where I felt I’d achieved what I wanted to achieve. I was desperate to improve but couldn’t just keep teaching myself.”
It was at that point the internship opportunity in Glasgow came up.
Anton was invited to the hospital for an interview just as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland was erupting. His flight from London was cancelled at the 11th hour and train prices suddenly went through the roof.
“I decided to drive up overnight and sleep in the car before my interview” he laughs. “I met [Vets Now founder] Richard Dixon and I remember him saying ‘you really want this job, don’t you?’. Afterwards, I just got in the car and drove back home.
“I was offered the job and did the internship for a year — and I absolutely loved it.
“It was great to experience living in such a friendly, vibrant city and everyone in the hospital was so welcoming and accommodating. I forged strong bonds with my intern colleagues and the hospital staff.”
Dr Anton Thompson Senior Vet
“My internship was a wonderful experience, personally and professionally. It made me a more rounded vet and fostered my desire to undertake further training."
Under the mentorship of diplomates Amanda Boag and Andrew Brown, Anton gained experience in all aspects of ECC as well as other disciplines, including internal medicine, cardiology, orthopaedic and soft tissue surgery.
“My aim was to further my skills as an ECC practitioner and to improve my academic reasoning and knowledge — and I feel the internship helped me do just that.”
After completing the internship, Anton went down the residency route, joining the Royal Veterinary College. But after 18 months of what seemed like non-stop working he made the difficult decision to leave the role.
“I felt burnt out,” he recalls. “I was paddling but struggling to stay afloat so I took a step back and did some locuming. I then found out about an opportunity to work as a senior vet at Vets Now.
“I initially thought I’d do it for three months or so and then start another residency but here I am after five years, still going strong.
“There’s no doubt the internship helped shape me. I’m a keen and active proponent of ECC training and my initial experience of didactic ECC teaching began as an intern. I continue to utilise the skills I developed in my internship in mentoring individuals at all levels from veterinary students, to Edge vets and my clinical team.
“It was an excellent opportunity and one that I’d thoroughly recommend”