Four months after completing Cutting Edge vets reunite to reflect on their progress

Our innovative Cutting Edge programme equips vets with the skills they need to start a full-time role in one of our nationwide network of emergency clinics.

Natalie West, Anna Tarrega and Mariline Ferreira completed Cutting Edge four months ago and have been working at our clinics in Liverpool, Luton and Bradford, respectively, ever since.

We caught up with Natalie (NW), Anna (AT) and Mariline (MF) to chat about life at Vets Now and how the Cutting Edge programme helped prepare them for life on the front line of emergency and critical care.

An image of a Cutting Edge vet working in a clinic for Vets Now article on Edge vet training programmes

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How have you found working in emergency and critical care?

AT: It’s definitely different to day practice. There are so many different cases and there’s more time to be thorough. It’s just more exciting.

NW: It’s very fast paced and there is such a variety of cases, although it can also be quite stressful!

MF: It’s often really busy which can be tiring, especially as I also work for PDSA, but it’s a really exciting job.

How well do you think Cutting Edge prepared you for working in ECC?

AT: I don’t think I would have been able to do the job without doing Cutting Edge. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start working in ECC without receiving the Cutting Edge training first.

MF: I agree, I wouldn’t have been able to do this job without Cutting Edge. I was very happy with the programme. I think it focused on the things we need most when working in ECC, and it was great to have the opinion and input of so many specialists.

NW: I think it prepared me well clinically. The only other areas it could have helped with, in my opinion, would be pricing and estimates.

What’s the most important thing you learned during Cutting Edge?

MF: The benefit of stabilising a patient and taking the time to seek advice when you’re not sure what to do next. It was also great to learn how to deal with the things you see most in ECC.

NW: Learning the theory behind the major things you see as an ECC vet was a particularly important part of the programme.

AT: We also learned about case management, like how to deal with a busy shift and how to prioritise cases. We also did a lot on achieving a good work-life balance and how to deal with things like the change of routine when working nights and sleeping during the day. This really helped.

Image of Anna Tarrega, Natalie West and Mariline Ferreira at Vets Now Cutting Edge reunion in January 2019
Mariline Ferreira, Natalie West and Anna Tarrega (left to right) at our Cutting Edge reunion

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What’s been your favourite moment working in ECC so far?

NW: Surgeries and CPR are really interesting. I also find determining the cause of collapsed animals a fascinating part of the job.

AT: It’s really rewarding when a critically-ill animal arrives at the clinic and leaves the next day alive and well. It’s nice to know you’ve made a difference.

MF: The owners are usually distressed and expecting the worst, so they’re so thankful when there’s a positive outcome. It’s great to feel like you did a good job and it was appreciated.

Where do you see yourself in two years’ time?

MF: I’m halfway through my ECC certificate at the moment so my short-term plan is to finish that.

NW: I’d really like to do a residency at some point in the future.

AT: I definitely want to continue doing emergency work, maybe in a hospital.

Would you recommend Cutting Edge to others?

NW: Yes I would. ECC isn’t for everyone but I’d definitely recommend the programme to anyone looking to get into it.

AT: Yes, I would recommend it. It’s a great way to revise all the important things we learned about ECC at university and also gain new skills and experience.

MF: I definitely would.

Image of Vets Now Cutting Edge vets at the reunion in Dunfermline
Our vets attended the Cutting Edge reunion at the Vets Now support office in Dunfermline

What advice would you give to people considering following in your footsteps?

MF: My advice would be to persevere. It’s not always easy doing long shifts and long hours but being able to make a difference and achieve amazing things makes it all worthwhile.

AT: There are good moments and bad moments, but we have to concentrate on the good things and learn from the bad.

NW: Make the most of your time off. It’s easy to sleep all day but it’s better to set an alarm and enjoy your free time.

What are your tips for working out of hours?

MF: Try to sleep the day before a shift. I need to sleep before my shift otherwise it’s a very long 15 hours. It’s also important to have a hobby. Your life can’t just be work, otherwise you’ll just be exhausted all the time. You need to focus on something else when you’re not at work.

AT: As vets, it’s important that we take care of ourselves in general.

NW: Eat and drink throughout your shift. Don’t leave it until 3am when you’re hungry or you’ll feel terrible.

Finally, what do you like most about working for Vets Now?

MF: Everyone is really approachable. There are also company benefits like private health insurance which contribute to a great work experience. They are also dedicated to working well and to the highest standards.

NW: I agree, and they really encourage further learning through events like the Vets Now ECC Congress, which is really important.

AT: It’s like a family at Vets Now. It’s not like a massive company where you don’t know anyone. We’ve met the CEO Mark a few times and we can talk to him like anyone else. It’s so friendly and everyone is really supportive.

Are you a vet looking to enter the world of ECC, but want to make sure you have the right skills first? Cutting Edge may be for you. Learn more about Cutting Edge here.