Talent partner reflects on her experiences shadowing vets and vet nurses in Farnham and Gillingham

I’m a talent partner with Vets Now and spend my days engaging with vet surgeons who are looking to make the move into emergency and critical care.

I’m very much a people person and probably not what you’d call a massive animal lover.

Granted, I appreciate the cuteness of puppy Miro when my colleague Michelle brings him to work, but I’ve never been hugely comfortable around pets. Considering what I do for a living, I get the irony.

So, imagine my fear when faced with working a night shift between our Gillingham and Farnham clinics and physically seeing, and hearing, emergency pet care in the flesh.

The aim of the trip was to familiarise myself with the realities of working out of hours and understand, at least to some extent, what it feels like to do a night shift in a busy emergency clinic. It’s something everyone in the Vets Now support office is encouraged to do, but I suppose it’s especially important for those who work in the field of recruitment.

Some of the candidates I chat to have never worked out of hours, never mind in emergency, and it’s my duty to arm them with as much information as possible. One of the most common questions I’m asked is ‘why should I swap daytime practice for working nights and the odd weekend?’.

Thanks to my experiences in Gillingham and Farnham, I now feel more informed to provide an honest answer. Here’s how it went…

Image of vets working Vets Now's emergency hospital in Glasgow

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Along with my colleague Erinn from our marketing department, we left the Vets Now support office in Dunfermline at 11.30am. Our destination was our busy out-of-hours clinic in Gillingham, Kent.

Within minutes of the journey starting, my imagination went into overdrive.

Would I pass out at the first sight of blood? Would I break down at the prospect of a pet being put to sleep?

Spending time in our clinics is so far removed from my comfort zone and I was genuinely worried that the smells, caseload and emotionally-charged atmosphere would really impact me.

I’m sure some of you are reading this and thinking ‘get a grip woman’ but these visits really were a big deal for me and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my clinical colleagues. What kind of impression would that make?

On arrival in Gillingham, these fears quickly abated as our receptionist took great care to comfort a highly distressed pet owner. It immediately opened my eyes to the harsh realities of emergency veterinary care.

As the evening wore on, the cases continued to come in thick and fast.

During a rare moment of quiet, I asked the team why they chose to work in ECC considering they have to deal with C-sections, pyometras, road traffic accidents, GDVs and animal cruelty cases almost as a matter of routine.

Everyone stated they simply loved the work and relished the challenges of emergency – even though they’re realistic enough to know they can’t save every pet they see.

I was so impressed by the compassion and sensitivity shown to the pet owners who came in that night and blown away by the exceptional service the team provided.

I could see there was a spirit and a camaraderie that only comes from being in the trenches together.

Erinn and I left Gillingham at 10 pm with a sense of both empathy and awe.

Image of Vets Now talent partner Anne Longmire
Anne says she was blown away by the exceptional service the team provided

We couldn’t quite grasp how our vets, vet nurses, animal care assistants and receptionists manage to work in such a demanding environment, and then come back for more the next day. All of the team had our utmost respect.

We arrived at Vets Now in Farnham 90 minutes later. Farnham is known for having an extremely busy and challenging caseload. However, as luck would have it, we only saw one serious emergency during our visit and it was dealt with swiftly and effectively.

Farnham’s senior nurse Kath has been with Vets Now for more than a decade and is considered an expert in her field. Nothing seemed to phase her, she ran a tight inpatient ship and worked in tandem with vet surgeon Charles.

After meeting Kath several times in our support office, it was great to see her in action in her clinic.

Kath’s unflappability certainly confirmed one thing – our strong nursing teams are at the core of the Vets Now family, and our clinics simply couldn’t function without them.

After saying our goodbyes to the Farnham team, Erinn and I set off for Gatwick at 4.30 am.

Granted we didn’t work a full night shift in a particular clinic but both of us felt we had come away with a far better understanding of what it’s like to work at the coalface of Vets Now.

It may sound trite but working as an emergency vet or vet nurse is a calling.

Nothing is ever routine and while there’s clearly lots of satisfaction to be gained from managing emergency cases, only a special breed can thrive in such a challenging environment.

For that reason, Vets Now clinical staff, I salute you. You simply are the best of the best.

For those that stuck with me to the end, you will be pleased to read that I didn’t pass out or make a fool of myself.

I’m incredibly lucky to work for a company that continually adapts, leads from the front and makes a real difference to pets and people every single day through their clinical excellence.

I will continue to attract and engage with veterinary talent while admiring my colleague’s pets from afar. Nothing changes on that front. Now, what clinic shall I visit on my next adventure?

If you’d like to learn more about working for Vets Now, please contact the Talent team on 01383 841181 or email [email protected].