Vicky reflects on her journey from equine science to ECC

Every vet working on the frontline of ECC has a unique story of how they got there. There is no set route into emergency and Vicky Simons is a great example of this.

Having loved horses all her life, she grew up dreaming of becoming an equine vet. But upon achieving her goal, she realised it wasn’t the right path for her. After moving into small animal practice, Vicky decided to pursue her interest in ECC and joined our AdvantEdge induction programme to brush up on her knowledge and learn new skills with the support of her colleagues and lecturers.

Here, Vicky, who is a veterinary surgeon at our Winchester clinic, explains how AdvantEdge has influenced the way she approaches cases in the clinic and how her role at Vets Now has given her more free time to spend with her beloved horses.

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Can you give me a brief history of your career?

I’ve always wanted to be a vet but I didn’t get the grades I needed to get straight into vet school. Back then, I wanted to be a horse vet so I did a degree in equine science and worked as a horse nutritionist for a year between my second and third years. Then I applied to vet school in London and graduated in 2015. I went straight into an equine internship but I soon realised that it wasn’t the kind of veterinary medicine that really interested me. I love horses but some of the work I had to do took the fun out of it and I decided it was best to keep my work and hobby separate. That’s when I made the decision to move into small animal practice. I had been interested in ECC back when I was doing rotations at university and I decided that now was the right time for me to give it a go.

When did working as a vet become an ambition?

Being a vet has been my dream for as long as I can remember. It might seem a bit cliché to say that I went into the job because I love animals but it’s a massive part of it for me. Also, dealing with all the different people that you see on a daily basis and piecing everything together makes it’s a really rewarding job.

What was it that attracted you to the AdvantEdge programme?

I liked the support the programme offered and I saw it as a great refresher of the things I covered at vet school but don’t get a chance to use on a daily basis in day practice. It gave me the opportunity to go back over everything and make sure I’m achieving the highest standards, as well as ask lots of questions.

Image of vet Vicky Simons for Vets Now article on AdvantEdge experiences
Vicky decided to sign up for AdvantEdge as she has had an interest in ECC since her university days

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What did you gain from the AdvantEdge programme?

It reinforced everything that I already knew and showed me the support I have from everyone in my cohort and all the lecturers. It’s also reassuring to know I can go back to them for advice if I need it.

Would you recommend it to others?

I definitely would, it’s been really useful and great fun. It’s a great opportunity to work through cases without the pressure of being in the clinic with the owners and animals in front of you. It sets out your thought process so you’re prepared when you’re faced with the real thing.

What did you learn?

We went over fluid therapy, anaesthesia, analgesia, imaging, exotics, medical cases and surgical cases. We covered everything we could see on a shift-to-shift basis in the clinic and I don’t feel that anything was missed out.

Was there anything you found particularly interesting?

I found it really useful that the course was more concentrated on the emergency cases. When you have to deal with true emergencies in the clinic and you’re out of your comfort zone, it’s reassuring to know you have that additional support and knowledge.

Why did you choose ECC?

I went into this job because I want to use my brain and I like the challenge and the intensity of it all. I like to fix things and I also think I work better under pressure, so it’s the ideal role for me.

Image of the AdvantEdge May 2019 group for Vets Now article
The full AdvantEdge group on their last day in the support office

What makes Vets Now a unique employer?

I have always found that the staff at Vets Now are really happy and well looked after and any issues are dealt with quickly. As a company, it’s very progressive and driven by everyone as a team — you’re never made to feel that your opinion doesn’t count. It’s very supportive and they place a lot of importance on having a good work-life balance by supporting you both in work and outside of work as well. Everyone feels like they’re part of a team and works towards a common goal.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

If you’re thinking about doing it then go for it. Your comfort zone is a nice place to be but if you stay there forever you’ll get bored. It’s worth trying as you’ve got nothing to lose.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I think at the moment I’d like to continue progressing and do my ECC certificate.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

Ever since I was little I’ve been obsessed with horses and my life revolves around them. My partner is actually a jump jockey and I exercise the racehorses in the mornings. Working for Vets Now means I can do that a lot more now, which is brilliant.