Recent graduates Elena, Vittoria, Ellie and Andrew on building confidence and refining knowledge

Taking the leap from student to professional can be daunting for any new graduate, but even more so for vets.

Being responsible for making life or death decisions requires a great deal of knowledge but being able to make those decisions confidently can only come from experience.

That’s why, at Vets Now, we offer a rotating internship programme at our Glasgow and Manchester hospitals, which is aimed at new and recent veterinary graduates who are keen to expand their skills, knowledge and experience in all aspects of small animal practice.

Elena Androutsou (EA), Vittoria di Giacomo (VG), Ellie Jenkinson (EJ) and Andrew Murray (AM) are part of our most recent group of interns. In this round-table interview, they discuss their interests and future plans as well as how they believe the programme will benefit them as they progress in their careers.

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What’s your background?

EA: I developed an interest in surgery during vet school and while on work experience. When I started thinking about my options, I decided an internship would give me good experience working in a referral practice and suit my lifestyle. Also, going from university to general practice is a big step and I see this internship as a foundation year to help me find my feet.

VG: I always thought I would do an internship, then a residency, then a European diploma. So I applied for internships and kept graduate programmes in my mind as Plan B. I wanted to do an internship as it’s a step towards a specialisation and it will also help me decide if it’s what I want to do.

EJ: I did a week-long placement with Vets Now last summer in the Liverpool practice, which I really enjoyed and that encouraged me to get more training in ECC. I would also like to become a specialist in the future so an internship seemed like a logical route to take.

AM: Throughout vet school, I always leaned towards small animal medicine but I wasn’t completely sure whether I wanted to pursue surgery or medicine. I saw the internship as a way to help me decide. Gaining experience in out of hours and emergency is also great. I don’t know whether I’ll go on to do a residency or general practice but the internship will let me explore both aspects.

What was it about an internship that appealed to you?

EA: Learning from qualified, experienced professionals and being taught the best way to care for animals. Doing it straight out of vet school provides an excellent foundation as you learn the best way to do things from the beginning of your career.

VG: I wasn’t ready to be thrown in at the deep end and I wanted to get to a point where I felt comfortable with my technique and knowledge. I decided that an internship would give me that confidence and show me the highest standards for performing procedures.

EJ: Human doctors graduate and then do their foundation year so it just seemed logical to me to do the same. At Vets Now there is more a practical element for the interns rather than just observing, which is even more valuable.

AM: I didn’t want to come out of vet school and stop learning. I wanted to continue learning and refining my knowledge. At Vets Now, I wasn’t just being thrown into it, there are always people around to support you.

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Ellie, Elena, Vittoria and Andrew are optimistic that the internship will build their confidence and knowledge

What attracted you to Vets Now?

EA: I know a vet who did both the rotating and surgical internships and she told me how supportive the environment is. It sounded like something I’d like to be a part of. I also wanted to learn from all the qualified vets too.

VG: Vets Now really emphasised hands-on experience. Plus, Ana Marques, who is now a specialist surgeon in Glasgow, was my mentor at the University of Edinburgh, so when she told me she was joining Vets Now I decided to apply.

EJ: I did my placement with Vets Now, so I was already familiar with the company. I was initially looking into doing the Cutting Edge programme but when I found out there was an opportunity to do an internship I decided that’s what I should do.

AM: I was already booked for EMS in March/April and I was on the Vets Now website when I saw an article about the internship. I was surprised as I hadn’t realised I could do one straight out of vet school but I decided to apply.

As part of the internship, you work out of hours in ECC. What do you think of these shifts?

EA: During vet school, I had one week of out of hours which I was dreading at the time, but I actually ended up enjoying it the most. I feel like I’ll learn more here because it’s so hands-on and I make decisions and take more responsibility.

EJ: It’s a baptism of fire but I found working on emergency cases most exciting, even in general practice, so working only on those cases is a great opportunity.

Is the internship good preparation for working in ECC?

EA: Yes definitely. There are a lot of ECC and out-of-hours shifts at the hospital, but we still have lots of support. At this stage, it’s really important to have that support and build up confidence

VG: It’ll make me tougher and grow a thicker skin. At vet school, although they try to make it tough, we know at the back of our minds that we’re still students and the responsibility doesn’t fall on us. But things are real here, so we have to toughen up and do it.

EJ: Many of my friends are applying for jobs and, interestingly, I’d say the majority of the jobs are advertising ‘no out of hours’ as a selling point. I think it’s crazy not to be able to do out of hours as it’s quite a central skill.

AM: I think it’ll prepare us really well for whatever we want to do and wherever we end up deciding to go, whether that’s general practice or a more academic route. Whatever we decide, it gives us options.

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Our full group of interns at Vets Now's support office in Dunfermline

Where do you see yourself in five years?

EA: As a new graduate, I want to go on a steep learning curve up and have the ability to communicate and be respected by my colleagues and clients. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up but I know that I want to be the best vet, whichever route I choose.

VG: I hope to have a good work-life balance and be happy, confident and healthy, possibly at the end of a residency but we’ll see. I’m just going with the flow at the moment.

EJ: I want to be the best version of myself I can be. I’m not sure where I’ll be as I changed my mind quite a lot during rotations at university, so I think this year will help me figure out what I want to do.

AM: I want to be a small animal vet, comfortable in my work and confident dealing with clients and whatever case comes through the door.

What do you hope to have gained by the end of your internship?

EA: The confidence to put my knowledge into practice. The ability to make decisions without relying on other people. Essentially being able to stand on my own two feet.

VG: It’ll help me figure out what I want to do and where I want to go from here, but mostly it’ll help me become an independent vet, think critically and get smarter at my job.

EJ: I want to consolidate the knowledge that I need and be able to use practical skills to remember that knowledge. Applying the theory in real cases will help reinforce it.

AM: I hope to have a range of experiences of different circumstances to apply in different situations, so we’re prepared for whatever comes our way.

Find out more about our internship opportunities.