ECC didn’t appeal to Nancy during training – until she realised that’s where she can put her skills to best use

Vet surgeon Nancy Montoya had planned to spend a year working in day practice in the UK before returning to the US.

However, after deciding to stay in the UK and realising that day practice work didn’t offer the challenge she needed, she followed in the footsteps of friends and signed up for our Cutting Edge programme.

After completing the 10-week programme, Nancy now works at Vets Now’s thriving Farnham clinic.

Here, Nancy tells us how Cutting Edge was the perfect introduction to ECC medicine.

Vet Nancy treating a dog in the Vets Now clinic
Nancy had originally planned to spend a year in the UK before returning to the US

What’s your veterinary background?

I studied for 10 years to become a vet and have been practicing for four years since. I’m from Los Angeles and the first five years of my studies were in the US, where I did a Bachelor’s at UC Davis in Northern California. After that, I came here and studied at the Royal Veterinary College, graduating in 2017.

How did it feel to be a vet after a decade of work?

It was quite exciting at first, that feeling of having finally got there. But once I learned the ropes as a general practitioner in a small animal practice, I realised it wasn’t actually as exciting as I thought it would be. My plan had been to work a year and head back to the US, but my circumstances changed when I fell in love with Tom, who’s now my husband.

What was it about first opinion work that didn’t really appeal?

When everything is new, you’re always learning and being challenged. But once I settled into a routine of nail clips and vaccinations, I felt I was losing all the knowledge I’d gained because I wasn’t using it. The working environment wasn’t nice either and I knew I had to make a move, so I was delighted when I was accepted on to Cutting Edge.

What was it about ECC medicine?

The funny thing is that during my training, I was sure ECC was what I DIDN’T want to do. Working all alone in the middle of the night seemed scary and I was convinced I didn’t even want to do out of hours work once I graduated. But then I soon realised that’s when you see all the exciting stuff. In my final year of vet school, I had gone to a SPVS conference and Steph Timmons from Vets Now was talking about Cutting Edge. She was so inspiring and other friends who’d been through the program seemed so happy and positive, it was definitely on my radar. I knew if I did that, I wouldn’t be stagnating which was how I was feeling in day practice and I would have a better work life balance.

Tell us about the Cutting Edge course

We started at the Dunfermline headquarters just as Covid really hit. The rest was online and in the clinic which actually worked really well. I didn’t feel that I missed out on anything as it was still very interactive online. As it turned out, Steph was actually my mentor and she was so welcoming and supportive when I got to the clinic. The team I joined in Farnham were superstars and I quickly fit in and thrived in such a supportive environment.     

Nancy with her rescue French Bulldog
Nancy now works in our Farnham clinic, making the most of her skills while having time to enjoy outside of work

How would you sum it up?

Cutting Edge is, without doubt, the best career move I could have possibly made. I was nervous about going into OOH, but Cutting Edge gave me the confidence and the skill set I needed to get out there and do it. It revived the knowledge I already had and added to it enormously. I absolutely love my job and I am excited and ready for anything that comes through that door. 

Have you felt supported?

Absolutely. I have felt that from a mental health and wellbeing perspective there is always someone to talk to if you have a problem. Other companies say they have an open-door policy when that really isn’t the case. Here I can talk to my team, line manager, even the support office if I need it. And the nurses I work with are incredible! There isn’t that “I’m a vet, you’re a nurse” separation. We work as a team and this clinic wouldn’t run without the support of our wonderful nurses. We constantly discuss cases and give each other advice. Even if there is a difficult case, there is always another Vets Now clinic to call for advice giving you that feeling that you are never alone. 

A vet working in a Vets Now clinic

Kickstart your ECC career with Cutting Edge

With a balance of online lectures and practical demos in clinic, our experienced ECC experts will help you grow in confidence and teach you everything you need to thrive in your new role.

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Has your desire to challenge yourself continued?

I just started my BSAVA ECC Certificate in May 2021, so I’ll finish that in 2024. It’s all about keeping on learning. Cutting Edge gives you a brilliant grounding and I’m still seeing cases daily that bring something new, so I always want to learn and strengthen my knowledge and understanding of ECC medicine. I am always striving to be a better vet and the animal’s welfare is my first priority. Vets Now give you every opportunity to improve and I have actively taken on roles to increase clinical standards here in the clinic. 

And are you still enjoying the clinic work?

I absolutely love it. I enjoy coming into work and excited to get stuck in. When I’m on shift, I’ll work to the ends of the earth to give clients and their animals the very best care they can possibly get. When you get a successful outcome, it makes everything I’ve done to get here worthwhile. 

Finally, it’s not all about the clinic, how have you found the work-life balance?

Tom sometimes jokingly asks if I actually work as I seem to be at home a lot! Of course, I do a full-time job, but the shift patterns mean I have such lovely time off to spend with friends and family – and of course my new rescue French Bulldog Daisy. I feel like I have a really relaxed lifestyle. 

Are you a qualified veterinary surgeon, but new to the world of ECC? Don’t let lack of confidence stop you from leaping forward in your veterinary career. With Cutting Edge, you’ll spend the first few weeks of your role learning everything you need to know about life in ECC.

Find our more here.