Expectant mother Caitlin Donovan admits she hasn’t looked back since joining Vets Now Colchester in 2020.


Caitlin is a vet at Vets Now’s thriving clinic in Colchester. Working there gives Caitlin huge satisfaction as ECC medicine is her passion. In this Q&A, Caitlin tells us how her colleagues at the Essex clinic are key to what she does – and how it’s teamwork that really does make the dream work.


What led you to become a vet?

As a kid, I remember saying I wanted to be a vet when I was asked what I wanted to do, and that never changed. I’ve always loved animals and been around them. I grew up with house rabbits, I’ve ridden since I was two and had my own horses since I was nine. I still have horses, as well as three rabbits and two Newfoundlands, Maximus and Meredith.


Where did you study?

I applied to a few places, but I was happy to be offered a place at the RVC, which was my first choice. It was a good experience, and it was there I got a liking for emergency medicine and nights. I graduated in 2015.


And where did you work after that?

I joined a practice that was planning on going 24 hours within the next year and it was very much with the view to becoming their night vet. So, everything was geared towards me taking sole charge in that emergency role, doing later shifts and on-call to build my skill base.

There were many nights after I took charge that were terribly stressful and made me question what I was doing, but they made me the vet I am now.


What is it about nights and ECC work that you like?

It just seems to be my niche. Obviously, there’s a real variety of cases and I like the fact that you always have to think on your feet.

Vets Now Caitlin Donovan with a dog

There's something on the doorstep you need to deal with, so it's good mental gymnastics. And if you have good time management, you can spend more time with the patients and be involved in their nursing care, so it's a more rounded experience.

Caitlin Donovan

What made you move to Vets Now?

At my last practice, I found there was a little bit of a divide between vets who just did occasional nights on a rota and myself who was doing it every week. I wanted to be able to work more within a team all doing the same thing and to develop myself within ECC. I joined in 2020, just a few weeks before the pandemic hit.


How did you find the move?

Because of my night and emergency experience, I went straight in without doing Veterinary Edge. It was more challenging clinically because of the caseload, but I was really supported. I felt comfortable pushing myself and I have definitely progressed in the past couple of years, both in competency and my confidence.

You can always ring around other clinics if you’re not sure about something and access Telehealth to send images overnight, so you are never alone even if you are just on yourself.

Vets Now Nurse with two black dogs on a beach

You said you wanted to be part of a team, how has that experience been?

The nursing team here at Colchester is incredible. They are so clued up and lots of them either have or are working towards certificates. They are actively encouraged and supported to do CPD and get qualifications. It means they can positively challenge you and we foster an environment where the nurses can speak up.

It may be there’s a reason for doing something and you explain that. But it’s impossible to keep up with absolutely everything all the time, so if a nurse has done a CPD course relevant to a case that’s just come in, you want to know. It’s a sharing of knowledge that’s invaluable in making us all better and that had to be good for the patients. When there are demanding or emotional cases, we all stick together and are there for one another.


Have you felt supported with regard to your pregnancy?

They looked after me so well, like working from home when appropriate, and kept me safe.

Vets here have had children while they've been with Vets Now and had promotions while on maternity leave, so it's a positive example.

Caitlin Donovan

I’m not worried at all about being penalised for having been off for a year and needing to settle back in on my return.


So, it’s a move you haven’t regretted?

Definitely not. I’ve really enjoyed it and thrived in this environment. And there is always the opportunity for development, with training available if you want it.

You never stop learning and Cutting Edge is one option I’d consider for the future, possibly when I come back from the maternity leave I’m just starting. It might be a very useful refresher when I return.

And it’s nice that things can be done in-house because of the size of the company, so you feel you all share the same ethos.


You will obviously be focused on the baby now, but have you found the work-life balance you’ve wanted since joining?

It’d have been a nightmare without this job, and I’ve often wondered how I’d have coped.

They will always work with you with regards to flexible working requests and it’s an average of three nights a week for me which gives me so much free time for everything else in my life.