Naomi Evans BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS is loving life as a vet at Vets Now’s thriving Hemel Hempstead clinic. It’s actually a very different career path to the one she thought she’d follow, but Naomi says Cutting Edge has helped her make the switch to Emergency Critical Care medicine.
Was a veterinary life always your plan?
I’ve always been interested in animals and wildlife, something that was passed on by my mum. I spent a lot of time holidaying on a farm from a very young age and my mum had horses, so we shared that love.
What were your first steps?
I did a degree in bio-veterinary science at Harper Adams University, which was very much agricultural research based and gave me a lot of exposure to veterinary pharmaceuticals. I then spent a year’s placement in the research department at Westpoint Farm Vets, as large animals and horses was very much my background, as well as doing other research projects.
Was this always with the intention of becoming a vet?
I was keeping my options open and considered doing a PhD, but I had some amazing tutors at Harper, and they suggested applying for veterinary at the Royal College. I started the accelerated graduate programme in 2015, doing the four-year degree and qualifying in 2019.
What did you consider doing?
I was a bit confused, as I’d enjoyed equine placements because of my love of horses, I liked my large animal and I’d had an exciting taste of Emergency Critical Care at RVC. So, I took a mixed animal position in Nottinghamshire soon after graduating which I thought would help combine equine, large and small animal work. We did our own out-of-hours, so I quickly learned to deal with all kinds of emergencies. I loved the ECC and internal medicine side, being able to work up my own cases.
What led you to make the move to Vets Now?
There were several different factors. I’m always looking for a new challenge and this, combined with the difficulties faced both professionally and personally because of the COVID pandemic, meant that I was keen to make a change. I needed to realign my work-life balance, spend more time with my family, friends and my beloved animals. Just at the perfect time, I saw the Cutting Edge course on Facebook. I’ve found things have cropped up when I needed them, and this was like a bit of sign.
How did you find the Cutting Edge course?
Cutting Edge was an incredible course and it’s given me the skills I need to tackle so many situations. I think I may have been able to go into ECC without it because of my exposure to OOH, but this gave me confidence. I loved the course and it really helped with the transition. The whole thing was perfect, the lecturers we had as well as being with the other vets on the course.
Everything was so supportive, both at Dunfermline and at Hemel Hempstead, where the vets, nurses and whole team were really welcoming. You could tell they wanted you to be able to push yourself but not have anything affect you negatively.
Were there any particular elements of the course that stood out for you?
Mainly the practical lectures. The surgical weekend was phenomenal, so much so I’d do it again. It really gave me skills to deal with certain surgical problems. There were also specific ECC things I wouldn’t have had from general practice. The content overall was so good it felt like I was doing a mini certificate in 10 weeks. You were getting what you’d cover in a certificate, just snipped down.
For someone who gets bored and wants mental stimulation, it definitely fulfilled that. I think a lot of people are scared of ECC because they worry about what they might be presented with and feel they may not have the skills or equipment. But you still do what you’ve been taught at university, the head to tail examination, just in a logical step-by-step fashion.
What was it like starting at Hemel Hempstead?
The nurses at Vets Now Hemel Hempstead are brilliant, just so lovely, and I immediately felt like a part of the team. You think that may not be the case if you are on in sole charge with one nurse, but when you get together for handovers and rounds you are very much a team. I still get the chance to see everybody and have that team feeling and being part of a community.
You spoke about the time pressures in your previous role, how is the work-life balance now?
It’s so much better. I’ll still fill my time and add things to my plate, but the difference is that I feel like I’m in control and I can decide what I want to do. I’m doing an internal medicine certificate I’d previous started on my own and I can fit that in. And once I finish that I’d look to do my ECC and look at what else I could do to further my education. I’m so glad I came to Vets Now. It’s changed my life. I feel valued, and that has a huge impact on your mental health.