Romanian-born Monica Borta wasn’t even sure she wanted to be a vet when she was at school. A career as a lawyer beckoned, but she now heads up a team as Principal Vet at Vets Now’s busy Coventry clinic. Monica tells us how her career has blossomed, and the key role Vets Now’s successful AdvantEdge programme played along the way.
So, legal not veterinary matters were originally on your mind?
I grew up in Bucharest and my family always had cats and dogs, so there was definitely an appeal with working with animals. But I actually thought about being a lawyer – until I saw how scary the studies looked! I went to vet school instead and graduated in 2015. There is a module on emergency medicine now, but there wasn’t at the time, so I didn’t have much exposure to ECC.
And what did you do after graduation?
I was working in a clinic, but I knew I wanted to learn and do more and that meant working abroad. I chose the UK after speaking to a friend who came to England. I spent my first couple of years working as a vet at a meat production facility, but I really didn’t enjoy it and, when I got a chance, I took a job at Vets4Pets in Sutton Coldfield. That took me back to being in a clinic, which is what I liked, but the hours started to take their toll and I just didn’t have the quality of life I wanted. I was finishing late most nights and that was putting a pressure on my family. My son, who was only four or five at the time, was telling my partner how much he was missing me because I wasn’t there for bedtimes. I was missing out on the important moments of being a mum and the work-life balance just wasn’t right.
Where did you then?
I moved to the PDSA in Birmingham because the hours were better and that’s where I first came across Vets Now who shared the same building. I found myself chatting to the team who were all so friendly. We’d discuss interesting cases and swap opinions, and I liked it so much I started to do some locum shifts. I loved that adrenaline buzz of dealing with what came in, being able to do more for the animals, and I joined full-time in 2020.
How did you find AdvantEdge?
It was so focused on cases. You would have a presentation and then go through exactly what you should do. It told you what problems you might encounter and then what medication or treatment you should administer. Everything was geared towards real-life situations you would be faced with in the clinic. When I did it, it was online due to Covid, but now it’s face-to-face again.
Then there was an opportunity to gain practical surgical experience. Everyone was so supportive, and you always felt there was someone on hand to ask anything. Because I already had quite a bit of veterinary experience, it was ideal for me rather than Cutting Edge.
What did you feel you got from it?
Confidence. Just being more certain of keeping your focus in an emergency situation. Not getting flustered or in a panic and knowing that if you think logically then you will find the solution. If you work through things systematically then that will bring its own outcome. I was more prepared for life in ECC at the end of it and I’d definitely recommend it for other vets.
How did the move to Coventry come about?
I initially moved just to cover the vet who was on sabbatical, and I thought it would be good experience. When she decided not to return, I was delighted to get PV role permanently. I’ll have been here a year this summer and I really enjoy it. I like the organisational side and because I’m quite an open person, I always make sure the staff can come and talk to me if they have any problems.
And I love how quickly you can make a difference to the patients in ECC. You can see an animal come in in pain and quickly, because of what you’ve done, they can be heading back out wagging their tail. That’s a lovely feeling.
And finally, is your work-life balance better than it used to be in day practice?
Much better. I work a couple of weekends a month or a couple of weekdays, which gives me a lot of time for the family. It means I’m here for my son a lot more and with time to be a mum.