Australian-born Louyen Heng is a vet at Vets Now’s busy Manchester Hospital. She tells how AdvantEdge helped give her the confidence to make the switch to a vet life she loves halfway round the world.

Where are you from and what made you want to be a vet?

I’m from Brisbane and while I always wanted to do something science-based, human health sciences didn’t appeal. But I liked the thought of the variety I’d see as a vet and went to the University of Queensland, graduating in December 2017. The university had an accreditation to the UK, and I knew quite early on I’d like to come here at some stage in my career. Working and travelling really ticked all the boxes.


How did you begin your career?

I spent the first few years in rural south Australia in a mixed practice. While a lot of cases are similar to here, the climate means there are some differences and while mostly it’s cats and dogs, you did see the occasional cow, horse and kangaroo. I did a fair bit of out-of-hours and emergency cases which gave me an indication I had the capacity to do ECC. I loved it, but it was a bit isolated – the nearest big city was three hours away – and I started thinking more about the UK.


When did you move and how did it come about?

I came across to join Vets Now in January 2022 after some really positive discussions with the team. The attraction for me was the variety of caseload, the support I knew I’d get and, very importantly, the work-life balance. I was coming out of a practice where I was doing some OOH emergency work to an environment where I’d be solely doing that and the whole package had to feel right.


Where did you start and when did you do AdvantEdge?

I began at Barton-le-Clay and was there for almost a year. Even before I joined, I knew I wanted to have some structured learning and would be doing Edge. I wanted to make sure the things I had been doing in a different setting would still be relevant and appropriate in a new country. I started the course in May 2022.


Were there advantages to being in clinic before AdvantEdge?

Yes, having a few months in the clinic as a kind of taste test before the course was super helpful. There were some aspects of working there that weren’t clinical and experiencing those was useful. I was also able to build up a list of questions to bring up on Edge, things I knew I wanted to find out more about.


So, how did you find the course?

It was incredibly useful. The lectures from the Diplomats and others involved gave us the very latest information, and you felt you were really up to date. I loved the practical aspects. Learning on the job is very important but having an opportunity to work on your practical skills when it’s not a critical, stressful environment was excellent.


How did you feel at the end of the two weeks?

I felt I was even better prepared for life back at the clinic. It reinforced that what I already knew and was practicing were correct. It also gave me more information on things like cardiology, an area in which hadn’t had too much experience. Overall, I just felt like I knew more and had additional knowledge and skills to take back with me.


Why did you make the move to Manchester after a few more months at Barton-le-Clay?

I think it was just wanting to challenge and develop myself even more. I had never worked in a referral hospital, and it was something I wanted to experience. Working in a big clinic I knew I’d have a chance to follow cases through the duration of their stay. It was professionally rewarding to see how they progressed after you’d admitted them and run your first round of diagnostics. I’m so happy with my decision. I’m loving working with great clinicians and seeing how a well-supported internship programme works. I’m now looking at starting a certificate, probably next year. And, having not lived in a big city since I graduated, I’m enjoying having all the attractions of Manchester on my doorstep. It would be nice if it didn’t rain so much though!


So, would you recommend AdvantEdge to other vets?

Definitely. It’s a great way to get into ECC, giving you knowledge you don’t have as well as reassurance about what you already know.

An image of Vets Now vets on the AdvantEdge programme conducting an ultrasound scan of a dog's stomach for a practical learning session. Image for Vets Now article on achieving potential.

Thinking about AdvantEdge?

Are you a qualified vet with three to five plus years’ experience? Making the move from day practice to Emergency Critical Care (ECC), AdvantEdge gives you all the confidence you need to thrive in an emergency setting.

Learn more about AdvantEdge here