After years of general practice followed by an intense internship, Owain Davies has finally found the veterinary role he loves best.
As Principal Vet at Vets Now’s highly respected 24-hour Newport clinic, he’s challenging himself with cases while enjoying being part of the most inclusive and supportive team. (And with plenty of time for surfing on the nearby Gower peninsula it’s a perfect work-life balance).
Having always wanted to be a vet, Owain did his studies at the University of Cambridge.
“I was very fortunate to land the place there,” said Owain. “It’s a six-year course, so it is longer, and it was hard work.
“But with a smaller year group, it was a lovely opportunity.”
Owain graduated in 2016, moved back to Swansea and then spent four years at small animal practices there and in Bristol.
Seeing the same kind of routine cases day after day started to take the shine off and, having enjoyed the limited experience he’d had of emergency work, he began to pick up a few locum shifts at Vets Now Newport.
“The variety and never knowing what’s going to come in is what stands out about ECC for me,” said Owain.
“They tend to be more interesting cases you can work up more fully and that really appeals to me. I could feel from the first few shifts that it was a bit of a step up from the day-to-day work I’d been doing.
“In general practice I’d reached a point where I wasn’t really learning much more. You can reach a comfort zone where you’re a little bit stagnant.”
Backed up by the support of the large, collaborative team at Newport, Owain was happy to make the move into ECC with the knowledge and experience he had behind him
(For vets looking to take the plunge into ECC but still keen on additional support and learning, Vets Now’s acclaimed Edge programmes are a great step).
Within six months, Owain had taken up a full-time role before his desire to further his learning saw him move to the University of Liverpool for a rotating internship.
“It was a great opportunity, and I learned a lot,” said Owain. “Although it was pretty intense, with a lot of night work, it made me a much better vet.”
But the appeal of Vets Now, working at a high level and making an immediate difference, was too strong to resist, and after a year he returned to Newport, this time as Principal Vet.
Although Newport isn’t a referral hospital like Vets Now Glasgow, Manchester and the newly opened Blaise in Birmingham, it is open 24 hours and that has a strong attraction.
“It’s unique in that we get to retain our patients,” said Owain. “Rather than transferring patients back to their own practices, we retain many and can work them up more fully.
“You can do more investigations and you can do surgeries through the night without thinking about a morning deadline. The continuity of care is a nice thing to have.”
Vets Now Newport, which is just off the M4 motorway, is one of the largest emergency hospitals in the south-west.
Daytime at the clinic is a mix of in-patient work and emergency arrivals, with 6pm seeing the switch to being the vital OOH provider for dozens of practices over a wide area.
There’s currently a tight knit team of 10 full-time vets as well as the full contingent of invaluable nurses, ACAs and reception staff – all of which makes for a busy, varied and, vitally, well-supported veterinary life.
“There are always at least two vets on in the peak times, so you are very rarely going to be by yourself,” said Owain.
“There will be techniques and procedures more suited to a 24-hour hospital that you may not routinely have in other Vets Now clinics, for example central venous catheters and feeding tubes.
“But, on top of all that, it’s the supportive culture that makes this place so special. We really try to ensure anyone we take on is a good person who will fit into our team.”
When Owain is away from the clinic, he’ll often be found in the waters off the Gower peninsula, enjoying his surfing.
With day shifts options, weekend-only and twilight shifts possible at Newport, that kind of work-life balance can hold a similar appeal for any vet looking at the world of EEC.