Starting her vet journey in the whirlwind of 2020, Mollie Bailey-Sale dived right into the deep end at a not-for-profit clinic. From locuming adventures to a Uni of Bristol stint, she’s found her groove in emergency care at Vets Now. Her AdvantEdge experience? A blend of hands-on sessions, invaluable online learning, and finding a second family in her colleagues.

We caught up with Mollie to discuss her ECC journey.


Tell us a little about your career so far.

I graduated in 2020, which proved an interesting start to my career. I worked at a small animal not-for-profit vet in the Midlands which, much like everywhere at the time, was facing some significant staffing challenges. We had a super high caseload which meant I had to build my clinical confidence quickly; in fact, being the kind of person that enjoys sink or swim scenarios, this somewhat suited me! Whilst there, I was able to set up a partnership between our practice and Street Vet, which I am proud to say is still operating today. I then spent some time locuming on the Isle of Wight and successfully applied for a rotating internship at the University of Bristol, where I gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Veterinary Clinical Practice.


What led you to become a vet?

Quite honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a vet! It feels like it has always been my life’s purpose. I remember Sundays when I was little always used to involve dragging my parents from garden centre to garden centre to look at all the animals. I got my first job at a petting zoo when I was 10 years old and managed to convince a friend from school to let me help with lambing on her farm when I was 12. From then on, I spent the rest of my summer holidays doing anything and everything I could in the animal world. It’s lead me to some weird and wonderful experiences. I then took an unconventional route into veterinary as I studied abroad for my undergraduate degree and have to say I very much enjoyed taking the path less travelled and am so grateful to be where I am now.


When did you develop an interest in ECC?

Six months after I graduated, gaps in our OOHs rota and a lot of begging and pleading on my part meant I was able to convince management to allow me to start taking on sole charge twilight and night shifts. It was on these shifts that I felt I was really able to come into my own as a clinician. I found you got to spend more time with the clients and patients, I enjoyed that there was more variety in the cases seen and I gained confidence in my decision making as I had to shed the security blanket of always deferring to more senior member of staff when faced with a dilemma!

I could really see scope for progression and advancement that isn’t always available with nights work.

Mollie Bailey-Sale
What brought you to Vets Now?

If I am to be entirely honest, I started locuming for Vets Now Bristol as a cash strapped intern trying to make ends meet and had no serious intention of working for the company longer term… but all that changed once I’d done my first few shifts! I found as a company Vets Now delivered a really high standard of clinical care and I was consistently impressed by the knowledge and skill set of their permanent members of staff. The company seemed to invest in creating opportunities for their staff to learn and grow and it really showed in the service delivered. I could really see scope for progression and advancement that isn’t always available with nights work.


When did you do AdvantEdge?

I completed the AdvantEdge course in November 2023 having already spent a few months at my Vets Now clinic.


AdvantEdge is delivered as a mix of online and in-person sessions. What did you find most useful?

Both the online and the face-to-face content was useful and well-delivered; however, I would say the face-to-face had the edge for me! I enjoy being able to discuss ideas, get involved in practical labs and have the opportunity to get to know my colleagues a little better.


If you had to pick one main takeaway message from training, what would it be?

We learnt lots of really valuable clinical information, but I would say the main takeaway away message would be that whether your problem is clinical, personal or professional, whether it’s midday or midnight, there is always someone in the Vets Now team that’s on hand to help you if you’re struggling!


Peer support is part of the program. Do you keep in touch with any of your colleagues?

Yes! We keep in touch via our online chat and we’re planning a reunion next month.


How have you settled into your clinic?

I have settled really well in clinic. I love the team I work with, and everyone has been so welcoming. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive, and I can’t thank my team enough for all their support.


What do you enjoy about emergency practice?

I enjoy that you get to be there for people and their pets at time when no one else can be. The stakes can be high but that makes the successes even more rewarding when managed successfully! You really form a strong bond with the team around you and you can almost guarantee a varied and interesting caseload that will push you out of your comfort zone.

It’s also great getting to find out more about what the company has to offer, network with other ECC professionals and make some friends in other clinics

Mollie Bailey-Sale
How are you finding adjusting to night work and work-life balance?

Having come straight from an internship, I have found the work-life balance a breath of fresh air! Prior to starting for Vets Now, I had previously done night shifts in blocks of 5-7 nights, with a longer period of downtime between shifts, and I was apprehensive about how I would adjust to the Vets Now pattern. I was surprised to find that doing fewer shifts in a row with less downtime between shifts was actually far less draining! You never really switch fully into night mode so your body doesn’t have to struggle to switch back to day mode, meaning you can actually enjoy the time you do have off. Me being me, I’ve managed to fill all the extra free time I have with studying for an ECC certificates and taking part in the Vets Now Speaker Training programme… but I only have myself to blame there!


Would you recommend AdvantEdge to other vets interested in ECC and why?

Definitely! Everyone can take something from it. For me I felt comfortable with the theoretical knowledge but felt there were areas I wanted to improve practically. For example, prior to starting with Vets Now I had never managed a GDV, and whilst I felt confident of the theory, I was anxious about performing the surgery for the first time on my own. But when the time came and had my first GDV in practice I found the cadaver session on AdvantEdge had prepped me well and I was able to take the patient to theatre with confidence. It’s also great getting to find out more about what the company has to offer, network with other ECC professionals and make some friends in other clinics.


Tell us about an interesting case you have managed in the past few months.

I had an initially quite standard emergency presentation; a 12yr old staffy with a haemoabdomen secondary to ruptured splenic mass. What was cool about this case was that the mass was approximately the size of football, adhered to the stomach /intestines and had a scary amount of neovascularisation. With some delicate surgery and a blood transfusion, the patient has now returned to full health and the mass was found to be benign!