Just a couple of years after graduation, vet Becky Cusselle was already feeling constrained by her veterinary life and not enjoying the routine of general practice. Now Becky has found a new joy and challenge as part of the team at Vets Now’s Ashford clinic in Kent. Key to making that crucial change was taking part in Cutting Edge, the renowned 10-week paid induction programme to help vets thrive in ECC medicine. 

Vet surgeon Becky Cusselle holding a dog

What’s your veterinary background?

Like a lot of vets, I didn’t really have a plan B – well, apart from being a professional footballer! That didn’t look to be a viable option, and when I went to do work experience at a vet practice when I was 14, that really confirmed what I wanted to do. I went to study at Liverpool University and graduated in 2021. There wasn’t a set ECC course within my studies, but for the last couple of years I did part-time work doing out-of-hours and that’s when I got my first taste of it. I hadn’t qualified yet, so I couldn’t make any clinical judgements, but it did make me think it was a path I could go down. 


What did you do after graduation?

I went into day practice in Ashford as I wanted to get some experience. I had thought I might want to go down the exotic route, so it was a practice that did some exotic work. We saw pet reptiles and birds as well as some zoo cases like lemurs and meerkats and quite a bit of wildlife such as badgers, hedgehogs and foxes. But after a couple of years, I realised that definitely wasn’t for me and not what I wanted to do. That’s when I saw the advert for Cutting Edge, knew it was time for a change and I decided to go for it. 


Do you think you’d have made the move into ECC without Cutting Edge?

To be honest, having been graduated only for a couple of years, I did think I maybe wasn’t experienced enough to go straight into it without the Edge programme. That was particularly the case with the surgery side of things so, no, I probably wouldn’t have applied. I think it’s a brilliant thing for vets who are just two or three years qualified and need that guidance to get into emergency work. 


How did it work out?

There were 12 of us on the course I did last August, and it was nice that everyone was at the same kind of stage in our careers but had very different veterinary backgrounds. We were at lovely lodges at Loch Leven and within a couple of days we had got to know each other and were all comfortable together. We started with a couple of weeks at the support office which eased us in on the basic practical stuff, refreshing things you may have forgotten from university, before you go on to clinic blocks, online and back to Dunfermline for another couple of weeks. You have the chance to see what you’ve been learning applied in real-life situations. 

Interested in Cutting Edge?

Learn more about our 10-week paid induction programme to help vets thrive in ECC.

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Vet Becky outside with a dog sitting on her knee

Was there anything you particularly valued learning about?

The ultrasound practical sessions were really good. I wasn’t a fan of imaging and had probably tried to avoid the ultrasound machine, but the course gave me the confidence to start using it much more. And the surgery weekend was so good. It went through things I hadn’t done before, like GDVs and how to place a chest drain.  


So, a few months on from Edge and starting in clinic, how are you finding it?

I’ve definitely made the right decision! This is much more me. At my previous job I was getting to the point where I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I was doing the same things, and the routine side of veterinary medicine wasn’t for me. Now I go to work and never know what’s going to come through the door. For some people that’s probably quite scary, but I don’t find it intimidating. I actually look forward to it and feel like I’m making a difference. It’s not like a day vet where an animal comes in for a booster, here they have come to see me because they are sick. Even if it’s just vomiting, I can help stop that, or it might be talking to owners and giving them the peace of mind that everything will be okay and that can make a world of difference. At the other extreme, you have cases where the patient is probably going to die that night unless I do something, and you get so much satisfaction when you are able to step in. 


And is there something you learned on Edge that you’ve been able to put into practice since?

There have been so many things! I did my first blood transfusion recently and Edge was so helpful. I actually got out my Cutting Edge presentation and went through it step by step. I was also able to call one of our hospitals to ask a couple of questions, but the majority came straight from what I had learned. It gave me everything from typing the dog to ordering the blood and how to physically give it to him. The dog had a very serious disease and sadly he did ultimately die, but that was a week later and not that night. By giving the transfusion, he was able to go home and spend precious time with his family.


So, no regrets about joining ECC?

None. I’m really enjoying my time and can see myself staying long term. Yes, I work nights but that means I’m home most days, I can get out for walks with my dog and still play my football. I’m just carrying on getting experience at the moment, but I’m already starting to think about doing a certificate.