Senior vet Dave explains how AdvantEdge programme sparked his passion for ECC
The Vets Now AdvantEdge programme is a fast-track induction aimed at clinicians who already have a solid foundation of small animal or mixed practice experience, but want an accelerated route into emergency and critical care.
Dave Hollinshead applied for a position on the programme after years of working in mixed and small animal practice, as he realised working out of hours would allow him to spend more time with his family — as well as providing a welcome break from the routine of first opinion practice.
Now, Dave is determined to make the most of his new role as senior vet in Vets Now Sheffield.
In this Q&A, Dave, who lives in Sheffield with his wife Jacqui and their two children, explains how AdvantEdge broadened his horizons and reinvigorated his passion for veterinary medicine.
Are you an experienced vet looking to work in ECC?
The Vets Now AdvantEdge programme is a fast-track induction designed to give you the edge you need to work sole-charge in emergency and critical care.
Give us a brief history of your career?
I started my career in 2011 when I graduated from Cambridge. Since then, I’ve had quite a mix. I started off in mixed practice in Cumbria, moved down to the Sheffield area and then back up to Gateshead. During that time, I’ve worked in mixed practice, small animal only practice, first-opinion, and I’ve also had a non-clinical role mainly auditing clinical notes which, as you can imagine, was quite entertaining. Now, I’m moving into the senior vet role in the Sheffield clinic via AdvantEdge.
What attracted you to apply for a place on AdvantEdge?
I found, probably like a lot of vets, that I got into a bit of a rut around five years qualified. It felt like I was starting to do the same thing over and over again. I guess I was looking for something different, something that could make me enthusiastic about being a vet again. Joining AdvantEdge and seeing people talk about what they’re passionate about and the things we’d be doing made me excited. During the two weeks, we had diploma holders talking to us about all that they do and all the things we can be pushing towards. The things we do in emergency medicine aren’t rocket science, it’s very doable but you just need to have the knowledge to be able to do them. The programme really opened that up.
How have you benefited from the programme?
AdvantEdge has been hugely beneficial, I’ve learned so many new things. It’s been like a big review, you come out of vet school and have so much knowledge and then it ends up funnelling down very quickly into the things you only use every day. This is almost like re-broadening your horizons to make sure that you can start using all of your skills again and implementing them in what you do. I’m sure I’ll be a better vet because of it.
Would you recommend AdvantEdge to others?
I’d recommend AdvantEdge to others that are coming into the emergency area or have been in it for a short period and want to just push the boundaries a little bit. It’s a very intense course. It’s really for the more experienced, but I think it’s hugely beneficial. It just enthuses you a little bit more for the things that you can do and broadens your horizons.
Can you give us a brief overview of the programme?
Most of the teaching has been done by quite a small number of individuals within Vets Now. We’ve had two diplomats telling us about the clinical side of things which has been absolutely excellent, it’s really taken the basics of the equipment and pushed it a lot further. With some of the more common cases that we see, I’m now able to interpret a lot more, reading deeper into things like their blood-work. I’ve become much more of a finessed vet, rather than using the tools and equipment bluntly to get the basic information — it’s definitely about finessing your skills. It’s sharpening your edge, which I suppose is the aim of the programme really.
What topics did you cover?
We covered a lot of emergency presentations and topics like the specifics of emergency bloods and how we interpret those. We juggled a lot of the less clinical stuff as well — we looked at how to cope with night work and particularly communications, not just with our clients but also among what is quite a small team within the night work.
“Vets Now is absolutely second to none for training, there is so much you can do and it is really encouraged.”
Dave HollinsheadSenior Vet
Why do you want to work in ECC?
Variety of reasons. It’s very adrenaline fuelled, so it’s really rewarding. It’s very good for work-life balance as well, while
you’re on shift you’re 100% dedicated to your patients, but the nature of emergency work means when the shift is over you can switch off. Some people think that you don’t get an emotional attachment with your patients working in emergency, and they worry that they’ll miss this — but it’s a very different kind of relationship. I think it’s much harder to get emotional burnout with emergency medicine because you leave at 8 am, and you go home. The shifts are longer which means you have fewer to work, so it works well for a work-life balance. I’ve two small kids — two and four years old — and I can juggle them quite nicely around the shifts.
Why do you want to work for Vets Now?
Vets Now is absolutely second to none for training, and there is so much you can do and it is really encouraged. It pushes for the best standard of care for the patients. For as long as I’m an out-of-hours vet, I’ll be working with Vets Now for that reason.
What makes Vets Now a unique employer?
I’ve worked for a lot of different companies, a lot of different individuals and the face of veterinary is changing quite a lot at the moment. We used to have a lot of individual practices where you always knew the boss, and you knew their values and outlook quite well, whereas now it’s becoming much more groups of practices and it’s much harder to see the people at the top. I think Vets Now is a bit different from other companies. They’ve got strong principles and values that they live day in, day out. They’re good values, and everyone within the business is encouraged to live them. Also, there’s still a personal touch with the senior members of staff. People like Amanda Boag are really accessible whenever you need to speak with them.
What prompted you to make the change now?
Vets Now recently reduced the number of hours vets are expected to work. Principal staff were also given more ‘management hours’ to allow them time to run their clinic. This is great because it means you can start doing more mentored shifts and actually being more of a mentor for the rest of your team. That’s what’s appealed to me and why I’ve finally jumped on board at Vets Now.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’ve come a long way in the last couple of years, so I think I’d like to develop more along the management lines. At the moment I’m in a principal vet role so I will be managing a single clinic. At Vets Now, one of the positives is that we have a huge amount of data from our cases. This means there are lots of opportunity for evidence-based policies. I think we could do a lot with what we’ve got there so I’d like to go into that area.