Senior emergency vet on what makes 24/7 hospital a special place to work

Vets Now’s emergency and specialty hospital in Swindon is unique in many ways.

Not only does it play host to the country’s leading exotic referral service, it’s also home to a dedicated team of emergency vets and vet nurses who treat emergency and critical care cases 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Our lead ECC veterinary surgeon in Swindon is Kate Russell, an advanced practitioner with vast experience in emergency veterinary medicine.

Content marketing manager Iain Harrison spoke with Kate, 43, to learn more about her role.

Image of Kate Russell for Vets Now Swindon article
Kate is our lead ECC veterinary surgeon in Swindon
Tell me about the service you offer in Swindon?

In short, the hospital offers veterinary practices in the local area access to our emergency and critical care service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It means partner practices can transfer an emergency case at any time, rather than just the traditional out of hours, perhaps if they have a busy schedule or if they feel they do not have the right facility or staff levels to manage a critical patient. So, we’re still the same out-of-hours and emergency service our partner practices use and know but, unlike our other clinics, we’re here 24/7.

How did you end up at Vets Now in Swindon?

I came through Vets Now’s Cutting Edge programme in 2010 and then worked as an out-of-hours emergency vet in a number of clinics. After five years I left to work in general practice, doing routine appointments, consultations and operations and, while I enjoyed it, I felt there would be limited opportunities to progress. It was then I discovered that Vets Now in Swindon was to become a 24/7 centre and they were looking for an Advanced Practitioner to lead the service.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

In Swindon, because we’re open 24/7, we have a unique opportunity to see patients from the beginning of treatment until they go home, as long as the daytime vet is happy for the patient to stay with us. It’s a pleasure to see these cases all the way through. It’s also great for the patients as they don’t need to be stressed out with unnecessary journeys.

Image of Kate Russell Vets Now's emergency vet Swindon
Kate hard at work in our emergency and specialty hospital in Swindon
What enticed you to work in emergency and critical care?

I’ve enjoyed working with critically-ill patients for as long as I’ve been a vet. When I started practising I was working in a big, busy clinic with lots of patients and doing some of out-of-hours shifts. I really enjoyed the emergency side of the role.

Why did you choose to work for Vets Now?

I wanted to take the next step in my career. I called Vets Now to ask whether they had anything available and, at the time, they were planning to launch the first ever Cutting Edge programme. I signed up and it was a lot of fun. Like many vets I love learning and, of course, all of the lecturers on the programme were well-known in the profession. My first placement was in Guildford and while life in the clinic was very different to the classroom, I really enjoyed it.

Tell me about your career journey since completing Cutting Edge?

After Guildford, I moved to Farnham which is one of Vets Now’s busiest clinics. During my time in Farnham, the position of senior vet became available. Going into management had never been a huge ambition, but I decided to apply. I worked with a great team in Farnham for a good while before moving to Winchester in the same role. After five years of working out of hours, I made the difficult decision to leave and go back to first-opinion work.

Where do you see Swindon in five years?

My greatest hope is to work alongside a dedicated, stable and happy team who are kept motivated and stimulated by the varied caseload they see and that the local veterinary community, as well as their clients, find our service helpful.