At Vets Now we’re used to covering the night shift, but we also work weekends. For some of our clinical staff, in fact, weekend work is a bit of a speciality. We talked to Amy Jones, a veterinary surgeon at our Liverpool clinic, to learn more about why and how weekend shifts work for her.

Tell me about how you got started in your veterinary career.

I did not have a typical entry into the field. I’m originally from Montana in the States, and I went to school in California. I had a few different jobs before deciding I wanted to go back to be a vet. I actually got started in the field as a vet nurse before going back for my veterinary degree as a mature student, and that was a great practical introduction to how things work in a clinic.

What brought you over to the UK?

I was in my early thirties by the time I’d finished vet school and still living in the States when I met my husband, who is also a vet but had entered into more of an academic pathway. When he finished the higher degree he was working on in the States we moved over here. Aside from the first couple of years of my career, I’ve always practiced in the UK.

Amy Jones of Vets Now

How did you get into weekend shifts?

I’d been working in daytime practice and then my husband got a job up in the northwest. At that point I was pregnant so didn’t feel like I could start a new role only to leave in a few months’ time. And then I found myself a stay-at-home mum of two small children, who we were also home-educating at the time – so I was really at home! There were a few years where I hardly worked at all, maybe picking up the occasional locum shift, and it can really knock your confidence.

As my children got a bit older, I started thinking more about going back to work. My husband was teaching at this stage, so he had a standard daytime work schedule. I started locuming for a few shifts a week in all the clinics local to us, including Liverpool where I work now.

I really liked the pace and variety at Liverpool, and Gill Burkhill, who was the Principal Vet there at the time, suggested I could look at permanent part-time work. I hadn’t even known that it was an option; I didn’t realise there was this position in between full-time and locuming. As the kids were still in school, full-time wasn’t an option for me but part-time would work. But switching between night shifts in the week and daytime weekend shifts was tough, so I settled with my current weekend schedule.

What are some of the advantages of weekend work?

It works really well for work-life balance with kids at home of course, but I also do enjoy being off-sync from most of the rest of the world- you can go to the shops mid-week when it’s not so busy. Which this time of year really helps!

And the shifts on the weekend are ten hours, so they are a bit shorter than the midweek night shifts. We also now have back shifts on the weekend. So there is a lot of flexibility that you can have between all the different working patterns.

What do you like about working within emergency and critical care?

I always knew I liked emergency, as I used to work emergency shifts as a young grad. But honestly, at that stage in my career I didn’t totally have the confidence, so I was primarily in daytime practice before I started my family.

I now work in Liverpool and it’s a very, very busy clinic, which is what I love about it. I just love the pace and the idea that you never know what’s going to come through the door next. I’m not very good with routine maintenance. I like being presented with a problem to fix in the moment. But that’s a great thing about the field of veterinary medicine, you can find your niche.