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Ten-minute chat
  1. Freda Scott-Park

Abstract

Freda Scott-Park is a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. She is married to a farmer and lives near Loch Lomond.

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How did you get to where you are today?

I wanted to be a vet from about the age of four. This was probably stimulated by the biannual visit of the vet to the farm that my father managed in East Africa. It was a day of great excitement, gathering the stock and visiting all the different groups of animals.

After five years at the Dick Vet as an undergraduate, I was offered the chance to complete a PhD in canine cardiology, which I reluctantly embarked on, found incredibly lonesome to complete, but have never regretted. It has opened all the doors that have led to my current role as a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry.

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What made you work for the pharmaceutical industry?

By accident really – I was sponsored through my PhD by a pharmaceutical company (my research was unrelated to any of their products), and in return I worked as a veterinary surgeon for them during investigations into novel cardiovascular medicines. Five years earlier, my father had died from a heart attack aged 62, and I found myself helping to develop medicines that, without doubt, would have prevented his death. It was a defining moment for me, and despite spending time in mixed practice, teaching VNs and doing occasional locum work for the PDSA, I find my work for the pharmaceutical industry most stimulating.

What do you like about your job?

I have developed expertise in reading ECGs from the investigation into novel pharmaceutical compounds before their use is extended into clinical trials in humans. I work to exacting standards of good laboratory practice, and my reports are of critical importance to the company developing the new compound. I am well paid for my opinion, and in return I offer a professional service with comprehensive reports. My job satisfaction stems from the sense of providing an essential service, and from the mutual respect that exists between me and the companies I work for.

How do you spend a typical day?

I don't have a typical day!

Why is your job important?

My job is critical to the family income since dairy farming is in such a dire state: revenue from outside the farm is what keeps the farms going.

As a veterinary surgeon working for the pharmaceutical industry, I have always felt comfortable, but the industry is viewed with suspicion by some. This is unfortunate since vets can make a huge contribution to a better understanding of animal welfare.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career?

Go into practice first, but remember that not all veterinary graduates fit the practice ‘shoe’. There are many avenues that vets can explore, and working for the pharmaceutical industry is guaranteed to be stimulating, challenging and will put your considerable intelligence to good use.

What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Experience is the best teacher: if you don't try something, you cannot learn to love doing it; if you don't try something, you cannot learn to avoid doing it.

What are your proudest moments?

Taking up the BVA Presidency, which I did a few years ago, and being awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

I was enjoying a wonderful venison steak with a garnish of enormous blueberries in very polite company. I stabbed a piece of fillet and a blueberry with my fork. The blueberry burst open and sprayed purple juice down the front of my white shirt. There was little I could do to remove it or hide it. The company was so polite nothing was said – actually, a good giggle would have been more reassuring.

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