John Remnant qualified three years ago and went into mixed practice in Cornwall. It was a practice he knew well, having done school work experience there and subsequently much of his EMS. After 18 months, he wanted to concentrate on large animal practice, and decided to move on
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I WAS very lucky with my first job: I joined Luxstowe Vets, a 10-vet mixed practice in Liskeard. I had first visited the practice as a teenager to do work experience, and as a veterinary student did my EMS there. As graduation approached, the practice offered me a job. Initially, I was unsure about going home to work, but the opportunity was too good to miss.
In hindsight, I should not have worried about being close to home. I moved into a practice house, and having my family and friends nearby in my first job was great. The other major advantage was that I knew the practice and the staff knew me – both our expectations were accurate.
The practice was very supportive, and I gradually improved my skills across medicine and surgery for all the species we dealt with. As well as good clinical development and support, the practice provided a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. There was an active social side too, through the recent graduates and younger support staff. I would consider this to be important in any future job, as being a vet can be stressful, but working with people you like makes a big difference.
Moving on was not an easy decision: I was very happy, but had become increasingly interested in working with farm animals. While the practice had a high farm animal caseload and partners who were keen to support me in doing more, there was, inevitably, a large amount of small animal work too. I wanted to concentrate on the area I was most interested in. I also felt that I wanted to experience other practices and ways of working.
My motivation to move was more about self-development than just for the sake of leaving my existing job, and for this reason I was selective about the jobs that I applied for. I was looking for a position that would enable me to develop my interest in farm animal work, particularly herd health medicine, and I was keen to try something a bit different.
I kept an eye on the Careers section of Veterinary Record, as well as speaking to people at CPD events and conferences. Keeping an open mind and talking to as many people as you can about what opportunities are available is essential – you never know where this might lead. A number of positions were advertised that looked appealing, and I applied for several – some at universities and others in private practice. I was successful in a few and unsuccessful in others.
In the end, I had to choose between a position in a private practice and one with Langford Veterinary Services. It was a difficult decision, but I concentrated on which position best fulfilled what I had initially decided that I wanted. This can be difficult after the excitement of interviews and seeing what opportunities present themselves. I felt that the job at Langford would offer me the support and opportunity to develop my skills in herd health medicine, as it had a strong track record in this area, as well as providing ‘something a bit different’ by being a teaching institution. The position also suited me better geographically.
It was an exciting time at Langford: the clinical services had recently been taken over by Langford Veterinary Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Bristol. Taking this role meant that I would also have the opportunity to become involved in practice progression and development in this new environment.
I am lucky to be in the position of having had two good jobs since graduating. I have learned many things by changing jobs, particularly having not been through the normal job-hunting/job application process with my first job.
My advice to others thinking of moving practice would be to:
■ Concentrate on identifying why it is you want to change jobs; particularly if you are happy where you are.
■ Think about what it is you think you will gain by moving, and make sure this is in the front of your mind when making decisions on which jobs to apply for. For example, if you wanted to improve your work/life balance rather than to increase your salary.
■ Don't feel you have to accept a job if it doesn't provide what you are looking for.
■ Talk to people and keep an open mind. If you are unsure whether an advertised job is what you are looking for, call the phone number in the advertisement and ask about it.
I suspect a lot of potential farm animal vets are put off by what they perceive may be a lack of caseload and support in mixed practice, although that was not my experience.
Finally, don't give up on what you want to do.
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