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Ten-minute chat
  1. Sarah Baird


Isabelle Vets on the island of Guernsey was the first practice to pledge to raise money for Petsavers under the charity's 40th anniversary initiative asking practices to pledge to raise £200 annually. Sarah Baird was the vet who signed the practice up

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What made you sign the pledge?

Petsavers is a charity that I have always been interested in, ever since my first job – I worked for Tony Barnes in Folkestone for nine years after I qualified in 1985. Tony was very involved with Petsavers, and I can remember spending all day on the Petsavers stand at Crufts promoting the charity. The main surgery at Isabelle Vets was redeveloped in 2013, so we had a tough time coping with building work, and when it was completed we felt that we needed a more positive and outward-looking focus. I like that Petsavers funds research into clinical problems, so that the results can directly affect how I work, and that experimental animals are not used. I had read about the Petsavers £200 pledge and thought that it would be a good idea.

How will the practice raise the money?

So far we haven't decided definitely how we will raise the money this year, but all of the staff members are keen to get involved. We think that we should play to our strengths, so while two of the vets will be in a relay team competing in the Guernsey marathon in August, the rest of us think that having a cake and craft stall at a summer event would be a good idea!

Tell us about your job

I was born and raised in Guernsey, so after working in Folkestone I ‘came home’ and have been working at Isabelle Vets ever since. We are a mixed practice with eight vets, but I do only small animal work; I particularly enjoy working with rabbits and other small furries. I also do some administration in the practice, for example, for the Practice Standards Scheme, nurse training and insurance claims, all of which is challenging but (mostly) rewarding.

Why is your job important?

My job is important to me for a number of reasons. I do love working with animals, but also I enjoy working as part of a team with nurses, receptionists and administrative staff, all aiming to provide the best possible service for our clients and their animals. I enjoy using the knowledge and experience that I have gained over the years, and also trying to learn about new techniques and treatments. And I value being part of a practice that gives back to the local community, whether by doing talks for organised groups or in schools, supporting the local animal rescue organisations, or taking part in local events.

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

Do it! I organise the students who come into the practice for work experience and EMS, and I know how hard it is to get into vet school now. I think students have to be realistic about their prospects, they need really good A-level grades, but being a vet is such a worthwhile profession. But I think that many students don't realise what an advanced and technical job veterinary nursing is, and I think this is also a career that they should consider – I am often in awe of the knowledge and abilities of our veterinary nurses.

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

Regarding veterinary work, I can't remember exactly who said this to me (it was one of the vets who I saw practice with) and it was two bits of advice: ‘Be honest with yourself. If you don't know what's wrong with an animal or you can't do something, ask for advice or help; veterinary medicine is about team work, not individual glory.’ Also ‘Common things commonly occur’ – don't go looking for the unusual.'

. . . and your most embarrassing moment?

I was still quite a new vet, and it was a really busy day. I had x-rayed a dog with a forelimb lameness – I can't remember the exact details of the case now, but the dog needed a carpal arthrodesis. When I was explaining this to the owner, I couldn't remember this term and so I said that we had to do an operation to make the bones in this joint all stick together so that it would be stable. It turned out that the owner was an orthopaedic surgeon.

Sarah Baird (right) with (from left) Heidi Eborall, receptionist, Andy Neilson, student veterinary nurse, and Cheryl Gillingham receptionist (seated))

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