Jo Masters runs the logistics within the front office of Synergy Farm Health in Evershot, Dorset, as well as being responsible for HR within the business. She qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1991 and has worked as a veterinary nursing lecturer and practice manager. She is also the co-author of a number of veterinary nursing textbooks, a senior veterinary nursing examiner and an honorary member of the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA).
- British Veterinary Association
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How did your career begin?
My first encounter with veterinary practice was as a 14-year-old schoolgirl when I worked every evening in a local practice cleaning the kennels and kits, etc. Prior to this I had wanted to be a vet, but I quickly realised it was the veterinary nurses (VNs) who ran the show and decided I wanted to be one of them.
How did you get to where you are today?
After training in a small animal hospital in Brighton, I went on to work in both mixed and equine practice before securing a position in a mixed practice in Australia. On my return to the UK I locumed in all types of practice from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to sole charge.
From here, I began my teaching career, working in three colleges training and supporting student VNs and, with their hard work, achieving some great results. I am still very proud when I see the VNs I taught flourishing in their careers – testament to their hard work and dedication.
I was lured back into practice in 2005 to a position in a mixed practice in Somerset. With a very supportive team we were able to modernise and develop this business and eventually I moved with the farm animal section of the practice to Synergy Farm Health where I hold the position of clinical manager.
Describe some of the activities your job involves you in.
My main role is to oversee the logistics of the 28 farm vets employed by Synergy and – with the front office team – ensure that everyone is where they should be at the right time (however, these are vets, so ‘herding cats’ is perhaps a better description). I am also responsible for the staff in the pharmacy and the laboratory as well as vets and personnel generally. In a practice this size there is always a challenge, but I am lucky to work in such a motivated and dynamic environment with a really lovely group of people. At the present time we are expanding the practice premises and looking forward to welcoming RVC students as part of their farm animal rotation in the new year – exciting times ahead.
What do you like about your job ?
I can answer this about both my present position and being a VN in general – diversity. No two days are the same.
Is there anything you don't like?
Bureaucracy. It's in every walk of life, but in the veterinary/farming industries there seems to be so much needless paperwork that it gets in the way of progress rather than aiding it.
Does living on a farm help you in your job?
Yes, definitely. An understanding of the day-to-day challenges faced by the farming community is a huge help in working with farmers who respect someone who empathises with their situation.
How did you get involved with writing textbooks?
My first project was with fellow BVNA council member Carole Martin. We were asked to edit the first Pre-Veterinary Nursing Textbook on behalf of the BVNA. At the time there were very few textbooks specifically for VNs and we decided that we were in a position to fill that gap. Veterinary contributors were incredibly willing to support VNs and Carole and I were able have a total of seven core textbooks published. It has been great to see other VNs continue with this work so that now VNs have a comprehensive library of texts specifically for them.
What was your proudest moment?
Certainly one of the best was seeing VNs become registered for the first time and knowing that I was one of a group of dedicated VNs who worked so hard to make this happen.
… and your most embarrassing?
There are too many to mention, but one that springs to mind took place years ago when I was putting a client's dog into the back of their car while telling the dog what a pain its owner was. Unbeknownst to me, her husband was sitting in the front seat.
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