In the first of a new series of features for Vet Record Careers, John Innes describes a recent working week as referrals director for CVS and a RCVS specialist in small animal orthopaedics.
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Monday is my protected clinical day, so I head in for morning rounds at ChesterGates Veterinary Specialists, in Chester, the clinic where I am based. Given that our clinic also operates an emergency out-of-hours service, Mondays often bring new referrals for animals that have suffered skeletal trauma; not today though.
I have three elective referrals to see: a cavalier King Charles spaniel with severe hip dysplasia, a pointer with humeral intracondylar fissure, and a labrador from Hull with bilateral elbow dysplasia. All are with lovely, committed owners and I enjoy discussing how best to manage their dog's problems to suit their aspirations and expectations.
The pointer is booked for CT, the cavalier is measured up for a micro hip replacement, and the labrador has bilateral arthroscopy. I work with our anaesthesia service and nurses to get these cases through and, in between, it's e-mails, e-mails, e-mails. Reports are written and e-mailed to referring vets and the well patients are discharged. No time for lunch but I don't mind – at my age, lunch just adds to the waistline. In any case, I'm keen to work through to ensure I get away by 6 pm to make my regular five-a-side game with friends at 6.30. This is a vets, medics, dentists and lawyers group that has been going for over 25 years – I've only played in the group for 15 years so I'm a newcomer! We play until 8.30 pm and then retire to a local pub to swap work stories. The criminal law barristers always have the best ones, but I wouldn't want to swap jobs.
I'll often see clinical cases on a Tuesday, but today I'm off to the CVS Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting in Hampshire. I leave home at 7 am and it's a five-and-a-half hour drive; I listen to Radio 4 to try to educate myself on the way. Day 1 of the meeting is at Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists, our new referral hospital in Alton. It's a fantastic facility and most of the committee have a tour as they have not been before.
We then settle down to discuss clinical decisions on new drugs, laboratory tests, instruments and implants. The committee draws from vets across the company with different interests and experiences, and we guide the company in purchasing policy. These are important, clinically-led decisions but the financial implications can be important too.
We end the formal meeting and head to the hotel where we carry on specific and general discussions over dinner and in the bar. It's great to connect with colleagues from across the country. I retire at 11 pm to watch some Euro 2016 highlights on TV.
The CAC meeting continues at Elanco Animal Health's headquarters in Basingstoke. There are one or two tired faces around the table and I gloat regarding my decision to leave the bar to watch the footy the previous night! After a presentation from Elanco, we continue with our business until lunchtime when we close the meeting and go our separate ways.
I return to Lumbry Park to work with my colleagues. The facility only opened in November 2015 and there is still much to do. It is a large, complex building providing excellent clinical facilities – I'd love to work there but my life is rooted in the north west now. We still have much to do to build the clinical team and expand the services we offer. I spend a significant amount of my time working on recruitment and retention of specialist vets; this part of the veterinary sector has seen unprecedented change in the past three years and we are all adapting to it – every week brings a new development it seems. Next, I drive to Guildford where I am staying for the night. I meet up with an old friend and colleague, Professor Stuart Carmichael. We chew the fat over a bar meal and another Euro 2016 football match – you might be getting the impression I love football? You'd be right.
I'm up reasonably early and sort a few e-mails before heading to Newmarket. I have a meeting with a management coach who has been helping CVS as we develop our referrals services. It's a fruitful and enjoyable meeting, with views from an external perspective. I head home in the afternoon and do battle with the A14 and the M6. Home for 6.30 pm and it's the weekend. I try to protect my weekends now – not something I always did when I was in academia – but having three small children brings that into focus. They are all girls, and football is definitely off the agenda: their choice, not mine.