24 Jun 2022

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Leaving thoughts from Sophie…..

Sophie leaves us today after 3 years under our roof. We will miss her. These are her musings on her time with us…...

I’ve been at Vets 1 since I was a fresh-out-of-uni baby vet.


I had previously seen practice with Vets 1 as an EMS student and loved every minute of it (not that you could tell at the time, I was really shy and quiet…). I initially sent Simon and email asking if there were any positions available for a new graduate and he said he’d let me know. A few months later and by far the worst foot-in-mouth interview I have ever done (little tip: don’t tell potential employers that you’re dead inside) and I found myself as Vets 1’s latest new grad. 


You hear a lot of horror stories when you’re at vet school about your first job and how you’re left to be sole charge after 1 week and have your first on-call the weekend after you start. However, at Vets 1 that is not the case. I was paired up with my mentor, Claire, and from day one I was eased into vet life. I started slowly with doing annual booster consults to get used to having the decision-making responsibility, getting used to the clinical exams and how to use the computer system. Whilst I was doing this, my mentor’s diary was blocked out so I could ask the 20 million questions that popped into my head during the consult, this then progressed  to slowly adding in other ailments like itchy skin, diarrhoea, vomiting etc. as I felt more comfortable, all the time having Claire (and the rest of the team) to help. Fast-forward 3 years and I no longer have the baby vet responsibility panic and am very happy with an annual booster, although the computer system is still sometimes a challenge…


OOH is always something that is a worry to new graduates and again I was eased onto the OOH rota. When I first started at Vets 1 we did on-call one night a week, this has now progressed to proper night shifts in a block of 7. We always have a back-up senior vet to help if we get stuck or need some help with an emergency surgery and no matter what time of night (or early morning), someone will always answer the phone to you. I remember Katharine coming in to teach me how to do my first c-section at some ungodly hour in the morning and again for the next however many that I had until I was comfortable doing them without a ‘grown-up’ present. Not once has she, or any other member of the team, refused to come in to help even when they know you’re fine on your own because they know that sometimes you just need that moral support to dive into the deep end to do these things yourself.


The pandemic has hit many professions and households hard but it is something that the vet profession has really struggled with. We are stretched thin, almost to the point of breaking, angry vet-bashing posts on social media can be brutal and it’s sometimes hard to see past all of that. We are no different here, not everything has been sunshine and rainbows over the past couple of years but what’s different about Vets 1 is that we are constantly changing to try and make things the best they can possibly be for the team (within reason). We’ve had rota changes. Not all them worked, so we changed it again. There was a point where we were finishing later and later due to the increased demand, so we stopped taking on new clients for a while and re-jigged the consult diary to include more time for paperwork and to have a breather. We are constantly evolving and yes, sometimes the ideas don’t work out, but we always try and find a solution to the problem. 


All practices have their issues, and any practice can have fancy toys to entice you and, in this current job climate, offer you the world and a penny, but what I always say to new grads or vet students that come and see practice with us, is that you can’t find good support everywhere and having a practice that supports you properly in your first job is key. The level of support at Vets 1 is fantastic and it’s something that I will always rave about. Not only do you have back-up on your OOH (even when you’re not a new grad anymore), but everyone is happy to help and answer questions or bounce some ideas about a tricky case off someoneEveryone here is a team-player. You have 10 phone calls that need doing? Someone will help you get through them so you’re not here late. You’re running late for a consult because Fluffy in the consult before was not in fact ‘just a booster’ but is half collapsed and needs emergency stabilisation? Someone will pick up the next couple of consults for you so you have some breathing room. We are a big, (sometimes slightly dysfunctional) family and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. Plus we love a pub trip so there’s always someone keen to socialise after work. 


If you’re even considering working here then please reach out, we’re always happy to have a chat. I am very sad to be leaving Vets 1 and I honestly couldn’t have found a better first job than I have here. Three years has flown by and I’ve learnt so much and made some great friends and I’m going to miss everyone very much.