Vets Now is renowned throughout the veterinary profession for its commitment to staff development — and at the heart of this are its Edge induction programmes. These provide vets and vet nurses keen to build their skills, and carve out a successful career, in emergency and critical care with a supportive route into the discipline.
There are three Edge programmes — Cutting Edge, Refresh Your Edge and Nursing Edge. For each intake, a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure their success. Much of this is carried out by Edge coordinator Malishia Connolly, who is also often the first point of contact for vets and vet nurses who embark on the programmes. In the first of a series of "meet the team behind Vets Now" blogs, Malishia sheds some light on her role.
How did you end up at Vets Now? In January 2015 I was studying for an HND in social sciences, which included subjects such as criminology and sociology, when I got a part-time job in the Vets Now contact centre as a call handler. Seven or eight months later the Edge recruitment role came up. It looked really interesting and although I’d just graduated I enjoyed working here so I decided to apply.
What is your role? My title is Edge coordinator although I suppose there’s more to it than just coordinating things. I work closely with the head of Edge programmes, Aoife O’Sullivan, who is a very experienced emergency vet. While Aoife leads the clinical side, I do all of the non-clinical, behind-the-scenes work for Cutting Edge, Refresh Your Edge and Nursing Edge.
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What does your role involve? Prior to the vets and vet nurses actually starting their Edge journey, I dedicate much of my time to booking lecturers, sorting out their accommodation and travel, scheduling the order of the lecture programme and practical sessions, and putting together rotas for each of the vets and vet nurses for their mentored shifts in the clinics. This takes a lot of time and organisation. For example, I’ve been working on the programme starting this month since January.
What about once the programmes have started? Once the vets and vet nurses are here I provide them with any support they might need. That could be as simple as going to the bank with them to open an account or ensuring they have accommodation during their mentored shifts. For me, it’s important they know there’s always someone here for them. Hopefully, they see me as a friend by the end of their induction.
Read more: Aoife tells how Cutting Edge programme provides perfect launchpad for career
Is it just the Edge programmes you’re involved in? No. Vets Now also offers placements of one or two weeks to students through our EMS programme. I help organise these and this involves organising rotas and attending career events at universities.
What do you enjoy most about your job? Believe it or not, I love doing rotas and seeing all the hard work come together when the Edge programmes start. But I suppose the biggest buzz I get is seeing the vets and vet nurses progress. It's inspiring watching people visibly grow in self-assurance and confidence as the weeks go on. In most cases, there is a real transformation.
What’s the biggest challenge? Pulling everything together at a time that suits everyone can be massively challenging. All the lecturers on our programmes are very highly regarded in their fields and incredibly busy as a result. They all have their own schedules and trying to fit them into ours can be difficult.
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What makes Vets Now a unique employer? It’s different from any other place I’ve worked. Everyone, no matter what level they’re at, is approachable. It really feels like a family and everyone supports one another and pulls together when it’s required. Our slogan is ‘together we save pets’ lives’ and, for me, that’s how it feels whether you’re working in the contact centre or helping recruit vets and vet nurses. I’m a vegetarian and an animal lover and I love working for a company that’s dedicated to saving pets’ lives.
What's been your proudest moment at Vets Now? At Vets Now, staff are encouraged to nominate their colleagues for displaying one of the four values that define the company. Those are innovation, caring, releasing potential and taking responsibility. I've been nominated a few times by Cutting Edge vets for things I’ve done for them and that’s really made me happy. It justifies all the hard work.
What do you like to do outside of work? I was once part of the national squad for Scottish Gymnastics and was preparing for the Commonwealth Games when I took ill and had to retire. However, after a break, I’m now back coaching. I love it and it’s my biggest passion outside of work. My dad and my brother are also gymnastics coaches and my mum was a professional dancer. It’s in our blood I think.
Do you want to be in Malishia's team? The next intake for Cutting Edge is in January, and places are filling up fast. We are also recruiting for more experienced vets for Refresh Your Edge.
If you, or any vets you know, are interested in applying, please call the Vets Now recruitment team for more information on 01383 841181 or click here.