Designed by Amanda Boag, vice-president of the RCVS, Vets Now’s Cutting Edge programme has helped prepare scores of vets for life on the front line of emergency and critical care since its launch in 2010.
Over the next year, we plan to catch up with several Cutting Edge graduates to find out where their career has taken them since completing the programme.
Our first sit down is with Annette Vindenes, who is based at Vets Now’s clinic in Gateshead but this week flew to Australia to begin a six-month placement in various ECC hospitals and practices in Sydney.
Keep an eye out for Annette’s photo diary about her experiences down under.
Read more: Think you have what it takes to work in ECC? Take our test
Tell me about your background?
I grew up in Oslo, Norway, and always wanted to become a vet. In Norway, there’s only one veterinary school, so my goal was always to try another country. I initially went to Aberystwyth in Wales where I did a bachelor’s degree in animal science. I was then accepted into the University of Glasgow to study veterinary medicine for five years.
When did working as a vet become an ambition?
Working as a vet has been my ambition for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, animals were always my priority.
How did you hear about Vets Now?
After completing my studies, I got a job in a first opinion practice near Newcastle. But I quickly became bored with life in general practice. I then met Jacqui Seymour at the Vets Now stand at BSAVA Congress. She spoke so highly about the company and said if I ever wanted experience in ECC I should come to see her at Vets Now in Gateshead.
So how did you end up at Vets Now?
I started doing weekend back shifts in Gateshead. It was so thrilling, and I felt I learned so much on every shift. This was the type of vet I’d always wanted to be. Jacqui was a great role model, so calm in every situation, always happy, and above all else, very knowledgeable. So after doing the weekend work for six months, Jacqui asked if I’d consider signing up for the Cutting Edge programme, which I gladly did.
Read more: Vets Now leads the way for gender equality
Would you recommend Cutting Edge?
Cutting Edge was a great way to learn about emergency medicine, and it taught me how to handle almost anything that’s thrown at you on a busy shift. The programme is great because it also lets you network with respected clinicians within the ECC world. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in ECC, but also to general clinicians who aren't completely comfortable with emergency cases.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the close teamwork, as well as the challenge of never knowing what will walk through the door next.
What are your ambitions?
I'm currently working towards a certificate in ECC, but I also really enjoy teaching others so I’d like to develop that side of my skill set as well. I've run a few CPD events and would be keen to do more. I suppose my ultimate aim is to help newly graduated vets develop the same passion and love for ECC that I have, in the same way Jacqui helped me. Perhaps one day I might also become a senior vet at one of Vets Now’s clinics.
Read more: Cutting Edge recruit Anna tells her story from farm girl to ECC vet
What do you love about working in ECC?
I love that you can make a big difference to an animal's life in a short time. There’s nothing better than seeing a patient go home with their owners who, only the previous night, thought they’d never see their pet again.
What makes Vets Now a special place to work?
The company values, and the fact everyone in the business is encouraged to live by those values. I also love that Vets Now wants their vets and vet nurses to be the best they can be and supports them in achieving their potential.
What advice would you give to people considering a career in the veterinary profession?
It’s hard work, and it’s essential you maintain a good work/life balance. But to achieve this you really must find a great employer with good ethics, who supports their employees.
What do you do to relax?
I love hiking up mountains. I also enjoy landscape photography, pottery, willow crafts, cross fit and travelling. Thankfully, my shift pattern at Vets Now allows me to do the things I love on my days off.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
By working smart when I’m on shift and setting aside time when I'm off to do the things I need doing. This ensures I have the time to enjoy the things I love outside of work.
You’re about to go to Australia for a six-month placement. How did this come about?
I’ve always wanted to spend time in Australia, so I looked into the possibility of working in ECC at different referral hospitals. As I didn't want to leave Vets Now, I asked about going on a sabbatical. It was terrific to have an employer who was as excited about my placement as me. It will be fantastic for me as I will be gaining so much experience and seeing different types of animals. But Vets Now also saw it as an excellent opportunity for me to gain valuable experience and bring my learning back with me.
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.