At Vets Now, we’re always on the lookout for vets whose determination to succeed is almost as great as their devotion to helping pets.
We're aware that, for almost every vet, graduating is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. But we also know it takes hard work, guts and commitment to reach that stage.
One person who exudes all of the qualities we're looking for in our vets is Sara Jackson, who studied for 13 years before finally achieving her ambitions.
Sara, who is a senior vet in our Gateshead clinic, failed to get into vet school on two occasions.
But she refused to be deterred and now has a PhD to her name, as well as a degree in zoology, a degree in veterinary medicine, and an advanced practitioner certificate.
Sara said: “This job is my passion in life. I love caring for animals, and I wasn’t going to let a few setbacks stop me. I was determined to be a vet from the very beginning.”
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Growing up in Northumberland, Sara developed her enthusiasm for pets at a young age, as her father worked as a professional dog trainer. It was this close relationship with animals that persuaded her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
Unfortunately, Sara’s first application to vet school as an 18-year-old school leaver was unsuccessful.
“I didn’t quite make the cut, but I wasn’t going to sit back and do nothing," she said.
Sara decided to do a degree course in zoology instead, and after completing the qualification applied for a place at vet school for the second time.
Again, however, her application was turned down.
“At the beginning, I was really disappointed," recalled Sara, who has two Sussex Spaniels called Quinn and Sulla and a Labrador named Remus. "But thankfully dedication and tenacity won out. If you want something badly enough, you’ll get there."
After her second knock-back, Sara embarked on a PhD in animal behaviour, notably the behaviour of dogs used for scent-tracking and explosive and drug detection, drawing on her childhood experience with dogs. She put her expertise as a dog handler to the test and was able to make some remarkable findings.
“I was able to demonstrate that, statistically, dogs behave in a particular way when they find a scent. People assume that dogs are constantly sniffing, but they're not — not by any stretch of the imagination."
Sara's desire to work as a vet and save the lives of animals remained as strong as ever, even after earning her doctorate, so she applied to study veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge and was accepted.
Some might say the well-worn adage “third-time lucky” could have been penned for her but there was nothing lucky about Sara’s route into vet school.
After graduating in 2010, Sara began working in a first-opinion practice treating routine cases. While she excelled in the role and proved herself to be an exceptional vet, she did not feel stimulated enough.
“I felt that working in first-opinion lacked the kind of challenge that I was looking for. I strive to be the best at what I do, and I felt I couldn’t achieve that while working with routine cases.”
Hungry for more of a challenge, Sara put the feelers out among vet friends and former colleagues, and before long she learned about an opening at Vets Now.
Since joining the business as a senior vet in Gateshead in January 2016, Sara has made the most of the numerous opportunities afforded to her to learn and progress.
“I was attracted by the fact Vets Now provides a gold-standard service to clients and patients and has lots of CPD opportunities,” she said. “I also knew I would enjoy the unpredictability of working in ECC, seeing challenging and critical cases and managing to turn things around.
"Looking back, joining Vets Now was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
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Sara, who has achieved her Cert AVP and is currently working towards her designated Cert AVP, said Vets Now’s values also play an important part in her everyday working life.
“I’m fully invested in the values at Vets Now. I believe that happy staff are going to work harder and help clients more. That is what I am trying to nurture with my own team.
“The fact that Vets Now wants to take care of their staff means so much. The no-blame culture here is amazing, and I have a boss who is approachable, supportive and a great mentor, but who also wants me to grow.
“That’s a phenomenal atmosphere to work in, and I want to offer that to more people — whoever they may be.”
Are you an ambitious and dedicated vet looking for a new challenge? The solution may be our Refresh Your Edge programme. It's a flexible induction programme designed for vets who are keen to start their new career in emergency and critical care. Our next intake is in August 2018, and places are filling up fast.
Already feel you have the experience required for a role in emergency and critical care? Vets Now is launching AdvantEdge, a new fast-track induction programme for vets keen to develop their already impressive array of skills before diving into an exciting career in ECC.
We are also recruiting vets for Cutting Edge and vet nurses for various roles. If you, or any vets or vet nurses you know, are interested in applying, please call the Vets Now recruitment team for more information on 01383 841181 or click here.