Lynne Faulconbridge is proof positive that it’s never too late to begin a career in emergency and critical care.
A PhD holder who graduated two decades ago, Lynne was 43 when she made the decision to leave her job in small animal practice and join Vets Now. She began working as a senior vet in our busy Birmingham clinic after completing our 12-week distance learning course Refresh Your Edge.
But as Lynne attests herself, she would also have been an ideal candidate for AdvantEdge, Vets Now’s newest Edge induction programme. It is a fast-track programme, which pays a highly competitive salary from day one, designed for vets, like Lynne, who already have a solid foundation of small animal or mixed practice experience.
In this Q&A, Lynne, who lives in Walsall with her husband, their two tortoises, two leopard geckos, an aviary of birds and tank of White Cloud Mountain minnows, gives us the lowdown on her career and why she enjoys working for Vets Now.
Tell me about your background? I’ve always been interested in creatures of the natural world. My parents often found me racing garden snails, looking for newts in the local pond and collecting insects. In my teenage years, I bred Syrian hamsters which meant my parents had to put up with nocturnal background “music” of many little wheels going round. Not to mention the praying mantis, stick insect eggs and tarantula being kept cosy in the airing cupboard at night… The fascination has never really waned and being amongst animals and the people who love them is still a great privilege.
How did you end up at Vets Now? I graduated from Glasgow Veterinary School 20 years ago and have been in small animal practice ever since. I took a three-year break after the first 18 months to complete a PhD in feline virology before returning to clinical work. At the age of 43 I was ready for a change and, having always enjoyed the excitement of emergency cases, decided to enter the field of ECC. Vets Now is the largest provider of veterinary ECC in the UK and was the natural choice to further my career.
What do you enjoy most about being a vet? Being able to help patients and their owners is the best aspect of being a vet. People often arrive in an understandably distressed state and being able to help them and their animal makes the role worthwhile. Inevitably some cases will have a sad outcome and we try to offer as much emotional support as we can to owners in need. There is also a real buzz within our team in Birmingham, particularly when we work together on challenging cases. Everyone is highly energetic, motivated and loves learning. We never know what might walk through the door next and enjoy being kept on our toes.
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What do you enjoy most about your job as a senior vet? I love working with Laura, our principal nurse manager, and watching the team work together, supporting them as much as we can. Vets Now has a great system of mentoring and developing staff which keeps the team bonded and focused. I also enjoy going out to partner practices, visiting them and catching up with their news. The relationship between ourselves and the partner practices is vital in allowing us to provide as personal a service as possible to the practices we serve and to their patients.
You did Refresh Your Edge? Would you recommend it? Yes. I would recommend to GP veterinary surgeons who want to convert to ECC work. There are many differences between daytime practice and ECC and RYE helps prepare candidates for these. I made very good friends with the other veterinary surgeons on the course and we are still in almost daily contact via our WhatsApp group. The course also helps integrate vets into the company and instil its aims and values.
Vets Now is launching a new Edge programme called AdvantEdge. Do you think this will be a good addition to the Edge portfolio? AdvantEdge is ideal for experienced vets who have an interest in ECC and want to make the transition without the 12 week commitment of RYE. There is a real benefit for vets who are already competent in surgical techniques being able to get started in the clinic as soon as possible .I also think retaining a residential weekend is an excellent idea because this helps build camaraderie and allows for the formation of friendships. This can be very valuable when starting out in the clinics.
What, in your opinion, makes Vets Now a special place to work ? Vets Now is a vibrant, forward-thinking company offering excellent training and support for learning. There is a wide spectrum of job roles for veterinary staff from purely clinical to management and teaching/mentoring roles. Staff development is encouraged regardless of age or experience level and emphasis is placed on gender equality — a large proportion of the leaders in the company are female.
Does working out of hours suit you and, if so, why? Yes, I enjoy the time off in the days between shifts and driving homewards on a drizzly grey Monday morning is a real perk!
Read more: Where are they now? Cutting Edge graduate Stephanie Timmons looks back on her career journey so far
What advice would you give to people considering a career in the veterinary profession? I think it’s important to know what you are going into. The hours can be long and sometimes can be draining especially emotionally. On the upside, it is rewarding when a life is saved or when an animal responds to treatment and few things can match that.
What are your ambitions? I am studying for a CertAVP in ECC next year and aim to continue offering the best service possible at Birmingham.
What do you do to relax? To relax I enjoy walking along our local canal, crochet, reading, pastel drawing, seeing friends and occasional cycling.
Tell me an interesting fact no one else knows about you? I am left handed, was thirteen years old on Friday 13th, and once spent a week in the jungle in the Philippines!
If you would like to follow in Lynne’s footsteps, you can find out more about the distance learning Refresh Your Edge programme here and our fast-track AdvantEdge induction programme here.