"We get along really well as a team and come together to do our best work...I feel fortunate to be in this practice because we handle a wide variety of cases"

- Amy Palmer, RVN at The Vet Centre

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Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to working at The Vet Centre?

I'm 34 years old now, and I didn't venture into the world of veterinary care until my late 20s.  I previously worked in childcare, so it was quite a career change for me. I originally grew up in London but later moved to Buckingham. That's when I decided I needed a change in my career.

I knew I wanted to work with animals, but I wasn't sure in what capacity. I started by volunteering at a wildlife hospital, just one day a week, and that was a valuable experience. After that, I began sending out letters and my CV to every vet practice in the area. My initial goal was to become a Veterinary Care Assistant (VCA), but I had no luck with that. Then, one day, out of the blue, I received a call offering me a receptionist position, so I thought, why not? I'll help me get my foot in the door.

I started working at another vet practice on reception before getting a role with The Vet Centre. Initially, I worked as a part-time receptionist for about six months here. During that time, I got to know some of the nurses and vets. I shared my dream to become a nurse, and how I wished I'd pursued it earlier in life. One of the nurses was particularly supportive and encouraged me to go for it, she reassured me that it was never too late. So, that's when I made the decision to transition from receptionist to pursuing the VCA course. I didn't have a strong background in math or science, so I was unsure how I'd manage, but I gave it a shot.

I passed the VCA course and then moved on to my veterinary nursing studies as a student. I finally qualified in September. Looking back, it's incredible to see how far I've come, and it's been a great journey, all happening here at The Vet Centre!

That's an impressive journey. What initially motivated you to make such a significant career change from childcare to the veterinary field?

Well, I was finding my job in childcare less rewarding - I dreaded going to work every day. I realised I wanted to find a career I truly enjoyed.

I began thinking about what I genuinely enjoyed doing. At the time, I had recently adopted a puppy, a chocolate Labrador. I had never had a puppy before, so I became quite the "geek" and started reading books about how to take care of them. I found the subject matter very interesting, and it sparked my curiosity. That's when I began to consider working with animals.

It wasn't until I started working as a receptionist and saw what the nurses did in the veterinary practice that I realised just how amazing their job is. That's when I decided that I wanted to become a veterinary nurse.

You've had the opportunity to experience various roles at The Vet Centre, from reception to nursing. Can you share your experience and how the team around you has supported your journey?

I think my journey from receptionist to nurse has given me a unique perspective. I've become more aware of the experience of being a receptionist and a VCA. Having been in their shoes, I understand how stressful it can be at times, and how much having a supportive team matters.Especially when working with new students, it can be quite daunting. I like to think that I can offer a helping hand and support them in their training.

Every member of the team here was very supportive and encouraging through my training as a nurse and I hope that one day I will be able to pass on the knowledge they taught me to other students in the future.

What's it like working at The Vet Centre?

When I first interviewed here, I was struck by the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a really friendly environment. Of course we face challenges in our work, but we get along really well as a team and come together to do our best.

In terms of cases, I feel fortunate to be in this practice because we handle a wide variety of cases. We perform laparoscopic surgeries in addition to more traditional procedures. We also do orthopaedic work, including fracture repairs and TPLOs, and fix luxating patellas, which is quite diverse compared to some other practices. We have endoscopy capabilities, and we recently acquired a top-notch ultrasound machine, allowing us to perform heart scans, which are always fascinating to watch.

Of course, we also deal with everyday cases like neutering, lump removals, and foreign body removals. So, our caseload is quite varied, and I'm glad we get to work on some interesting cases here. It's not just the routine stuff, and I appreciate that variety.

Our leadership team are really approachable, which is another fantastic aspect of the practice. I never feel like I can't ask a question or bring something up. This, too, contributes to the great team atmosphere.

How would you describe the relationship between the clients and the practice?

The relationship with our clients is quite special. We have several long-term clients who have been with us for years. We know them on a first-name basis. Of course, we also have new clients coming in. It's wonderful to see those loyal clients who stick with us. This long-term relationship helps us understand their needs and preferences. We have very few clients leaving, and usually, it's because they're moving house or something of that sort. So we're fortunate to have a lot of long-standing clients.

 What would you say makes working at the practice unique?

I believe the key to our success is our strong teamwork. When there's an emergency, we excel at pulling together, with each team member understanding their role. It all boils down to teamwork, and it's the primary reason why I love working here. We not only work well together, but we also have a great time. The environment is relaxed, and we even have our dogs running around the office and garden sometimes.

 What's happening in the local area?

We're not too far from Milton Keynes, just a 20-minute drive away. We try to plan outings every six months or so. In the past, we've gone mini-golfing and plan to tackle an escape room next. There's even talk of go-karting, but we aim for activities suitable for all age ranges unless we get too competitive! Additionally, the local town, Buckingham, is just a 5-minute drive away. It has several restaurants where we often go for lunch. There's always something fun to do!

 If you were speaking to someone considering joining the practice, what would you want them to know about being part of the team?

I'd tell them that we are a very friendly and welcoming team. We work together cohesively and are always willing to accommodate your needs as much as possible. If there are specific approaches or procedures you prefer, we're happy to adapt.

I remember a locum vet once told me that he enjoyed coming here because he could manage his cases independently, but there was also support available when needed. It's a supportive and friendly environment to work in, and I think that's what makes us stand out.

What do you get up to outside of work?

I have a chocolate Labrador named Bear, and most of my free time is spent pampering and taking him on walks. He has elbow dysplasia, so I'm currently taking him for hydrotherapy as well.
I also enjoy spending time with my friends, and I like to travel when I have some time off from work. A long weekend away is always a nice break.

I'm into crochet too, which helps me relax. Currently, I'm working on making a large basket for my dog's toys!