How did you start with My Vets?
My veterinary career began back in 2008 when I returned from a round-the-world trip unsure what I wanted to do. In fact, I was more thinking about just doing something for a few months to get money to go travelling again. But I liked the idea of working with animals and I got a job as a receptionist at the Oswaldtwistle branch. I was naïve about the industry, but it had me hooked and within months I knew this was something I really wanted to do.
When My Vets opened the main flagship hospital in Clayton le Dale six months after I started, I moved there as a receptionist. I became a senior receptionist and, after a brief sabbatical, I was offered a Practice Manager position within the group which was undergoing a major expansion. My role and team were growing and a few months after we joined IVC Evidensia in 2017 I was offered an enhanced joint role that included looking after other practices. Then I largely stepped away from the practice to become Business Support Manager within IVC Evidensia, before this new Practice Director post brought me back.
And how did things progress from there?
I think there has been massive change in the industry these past few years. There is a need to be more open and flexible to different ways of working, and that’s something we are definitely taking on board. We’re committed to using where we are now as an opportunity to build the sort of future we want to have. We can schedule and work around the team we have now and the team we see being here in the future.
How have you seen things change over the years?
There has been a lot of change and there have been ongoing staffing resource issues, particularly at our branches. There can be a tendency for those staff to feel a bit more isolated, compared to the main hospital which remains bustling. The hospital has a dedicated, skilled and passionate nursing team at its heart. I’m working hard with everyone here to ensure we have that support and great team ethos in every practice. We really are listening, and we don’t want a top-down decision-making process. Regularly engaging with our teams to get their feedback and having a collaborative approach will be essential
What do you see as some of the challenges of your new role?
I see it as pulling together all the different departments, ensuring we maintain our ethos. While there are day-to-day activities, overall I make sure the heads of department can function well and that everyone is looked after. It’s a role that’s parallel to the two new Clinical Directors and the three of us are responsible for setting the overall tone. In the past there perhaps wasn’t as much time to focus on all the vital non-clinical aspects and by having that now we hope that will help the whole team work more closely in harmony.
How would you define the Practice Director role?
Definitely. Maxine is based at the main hospital, and we work very closely together, just as we have done in our other roles. We’ve had a similar career path in the industry and have known each other for years.
And you’re also working in tandem with your Practice Manager Maxine Illingworth?
It absolutely is. We know how important change is for future success. What has worked really well in the past and got us to this size and scale, isn’t what the industry now demands. We have to be able to adapt and find new ways of doing things. So, this is very much a new opportunity to do things differently to ensure we continue that success.
With the new team in place, do you see this as an important time for My Vets?
We can consider all aspects of flexible working and, by wiping the slate clean, we can build the future on what people want now. Our success will come from the people in our team, recognising strengths and weaknesses and developing people with all different levels of experience. We can support graduates, but we can also support vets and nurses who want to take the next step in their career from a further education perspective. We want our hospital and practices to be able to be able to upskill people without there being a ceiling. And rather than just being a first opinion practice, we have the scope to become a referral practice for not just our IVC network but also for other practices, too. We are developing certificate holders and have the facilities to help people grow, which lets us offer a better, more varied, service to our clients.
Finally, what do you feel My Vets offers vets and nurses who might consider joining?