Exploring veterinary career paths: insights from Briony and Gemma of De Montfort Vets

Briony and Gemma, both integral members of the De Montfort Vets team, share their unique career paths and experiences. Briony's journey spans over two decades, from starting as a nursing trainee to becoming head nurse, while vet Gemma joined through the IVC Evidensia Graduate Academy program and found her place in the practice. They discuss their motivations for working in the veterinary industry, the supportive culture at De Montfort Vets, and the diverse range of learning opportunities available there.

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Could you both share a bit about your career paths and how you came to work with De Montfort Vets?

Gemma: I've been with this practice for about 21 years, I started back in 2002. Before I completed my nursing training I did some work experience here and when a job opened up, I jumped on it! I’ve experienced great progression here, moving into clinical coaching and eventually, I became deputy head nurse alongside Karen, who was the head nurse at the time. When she moved on about seven or eight years ago, I stepped into the role of head nurse. It's been quite the journey.

Briony: I'm relatively new here, I’ve been with the practice for about 18 months now. I joined through the IVC Evidensia Graduate Academy programme. I also came here on work experience on my EMS placement, and I felt connected to the team. When the opportunity came up I applied to join the team through the graduate scheme and here I am.

How has your experience been as a member of the IVC Evidensia Graduate Academy?

Briony: It's been really good, there’s so much support for CPD and practical learning, which is invaluable as a new grad vet. I've got several events this week where I’ll be attending Graduate Academy learning sessions, and you get to learn a lot. It's good fun too! You meet other new grad vets from around the country and get the chance to connect.

What is your motivation for working in the veterinary industry?

Gemma: My passion for working with animals is probably the biggest thing. I like being hands-on in my work and I find I learn best through practical experience. I also enjoy having an active job where I’m moving around, and every day is different. You never know what's going to come through the door or what the day's going to bring. I like the spontaneity of it. I feel proud to be a nurse as part of the team here.

Briony: I really agree about having a passion for animals. The team here are fantastic too, so for me, a big part of working here is also the team. I love the general practice work too because you get to make connections with owners and to know their animals. There’s that meaningful bond as well as the clinical side of things, although of course I also enjoy working on difficult cases or doing interesting surgeries.

For someone looking to join the team, what might they like to know about the practice or the team?

Gemma: We're centrally based in Evesham, a medium-sized market town nicely situated between Worcester and Cheltenham with direct train access to London. So, location-wise, it's quite convenient with lots of lovely surrounding villages.

Briony: We used to be a mixed practice but now focus solely on small animals. We see a lot of dogs, cats, and exotics, and we're proud to be a gold cat-friendly practice and a silver rabbit-friendly practice. We serve a diverse range of clients which brings a variety of cases and personalities. This allows for creative problem-solving tailored to each client's needs which we find really rewarding. The practice offers a wide range of learning opportunities and we’re all committed to providing high-quality care and learning experiences for our team.

What about specific skills or areas of interest within the team?

Briony: We have a specialist ultrasonographer who comes in weekly, offering training opportunities for our vets and new graduates. We also have expertise in areas like small animal medicine, critical care, and emergency medicine. Some of our nurses are particularly interested in small furries and exotics, which brings valuable knowledge and experience to the team.

Gemma: We are a first-opinion practice, but we do have hospital status which we’re really proud of. This means we have overnight care for inpatients, a member of the team is on-site all through the night, while our emergencies go to Vets Now.

How would you describe the culture and feel at the practice?

Briony: We're a really great bunch—super friendly, supportive, and non-judgmental. We’re always there for each other, whether that’s supporting someone dealing with a tough case, or just being a friend. We all gel together well, and there’s a positive and supportive work environment.

What are you proudest of in your career so far?

Gemma: I'd say becoming head nurse. Initially, I had no intention of taking on that role, but when the opportunity arose, I realised I wanted it and could excel at it. It was a proud moment to realise my own potential and gain the respect of my team. Also, qualifying as a nurse was a significant accomplishment for me.

Briony: For me it’s succeeding and becoming a vet. My journey into this career wasn't typical. I faced challenges with grades, mental health, and personal loss. Despite all that, I'm still here, doing well. Overcoming those obstacles has made me realise my strength and resilience. Initially, I aimed to be a large animal vet but discovered it wasn't the right fit for me. Eventually, I found my place here, which turned out to be the best outcome!

What do you like to do outside of work?

Gemma: I enjoy yoga for mental and physical health. I'm a big cat person, finding a lot of joy in their company. I also value spending time with family and friends, socialising and gardening.

Briony: I do a lot of knitting and sewing, which helps me unwind. I'm also into motorsports, which is exhilarating and a great way to spend my time