From rotating internship to surgical residency, Callum shares how he came to join the team at Vale Referrals

Find out how surgical resident Callum Sharps' exposure to diverse specialities and mentorship shaped his decision to pursue a residency, and how it feels to transition from intern to resident, and beyond. He reveals the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to residency, and the career opportunities that come with being part of IVC Evidensia's network.

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Can you tell me about yourself and how you came to work at Vale Referrals?

I graduated in 2018 from the University of Cambridge, having previously studied biochemistry at the University of Leeds. I did a rotating internship at Vets Now in Manchester, before spending some time working at the PDSA. I then returned to IVC Evidensia in 2021 as a surgical intern at Hamilton Specialist Referrals, before commencing the joint residency program with Vale Referrals in 2022.

Could you tell us more about your decision to join the team at Vale Referrals, and how the exposure to various specialities there influenced your decision to apply for their residency program?

The multidisciplinary approach means that as a resident you get a broad view of other areas, not just your own interests. Working across two hospitals also means you get a more rounded experience of how cases can be approached differently and to develop varied skills, which has been good for my own development and learning. This kind of experience is crucial, as it informs how you work yourself in the future.

How did the rotating internship you completed at Vetsnow influence your decision to undertake the three-year residency programme within the surgery referrals team with Vale Referrals?

During university and on my EMS placements I found I really enjoyed emergency cases, so I decided to join Vets Now Manchester as a rotating intern. However, throughout my time there, I realised that the aspects of emergency work I enjoyed most were surgical rather than medical. Rotating through orthopaedics also led me to realise that I enjoyed all aspects of surgery. The rotating internship helped me discover my passion and let me try out working in different areas to see what felt the best path for my career.

What made you decide to pursue a residency in surgery?

I really enjoy surgery – you’re essentially helping to ‘fix’ an animal, which is very rewarding. I want to be the best surgeon I can be and have the skills to perform complex procedures. A residency programme is a structured and three-year training programme, where you are constantly being exposed to new cases, new ideas, new techniques and new surgical skills, whilst being supervised and trained by specialist surgeons. The direct teaching and mentorship I’ve had access to during my residency has significantly improved my surgical skills and knowledge, and I think that would have been harder to achieve without the direct and supportive teaching and supervision. 

The transition from intern to resident can be a big step. Can you share some changes you encountered in your role when you began your residency?

When you become a resident, there is a shift towards making your own decisions about cases and having case-control. The jump from internship to residency is significant. You go from being a junior member of the team with no significant decision-making responsibilities, to being in charge of your case and making the decisions – of course still with specialist input and support - to achieve the right outcome for the patient. 

How have Vale Referrals supported you throughout your residency so far?

All of the specialists here are very good at teaching and supporting my learning and development daily. All of the specialists at the hospitals are vested in your career and progress and want you to do well and succeed. We also have regular central journal club meetings and collaborate with other hospitals in a surgical reading group. Having that network of peers is great, and the teaching and support from my colleagues at HSR and Vale have had a major impact on my development as a vet.

What are your plans for the future?

When I complete my residency, I will be looking to pursue a general surgical role in a multidisciplinary hospital. I’ve found I truly enjoy all aspects of surgery, so I don’t think I could choose one discipline over another. 

Do you have any advice for those considering a residency?

It is hard work and long hours, with lots of self-study. You need to be disciplined, enthusiastic and willing to put in the hours. It isn't for everyone, but it is very rewarding and I’m glad I made the choice to do my residency.

How do you unwind outside of work?

I enjoy the great outdoors and try to go hiking in the mountains as often as possible.