I graduated from the RVC in 2004. After a few years in practice, I returned to the RVC for my internship and residency in internal medicine. After completing my residency in 2010, I moved to the University of Bristol and Langford Veterinary Services where I taught students and supervised interns and residents. Following that, I worked as a consultant in a clinical pathology laboratory practice for a change of pace, whilst also ‘keeping my hand in’ with occasional locum-ing.
In 2018. I joined BSAVA as the Head of Education and Academic Director, managing the challenging transition to online education during the pandemic. Towards the end of the pandemic, I felt a strong desire to return to clinical practice, so I joined Vale Referrals in September 2021. Whilst working at Vale, I saw the role I now hold as the National Medicine Lead being advertised. I was attracted to it because I wanted the opportunity to use the non-clinical skills I have developed, whilst still being able to spend time seeing cases. So, I applied for the position, secured it, and now I divide my time between Vale, where I work two days a week, and the national team.
Vale Referrals is a mid-sized referral hospital in Gloucestershire. It recently underwent a significant renovation, so I joined at a great time! Our main referral caseload is medicine and surgery, but we also have a busy ophthalmology and dermatology service, as well as visiting cardiologists and a busy first opinion practice. I appreciate the diverse mix of specialists and advanced practitioners that we have, with each bringing different skill sets to the table, making it a well-rounded and enjoyable place to work with a great team spirit.
On the clinical side, my duties involve seeing all kinds of medicine and oncology cases at Vale Referrals. As the UK National Medicine Lead, I'm part of a team that includes leads in cardiology, surgery, ECC and nursing. Our primary role as a team is to contribute to the development of the strategy for the referral division, as well as supporting the wider network as a whole. It's challenging to outline my day-to-day tasks because they vary greatly, but the variety means that the job stays fresh and interesting!
My current role gives me a fantastic opportunity for both clinical work and involvement in leadership and strategic planning, which I find highly rewarding. Over time, as you gain more experience in clinical work, you encounter fewer entirely new situations, so it's quite refreshing to be in a position where I’m continuing to develop new skills and learn to approach things from a different perspective.
I've always been deeply passionate about the veterinary profession and improving things for everyone involved - team members, pets and owners alike! By being part of a centralised team that serves various hospitals, we have a broader awareness of what's happening globally, meaning that if a clinician, nurse, or hospital manager encounters a problem, I can connect them with another individual who may have faced a similar issue months ago. It's gratifying to help foster this network and work on developing solutions when new challenges arise. Ultimately, it's rewarding to collaborate with a fantastic and diverse group of people, and I feel like we're making a positive impact together.
We’re still a relatively new team within IVC Evidensia, however, we have been steadily increasing our visibility and it has been encouraging to see more and more people engaging with us.
I also really appreciate the balance between clinical and non-clinical work that my role offers. At this point in my career, I wouldn't want to do full-time clinics, nor would I want to exclusively focus on the strategic side and not see any patients. Having both aspects complement each other, and I value that balance in my work.
My interest in medicine dates back to my university days. After graduating, I knew that I wanted to pursue medicine. I'm drawn to the complex problem-solving it entails, and many cases tend to be quite challenging. There's a lot of critical thinking required, often involving the management of multiple diseases, particularly in older patients. The downside of some referral work is that cases come and go, and you don't always have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with clients. However, in medicine, and perhaps in a few other referral disciplines, you do get to know your clients and develop bonds with them over time. That's something I missed when I stepped away from practice and a reason why I wanted to return; I missed seeing clients and feeling like you're genuinely helping them. For pet owners, having the chance to discuss everything, even if it's difficult news, empowers them to make informed decisions for their pets; I find it incredibly rewarding to assist clients in this way.
We're all really excited about the opening of our new small animal hospital, Blaise Referrals, in Longbridge near Birmingham this November. The national leads have been involved right from the start, since the initial design phase of the hospital, including planning the layout, specifying the services, and deciding on essential details like the equipment needed to be able to offer excellent veterinary care. It's been incredibly beneficial that this hospital was designed with the input of experienced referral clinicians and nurses; we understand what works (and doesn’t work!) in a referral hospital, and that knowledge has shaped the hospital's design. Blaise is our first referral hospital built from the ground up, so this is a significant venture for us; it's very exciting!
What we see as most crucial for Blaise, and our absolute top priority, is cultivating a positive workplace environment for the benefit of all future referring practices, pet owners, and patients. The primary focus throughout has been finding individuals who align with our values and a team that is committed to creating a supportive and healthy workplace culture; I’m really looking forward to working with and supporting the team there.
The first piece of advice I would give would be for them to recognise that they have a long career ahead of them and plenty of time to achieve their career goals, so there's no need to rush! I have met many younger vets with a strong belief that they must achieve their career goals rapidly in order to be successful. However, I don't believe that's entirely true, and this mindset can sometimes rob people of the joy in their journey or push them down a path they feel they should take rather than the one they truly desire. Having said this, I appreciate that I probably wouldn’t have heeded this advice when I was younger!
Another important aspect to remember is that over the 40 years of working life, interests and aspirations may change, both inside and outside of work. If someone embarks on a specialist route, for instance, they may find that they want something different later. That's perfectly normal; we all seek new challenges.
I would suggest exploring various fields, gaining diverse experiences, and identifying what you enjoy and what you don't. Connect with professionals in the areas you're interested in, seek their insights, learn about the pros and cons, and take your time. When opportunities arise, go for them. However, if you find yourself in a role that doesn't resonate with you, don't hesitate to make a change. No one will judge you for leaving a position that isn't the right fit. It's far better to exit early than to spend years on a path that doesn't fulfil you.
Lastly, it's crucial to understand that there are numerous ways to advance your career. This could be pursuing a clinical interest or specialism, developing business skills, entering a career in academia or pharmaceuticals, undertaking teaching or clinical research or diversifying into other fields. The mistake we can sometimes make in the profession is elevating one career path above all others when the reality is, we are lucky to have a profession that gives us so many opportunities to explore different and varied job roles.
When I was first considering roles within IVC Evidensia and exploring more about the company, I was blown away by the Care Fund. The fact that each vet has £1000 per year to help support clients with financial difficulties is fantastic. For our clinical teams and our clients, this initiative makes a significant impact, and it is really heartening to know that we can use this fund to help patients who may otherwise not be treated.
I've personally utilised my fund every year and I've witnessed first-hand the profound impact it has on pet owners. It reflects our shared ethos of striving not only to provide excellent care for animals but also to support one another. It really is a hugely positive for morale.
Obtaining my diploma is, to be honest, my proudest achievement. It represented the culmination of an immense amount of hard work, and the relief of passing the exams at the end was huge!
I'm also really proud of the people I have had the privilege to help train; especially when they have gone on to achieve their career goals. Some of them faced significant challenges on their journey and witnessing them push on through and succeed and knowing that I played a small part in supporting their success has been incredibly rewarding. So, while obtaining my diploma holds the top spot, a very close second is seeing the growth and achievements of others. It's truly fantastic.
I live in Bristol, which is a vibrant city with plenty to offer. I enjoy all the typical city activities like dining out and going to the theatre. On weekends, I love spending time outdoors, often with my dog. Whether it's walking, heading to the beach, or hiking up mountains! Living in a city is great during the week because there's always something interesting happening but the weekends are definitely for the mountains and the sea.
[Lucie’s very handsome ginger cat, Emlyn has been making a few appearances on screen throughout]
I have a standard poodle named Purdey. She's a bit of a diva but incredibly sweet and on the whole well behaved, which is a relief as she travels pretty much everywhere with me, including work. She has a proper poodle personality—very snooty and somewhat standoffish, but also quite funny and sassy. Then there's Emlyn, my rescue cat. He uses my house as a hotel, I swear I hardly see him in summer. He moved in nearly 2 years ago, when he was around eight months old. They both get along really well.
A camping trip through the Canadian Rockies. I went just before the pandemic, in the summer of 2019. We set up camp every night and took it down each morning before moving on to the next location (whilst dodging the bears!); it was exhausting but wonderful!