As a young farm vet, who graduated four years ago, Charlie Mays is often asked for advice by veterinary students on what they should look for in their first job after graduation.
Here, Charlie, who works at LLM Farm Vets, explains how VetPartners’ culture of warmth and belonging is helping him to thrive in his career…
VETERINARY students I speak to are taken aback when I explain that clinical caseload, progression and a generous CPD budget come further down the list than what I consider to be far more important qualities in an employer.
For me, the most important things to consider when you’re taking your first step in the profession is the culture and the values of the business you’re joining.
If a veterinary group has a healthy workplace culture, where team members feel valued, cared for and there is a high priority placed on wellbeing, then you can be confident that every decision made will benefit everyone.
If you can find a practice with the right people around you, who live and breathe the culture of the wider business, then your clinical skills will naturally develop, along with your career.
If the culture is right, everything else falls into place.
This was my approach when I joined LLM Farm Vets, which is part of VetPartners, and it has served me well in the time I’ve been with them.
I was blown way in my first meeting with the clinical directors as they seemed to know all about me and couldn’t have made me feel more welcome or wanted.
They had checked out that I would be a right fit for the team before interviewing me as it is important to them that they employ the right personalities and help them to develop their clinical skills so they can have fulfilling, rewarding careers, but are also happy in their role. From my experience with VetPartners, the main emphasis on employment is to ensure the person fits the culture.
For a vet still in the early stages of my career, it was what I wanted to hear as I felt confident they wanted me for my personality and what I could bring to the practice.
VetPartners lives up to its reputation as a people-centred business, with a culture of warmth and belonging.
I have been made to feel like the sky is the limit; they’ve encouraged my ideas and, what has been most reassuring, is that they have been true to their word with conversations we had during my interview, delivering on promises and sticking to their plans.
If you’re a new graduate, asking a potential employer about CPD budgets will not ultimately make you a happy vet.
If, however, you ask about the culture, the values that are important and what social events they organise during practice get-togethers and nights out, then that is what is going to sustain you if you’re looking for a lengthy, fulfilling career as a vet. It is when you have a good connection with colleagues that liberates you to speak openly and honestly about your wellbeing, your ambitions, your grievances and your successes.
VetPartners provides excellent CPD courses that bring added value, but most of my learning has not been through formal CPD. It has been from conversations with vets, being out on farms and having a supportive team around me.
In my view, businesses that do best are the ones who look after their people and have the happiest vets.
We have an LLM cricket team, we go running together and have a Friday night pub clubs. We support each other in and out of our work. If someone is running behind if a visit has taken longer, someone will pick up their visits, and we frequently check in with each other to ensure we are ok.
Our practice leadership team is open and transparent, and we are able to have open, honest dialogue. Even if it is a sensitive conversation, if you have a good connection with colleagues, you feel comfortable raising it.
I consider myself an ideas person and feel comfortable putting them forward to VetPartners.
Vets in practice can still feel a strong connection to VetPartners. We help to shape the culture and help to make it a great place to work. We receive frequent updates about the how the business is performing and what is coming in the pipeline and are often invited to contribute feedback.
If you have a positive culture, you can talk about how you are feeling and your wellbeing. At VetPartners, it is accepted and encouraged.
Another advantage of being part of a larger group is the career opportunities. I feel there is potential to grow my career, whether clinically or non-clinically, which is exciting. I want to develop into a leadership role and I feel supported in that aim. I enjoy speaking to and mentoring new graduates and students and helping them in their early years, which has been embraced by VetPartners.
Charlie graduated from the Royal Veterinary College and has worked for the last three years at LLM Farm Vets in Derbyshire, working mainly with cattle. He has developed a keen interest in dairy fertility, production and business but has always loved the variety of beef and sheep work Derbyshire has to offer. Outside of clinical work Charlie co-founded VetFit, an organisation promoting exercise and sport as a way of maintaining good mental wellbeing. With his rugby days now over Charlie can be found playing golf at the weekends or out with his dogs Archie and Jessie.