VetPartners supported me when I needed it most

VetPartners supported me when I needed it most

With the support of VetPartners, Gillian Brown’s career is thriving and she feels happier than ever in her role at Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital. Here, Gillian reveals how VetPartners supported her when she needed it most….

WHETHER it’s encouraging us to have fulfilling careers, or ensuring colleagues feel they are cared for during tough times, being part of the VetPartners family has enabled me to thrive.

Even though I qualified as a vet 25 years ago, I’ve never lost my thirst for knowledge and a desire to continue learning.

VetPartners has provided great opportunities to be able to do this and to help me to develop my career in the direction I want to go.

This January, when our clinical director went on 12 months’ maternity leave, I took on her role and it is an exciting opportunity for me at a time when I feel my career is blossoming.

In 2021 I completed my Certificate in Small Animal Medicine, which was funded by VetPartners, and I was able to have time off to study, which was a huge advantage as it enabled me to meet the demands of the course.

Studying for a certificate is challenging and demanding, and I hadn’t appreciated the pressure I was under until I finished. A lot of hard work goes into it and you have to be strict and methodical, so feeling supported by my practice and by VetPartners was of great benefit to me.

VetPartners appreciates good medicine and good surgery and places an emphasis on evidence-based veterinary medicine. That is how I have always worked and, although I was keeping up to date with everything, my knowledge has increased through doing the certificate. It is good to be able to reaffirm you’re doing the right things.

One of the aspects of the job I love at Prince Bishop Vets is being able to mentor and teach the new graduates. Supporting colleagues, and particularly helping young graduates to bridge the gap between university and practice life, is also very much part of the ethos of VetPartners.

We meet up regularly to ensure there is a support network for young vets to discuss their progress, areas where they perhaps need help and how they are coping with the demands of the job.

Whether it is the wellbeing or new graduates or experienced vets in practice, VetPartners is a caring group that places a high priority on the wellbeing of colleagues.

It was actually during the middle of my studies for the certificate that my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and subsequently died.  I was fortunate enough to be allowed time off at short notice to travel home to my father and support him during radiotherapy and the compassionate leave afforded to me by VetPartners is something I will be forever grateful for following his death.  This was very different to my previous experience following the death of my mother in 2006 when I certainly had to return to work before I was ready.

Being part of VetPartners meant I was hugely supported and there was never any pressure to return to work when I wasn’t ready. You feel a mix of emotions as you feel guilty for colleagues but you know you shouldn’t be in work when you’re not functioning to the level you should be. But there was never any doubt that I wasn’t supported and cared for until I was ready to return.

I’ve so much to look forward to in 2022. Even though I’ve been qualified for 25 years, I want to keep on learning and there are other areas that I’m looking to increase my knowledge. There are opportunities to continue my life-long learning with VetPartners and continue to progress my career development.

Gillian Brown is a vet at Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in Leadgate, near Consett, in County Durham, where she has worked since 2000.

She graduated from the University of Bristol in 1996 and worked in New Zealand, before returning to the UK to work in Derby and her native Northern Ireland.