How does it feel when you have been the boss in your own clinic for over 20 years, having made your own decisions, having taken on most of the risks and responsibilities of running a business and being used to do this “your way” and then you find yourself once again as the “ordinary” member of a team of new colleagues ,who have never heard of you and who have no idea how good or bad you are?…..
To be frank: both exciting and frightening (the latter even more so, as I had done very little clinical work as a vet over the last four months)….
But this was one of the things I had set out to do all along – just put yourself out there again, open your mind to the wonderful profession we have and both try to become a better vet by continuing to learn and at the same time to pass on the skills and the knowledge you have to colleagues, to improve their skills as well.
Good idea, but easier said than done……
Once back in the UK I sent my CV to the local clinics and placed it on one of the the main veterinary locum sites. It didn’t take long until I was approached by the manager of a veterinary group in Abingdon in Oxfordshire.
That suited me extremely well, as there was still some work to be done at “Patient 58” in Oxford – which I hoped to finish in my spare time – and I thought that I knew the town already, having frequented their industrial estate numerous times during the building work in the summer.
Little did I know of the medieval history of the place and of the villages around it and of the also very interesting recent history (eg that MGs were produced here at some point).
So one early Monday morning at the beginning of November, I fund myself in the middle of a very international group of vets, veterinary nurses and receptionists at the main clinic in 2,The Vineyard (with not many vines in sight….) in Abingdon. My colleagues came from Spain, from Portugal, from Hongkong, from NewZealand and yes, there were also a fair number of British vets and nurses. This was a reminder of my first job in the UK over 25 years in Camberley, when the team included vets from South Africa, Australia and Belgium. Seeing all these colleagues with different cultural and educational back grounds communicating and working together as a team was both exciting and refreshing to see and I loved it from the first minute. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly, partially because they had been in the same situation not so long before me. With regards to my apprehensions about the current level of my clinical skills – I didn’t have much time to dwell over it, as I had to get into action right away with a greyhound that had just been run over by a car with severely traumatised limbs. This friendly and very brave patient kept me and the team busy for the following four weeks.
Other memorable cases like a 70+ kg weighing Dogue de Bordeaux with a pyometra, dogs with grass blades up their nose, a range of different poisoning cases and the unavoidable seasonal gastro-intestinal foreign body case followed and I realised why I had missed the clinical site of my job so much. It was an inspiration to see how much attention to detail and dedication each member of staff gave to the patients in our care and looking back at it now, we neither lost a patient nor was there a single euthanasia I can recall during my stay.
During my breaks I found time enough to explore the numerous coffee places and delis in Abingdon, the town museum and the medieval Abbey , which was temporarily occupied by vampires …..
Time after work was spend with long night runs along the – sometimes flooded – towpaths of the Thames and the occasional visit to one of the local restaurants with my new colleagues.
It was with a heavy heard when I had to leave this wonderful group of people and the just lovely management team in Abingdon, but new challenges were waiting……
On my last day of work, I even bumped into Santa Claus !……
To be precise into 300 or so of them together with ….not their reindeers, but their dogs !…..
In Wallingford, where I had a small flat while working in Abingdon, they had their annual Santa Claus Run and – of course – the family dogs could not be left behind for the occasion.
And – to maintain the right balance (for my feline-friendly followers….) – there also was one big cat!…..