Meet one of our first Graduate Vets, Tom

by PDSA | 26 February

Tom joined PDSA on the very first year of our Graduate Programme in 2013. He worked his way up through various roles as a vet before accepting a non-clinical role as Central Veterinary Operations Manager.

What made you want to get into the veterinary profession?

“I’ve always loved animals. I had pets growing up and came from a family that studies medicine. Initially, I wanted to be an equine vet but during my time at vet school I became much more interested in small animal work. And I decided I wanted to work in a hospital-based setting rather than a rural veterinary practice.”

What skills did you develop on the PDSA Graduate Programme? What was your overall experience like?

“I had a fantastic experience on the PDSA Graduate Programme, developing both my medical knowledge and my surgical skills. I think the biggest learning was how to work with pet owners to get the best outcome for them and their pet, rather than just focussing on the animal in front of you.

“My initial concerns about working for a charity rather than having every test at your fingertips were quickly dispelled, and I think that working in that environment made me a better vet as a result.”

Have you passed on any top tips or knowledge to others that have done the Graduate Programme?

“I was fortunate enough that following my Graduate Programme I could stay on at the Glasgow East Pet Hospital. One year later, I became a clinical coach for the graduates starting in subsequent cohorts. It was great to take what I had learned and pass it on to other new grads on the programme as they started their PDSA journey.”

What was your favourite and least favourite thing about working in one of our Pet Hospitals?

“I appreciated the exposure to the case load and the variety in the job. I could go from doing a complex fracture repair in the morning to vaccinations in the afternoon which meant that I never knew what to expect from my day, and it always kept me on my toes.

“I don’t think there really was a least favourite aspect of working as a vet at PDSA – almost everything was better than what I was expecting from a first job. There were definitely some sights and smells that even vet school couldn’t prepare me for, but it was all part of the fun!”

Why did you choose to do your training at PDSA?

“I came across the PDSA Graduate Programme by chance whilst on a clinical EMS (Extra-Mural Studies) placement in my fourth year at vet school. I was told then that PDSA was launching a Graduate Programme in 2013 and I should consider applying.

“The team there were great and the exposure I had to different clinical cases was so much more than what I’d seen elsewhere. I recognised this was a great opportunity. Graduate programmes weren’t really a thing back in 2013, and PDSA were leading the way in offering the fantastic opportunity. I had always intended to do my first year at PDSA and then consider moving on, and over ten years later, I’m still here.”

Would you recommend PDSA as a place to train and develop?


How has your career developed since being a Graduate Vet on the programme?

“After I completed the Graduate Programme I was fortunate enough to be offered a role as Vet Surgeon at Glasgow East PDSA Pet Hospital. Then, I went on to be Vet Surgeon Team Leader and then Senior Veterinary Surgeon (SVS). I was leading the hospital as SVS for six years and gained a vast amount of experience - I absolutely loved it.

“More recently I’ve been appointed as Central Veterinary Operations Manager which is, unbelievably, even more diverse than my role as SVS. I work with the Veterinary Senior Leadership team and the teams at our Pet Hospitals to ensure they have the support they need, as well as ensuring our clients can access our services.”

What was your biggest surprise about working at PDSA? How did and didn’t your role meet preconceived expectations?

“I think my biggest take away was that working for a veterinary charity doesn’t mean that the quality of care is any less than at a private practice. My experience in a charity care setting hasn’t provided me with any less either in terms of clinical and leadership development.

“There is a perception that as a charity we can’t do as much for pets, and although we have a responsibility to use our donated income in the most appropriate way, working within the charity sector has made me all the more driven and compassionate.”

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

“Leading a hospital through the pandemic was undoubtedly my biggest challenge. Not knowing each day how the rules could change, and what that meant for us, our clients, and our services was really daunting. This all came with the huge responsibility to keep everyone safe whilst still preserving animal welfare. PDSA was brilliant at guiding the hospitals through such an uncertain time, but it was definitely the biggest challenge I have faced so far.”

Share this article on:  PDSA | 26 February


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