Category: Career Interview/Q&A

  • Dr Ben Porter – Scientific Services Veterinarian

    Dr Ben Porter – Scientific Services Veterinarian

    Scientific Services Veterinarian (Royal Canin Australia and New Zealand)

    Posted: 05/01/2023

    Salary

    £60k +

    Travel

    Travel is a requirement of the role, but the amount of travel is quite variable from month-to-month (usually a few days per month). During 'conference season' there are extensive travel commitments.

    Region

    AUS

    Essential Skills

    Excellent communication skills.

    Values

    Collaborative, creativity, ambition, drive.

    Dr Ben Porter

    Check out our Career Q & A questions below to take a deep dive into this career path.  If you’re interested in this type of career but unsure how to take the next step, click below to learn more about our services designed to support you.

    After graduation, I launched my veterinary career at a large mixed practice in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia, where I was a jack-of-all-trades and gained extensive experience in all facets of small and large animal medicine and surgery. I thrived off the diverse and busy caseload and had a particular interest in orthopaedics, reconstructive surgery, dentistry, and avian medicine and surgery. After 6.5 years of full-time practice, I got to the point where I liked but no longer loved being in clinical practice. There were several reasons for this, including owner cost-constraints, long hours, lack of work-life balance, and ultimately the regular after-hours. Even to this day, certain ring tones elicit my stress response.

    I have never been change-averse and have always kept my career options open. As luck would have it, I received a call out of the blue from a close friend who was a Technical Services Veterinarian for a large global animal health company. This call coincided with a period when I was dissatisfied with clinical practice. A maternity-leave position had become available, and I was asked if I would be interested in applying. It was the most opportune time to make a move into the animal health industry.

    There were no specific qualifications other than a veterinary degree and a ‘few years’ of clinical practice.

    The only issue I very occasionally encountered was the perception of other vets that considered industry to be “The Darkside” and that I was “no longer a real vet”. To be honest, once I explained to them my role and it’s inherent benefits particularly around work-life balance, they always end up asking if there are any similar positions coming up.

    The best bits are definitely that I get to be creative, analytical, problem-solve, and collaborate with absolutely amazing people. On top of that, there are many ‘perks’ to my role including:

    • Flexible working conditions, including the ability to work for home
    • Good remuneration + bonuses
    • Versatile role/cross-collaboration
    • Exposure to continuing education
    • Opportunities for career and skill set development
    • Social interactions & networking
    • Travel, both domestic and international.
    • On the flip-side, the travel can be draining especially during ‘Conference Season’ which sees me living out of my suitcase for periods at a time.

    Every day is highly variable, which is something I embrace and love. Most days kick off with team or project meetings, approving social media content for our digital team to ensure it meets brand and regulatory guidelines, replying to any pressing emails, and resolving any escalated or difficult consumer care enquiries. The latter is something I enjoy as you get to use your clinical knowledge to assess patient histories, laboratory findings, etc. to determine the best nutritional support for the patient. The rest of my day is spent reviewing technical marketing pieces, working on local/regional/global projects, providing internal and external nutritional training, driving key opinion leader (KOL) and key account engagement, drafting communication and educational pieces, etc.

    Embrace change, value yourself, trust your intuition, and network. Never be afraid to ask for advice or help.

    Come on the journey with Vets Stay Go Diversify

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    Meet Our Team

    Ebony is a veterinarian, vetmed educator, speaker and mentor. She focuses on unlocking people’s potential and building confidence in others through her advisory positions, consultant to a number of congresses, and as an entrepreneur.

    She is fascinated with harnessing technology to support animal health education in developing countries and collaborates with tech charities.  She is also co-founder of VetYou – helping to support professionals in their financial future. Ebony is also a visiting lecturer at Surrey University and publishes work in the field of gut health on whole horse health. Ebony is the recipient of the inaugural RCVS Inspiration Award and the University of Liverpool Alumni Award.

    Melanie is a veterinarian, entrepreneur, speaker, educator, and mum. Melanie loves working with teams to create change, find new ways to think through problems, and collaborate.

    She holds a DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College, and MBA in Sustainable Commerce from the University of Guelph, and a Project Management Professional designation.  

    Melanie has held roles in many fields of vet med including sport horse medicine, consulting, laboratory, surveillance, not-for-profit/ NGO, and charity sectors.  She founded the DVM Project, the North American branch of VSGD, and formally joined the VSGD team in September 2022.  Melanie’s MBA research focused on veterinary career paths.

    Outside of vet med, Melanie loves riding horses, hiking and cross country skiing, writing, and beekeeping.

     

    Adrian is a professional coach, speaker, writer, entrepreneur, business owner and veterinarian with nearly 25 years’ experience in the veterinary profession. He has been coaching and training teams for over 15 years. He has coached over 100 people to successful career changes.

    He brings significant commercial and marketing expertise to any project, with 10 years of management experience at Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Colgate Palmolive.

    Recognised as a thought leader in the veterinary industry, he has been invited to speak at numerous international seminars, events, Universities and company programmes. Adrian is also a Director at Vets, Stay, Go, Diversify.

    Sophia is a veterinary surgeon and former British Army officer. She qualified as a vet in 2007 from the University of Cambridge. She has has worked as an equine and small animal clinician in the private and charity sectors, as well as serving as a Veterinary Officer with the army, including deployments to Afghanistan, Jordan, and Germany.

    Sophia’s professional interests relate to the (many!) potential benefits of technology, data science, and behavioural economics to animal healthcare.

    Sophia lives on a farm in the Welsh borders with her husband, two sons, and wayward Border Terrier.

    Share your experience from your time in practice to roles and responsibilities that you have had

    What type of team player are you? If people were to describe you in three words what would they be (great exercise to do with friends and peers)

    These are things that must be in place in order for you to consider a role. Location or working hours are common features here.

    Remi is a stay-versifier who works as a Registered Veterinary Nurse and Vet Student. When she isn’t studying, she works behind the scenes at VSGD to help support the community pages and Secret Support emails.

    Remi has a passion for interprofessionalism in clinical practice and likes to help young students realise that anyone can pursue a career as a veterinary professional.

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  • Jenny Cantlay – Communications Officer for the...

    Jenny Cantlay – Communications Officer for the One Health European Joint Programme

    BVM&S, MRCVS, GP Cert SAM, MVetSci
    Communications Officer for the One Health European Joint Programme (University of Surrey)

    Posted: 22/12/2022

    Salary

    £28K - 40K Varies depending on organisation.

    Travel

    Some weekdays travel to office and occasional travel to Europe for events.

    Region

    UK

    Essential Skills

    A veterinary or biosciences degree and a postgraduate qualification.

    Values

    Patient, resourceful, innovative and precise.

    Watch Jenny here...

    …with this fab panel discussing switching to a career in conservation.

    Jenny Cantlay

    Check out our Career Q & A questions below to take a deep dive into this career path.  If you’re interested in this type of career but unsure how to take the next step, click below to learn more about our services designed to support you.

    I initially worked in small animal practices for 12 years to develop my clinical skills. In 2012, I relocated to Asia due to my husband’s work, which gave me the opportunity to change career direction. I have always been interested in wildlife health, conservation, and One Health topics. During my time overseas, I undertook postgraduate studies and was awarded the MVetSci in Conservation Medicine in 2015. The five years spent living in Malaysia and China were filled with amazing experiences, as I did voluntary work for different animal welfare and wildlife conservation NGOs. On returning to the UK, I started a PhD in avian sensory ecology, leading to fantastic fieldwork experiences working with captive and wild birds. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic had various impacts on my doctoral experience, and I made the difficult decision to withdraw. Subsequent time spent doing locum vet work provided me with the flexibility to do a career coaching course, which helped me gain confidence to move forward in a new direction.

    The career coaching was great. I realised that I had acquired many transferable skills from my varied professional life that could be applied to other job roles of interest to me. During my time spent volunteering, I had written articles for magazines and blogs and given presentations at public events about my wildlife experiences to raise public awareness for these NGOs’ work. I gained a great deal of satisfaction from these science communication activities. I also attended some science communications sessions as part of my postgraduate research. To advance my skills, I completed the Communications for Conservation Projects course by Conservation Careers in January 2022. Whilst doing this course, the Communications Officer role for the One Health European Joint Programme was advertised. Since the One Health approach aims to optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems, this role aligned with my interests. So, I applied for the job and was offered it!

    As veterinary professionals, we already have good science communication skills. We communicate daily to a wide variety of people (the public, non-veterinary scientists, and other professionals). We are often producing written information in different styles and formats, including clinical reports, practice newsletters, client information sheets, practice website content. Many vets are already confident in using the digital world to share their veterinary (or other scientific) knowledge on social media platforms, websites, or online forums. Of course, it would be an advantage if you can attend a science or digitial communications courses to learn more about the tools and techniques available, especially for digital communications activities.

    For my Communications Officer role based at the University of Surrey, there was the requirement to have postgraduate science qualifications, and preferably a PhD, due communicating One Health science from this European research programme. Although, I did not have a PhD, I was offered this job due to my background understanding of One Health topics and enthusiasm for writing. Most communication officer roles would not require this level of academic achievement on application, as it is more relevant to have practical understanding of different communications channels and audiences. I have learnt how to do most of my work on the job, and it has been a steep learning curve! Especially being given the responsibility for the digital communications activities (e.g., newsletters, website content, social media etc.), which was completely new to me.

    I really enjoy deciding how to share this research programme’s outputs and activities to various audiences in more easily understandable and engaging ways. For this role, it is important for different stakeholders to understand how this One Health research programme can benefit their work across public, animal health and food safety sectors. I especially like promoting the PhD students’ work, as this increases their confidence. Since this programme is based in Europe, I have the opportunity to travel for attending some events, as I need to promote them.

    This job is flexible since it is a hybrid role, so I mix working from home and going to the university campus. I have the freedom to decide how to manage my daily schedule and tasks within the framework of the Communications Team workplan. Whilst I work full time, my working hours provide better work-life balance than the days of working in small animal practice (inevitably staying late due to an emergency blocked cat at 6pm!). 

    My job is mainly computer-based, and the downside is that I do miss the human-animal interactions that I had as a clinical vet. I have also found it challenging to take on a website administration role without any prior experience in this.

    I deliver the digital communications activities, which involve writing regular internal and external newsletters, creating, and scheduling social media posts on Twitter and LinkedIn, adding content to our website (currently undergoing redesign), and emailing OHEJP members about internal events. I also contribute to reports, presentations, and compile communications data. Another member of the team deals with the creative branding and marketing for our organisation. Every few months, I may need to travel to Europe for a conference or meeting, so that I can provide live social media during the event, take photos, and gather information for reporting back on it afterwards. A reasonable amount of my time is spent doing administrative tasks. Overall, I much prefer the science communication activities to the administration ones!

    Someone who can work both independently and be part of a team who has a passion for sharing scientific information. You must be willing to step out of your veterinary comfort zone and learn how to use digital tools required for various communications activities. It is also important to have attention to detail for writing and editing of communications materials. If you are creative and like using editing photos or designing graphics in Adobe, making videos, or have marketing experience, these skills would also be beneficial.

    I would suggest that if you are interested in this as a career, you should explore how different communication channels can be used to share science information. If you work in practice, learn to administer the Facebook or LinkedIn page for your company, or volunteer your time to help a local charity produce its newsletter or magazine, or start writing blog posts. Professionally, it would be an advantage have done any courses in science communications, especially for digital communications activities, as it is good to understand how websites and social media platforms work.

    Start creating content, both written and other media (videos, social media posts, podcasts etc.) about a topic you are interested in and initially share it with people you trust.

    Be happy to receive their feedback on what you have created.

    Ask them questions to find out what they liked/disliked about it.

    Review what you have created and once you are more confident, share it with a wider group of people.

    Look online to find Communications courses that interest you.

    Come on the journey with Vets Stay Go Diversify

    I need some career inspiration.

    I'm looking for a new job/career path.

    I need some career support to work out what's next for me.

    Curious to know More?

    Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss our free events, resources, and tips!

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  • Nessie Riley – Medical Writer, Alchemy Medical...

    Nessie Riley – Medical Writer, Alchemy Medical Writing

    BSc BVetMed MRCVS

    Posted: 22/12/2022

    Salary

    £31 - 35k - salary will increase with experience.

    Travel

    None - home-based working! (Though some roles are office-based or hybrid-working).

    Region

    UK

    Essential Skills

    A veterinary or bioscience degree Masters or PhD are a bonus.

    Values

    Creativity, Independence, Proactivity, Integrity

    Watch Nessie here

    Have a look at the incredibly inspiring panel “Stories from VSGD: Carving out a career that works for me! Teletriage, Charity, Medical Writing and Family!”

    Nessie riley

    Check out our Career Q & A questions below to take a deep dive into this career path.  If you’re interested in this type of career but unsure how to take the next step, click below to learn more about our services designed to support you.

    I first went into small animal clinical practice as a new graduate, but after a few weeks an old foot injury flaring up meant I couldn’t work on my feet anymore.

    I had always been looking along slightly unusual career paths even through vet school, and knowing I would now need surgery on my foot to repair the historical fracture, seeking a home-based role seemed like it ticked a lot of boxes. I could be healing from home, with flexibility for appointments, whilst earning money and learning new skills. I initially worked as a freelance writer for a vet-run communications company, but after speaking to a vet colleague who had made medical writing her full-time role with another small writing agency (and the agency handily having an opening for a job!), I decided to apply and the rest is history.

    When you look at advice online for getting into medical writing, you’ll usually see that most agencies like you to have a Masters or a PhD. I have neither. It’s all about being a little savvy, and knowing that you already possess a lot of the communication, scientific reasoning, attention to detail and confidentiality skills as a vet!

    “We can be courageous when we stand on solid ground, when we are able to say: “This is who I am. This is what I cherish. This is what I take, and what I give back in exchange.” Sometimes, we choose our paths. Sometimes, our only choice is how we make our journey: alone and resolute, or trusting in those who can uphold and guide us. Solitude is not armour, and the need for others is not weakness. We are all at our strongest when we find our selfhood and embrace it with just enough company and just enough space.
    But as the famous Barack Obama quote goes: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
    Be courageous!”

    For me, I was luckily in a position where the company I was hired by were specifically looking to hire another vet; they knew from their first vet recruit the unique skills and insights we could bring to the role. However, you may need to do a bit of self-promotion in your CV and cover letters, especially if you’re applying to a larger agency, to demonstrate you already have a lot of the skills you need to make a great writer.

    Additionally, if you have any evidence of freelance or hobby writing, these are great to use as a portfolio in your application. Even just writing your practice’s pet advice sheets, an online blog, or an opinion article in a veterinary magazine, these are all great ways to show your enthusiasm and capabilities for writing.

    1) I love how flexible the job is. This is truly a role for someone who has childcare, petcare or healthcare needs that don’t always conform to the 9-5. My company is particularly keen on having a fair work-life balance and never encourages overtime (I know, right!). However, on the very rare occurrence you do end up working overtime, they will always pay it or you can take it back in lieu. My bosses have put so much thought into what they can offer their employees that are truly valuable: we recently had an extra allowance to help with the cost of energy crisis, we have really comprehensive private medical insurance and there are numerous other perks that go far beyond a mere ‘wellbeing webinar and pizza’ afternoon. They’re also really neurodiverse-positive! This won’t be the case for every medical writing company, especially if they’re larger, but you can certainly have your pick of which employer suits you best.

    2) I’m always learning. Medical writing is a game of wearing many hats and sometimes several hats in one day. Depending on the area of work you’re interested in, you can be working on a long-term project over several weeks, or you can be working on multiple smaller individual briefs in one day. You can be bouncing from working on the nitty gritty of regulatory documents (think Clinical Study Reports), editing a manuscript abstract, or designing slide decks for a forthcoming symposium on a rare disease. Each of these requires not only getting up to speed on a new therapy area, but also employing different editing, quality-checking, creative and writing skills. You’ll rarely be bored!

    3) We’re in demand. Medical writers are much needed at the moment with the scores of new research being published. The Covid-19 pandemic showed us that timelines can be condensed and as such, we now need lots of people who can accurately convey the results of these trials in meaningful ways to various audiences – from the research scientist, to the general practitioner, to the layperson. As such, you can carve your writing career according to your preferences, and there will always be a niche you can fill.

    I’m currently writing original-content articles for the digital therapeutic business Sidekick Health. They’ve just received their Series B funding for the development of new health apps that can be used by patients experiencing a range of chronic diseases, to help improve their symptom management and quality of life. These apps are akin to being prescribed a drug to alleviate symptoms, except it’s digital. It’s a really exciting and rapidly-developing area of medicine and it’s an honour to be writing articles for them. Some articles can take me less than a day, especially if I’m summarising a recent published paper for them, but some are much longer, pillar educational articles and these can take me a couple of days to make sure I have thoroughly researched, formatted and referenced everything I say.

    A more typical ‘MedComms’ (the term we use for traditional medical writing that isn’t the heavier regulatory work) brief would be to take in slide deck amends. A slide deck is really just a powerpoint presentation (I wasn’t familiar with the term when I began!) but they can be pretty extensive, especially when they’re being used for drug launches or conferences. Every single statement on there has to be referenced and supported by published literature, and depending on whether the content is promotional or non-promotional, careful editing of the phrasing can be required, as stipulated by the client or reviewer comments. You may even be asked to create new slides or design infographics and depending on how long the deck is, this can take anything from an hour to a day or more to complete. The beauty of the role is the variety of what you’ll get in each brief.

    Medical writing is often done in an office environment but we are increasingly seeing home-based roles, or a mixture of the two. Therefore, someone who is able to work remotely when it’s needed and has the ability to manage their own time, is going to thrive. That’s not to say these skills can’t be learned, though – it is a big learning curve coming from being a clinical vet anyway and with both introverts and extroverts on our team, I think most people can adapt in a way that suits them!


    Someone who loves paying attention to detail is also going to thrive. A lot of the work we do requires reference-checking, editing and quality control, and so someone who will spot the capitalisation mistake or the referencing error will do really well! It’s satisfying, and becomes muscle memory after a while, but it’s not for everyone.

    Firstly, avoid the really big agencies to begin with (I’d be happy to let you know which ones to avoid in particular). As with any professional service, they can get overrun with work and unfortunately do sometimes leave their writers with a mountain of briefs and inflexible deadlines. Instead, aim for a smaller agency that takes on overflow work from these larger agencies. That way you’re more likely to gain one-to-one teaching and guidance from your team, and you’ll also always have that extra buffer between you and the end client e.g the pharma company. This takes out a lot of the stress, and means you can stick to your working hours much more easily.

    Secondly, keep your MRCVS status but change it to non-practicing on the register. This way, if you ever do want to go back into clinical work, it’ll make it much easier. It’ll also give your work a bit more clout, especially if you find veterinary medical writing jobs (though these are not common, most of your work will tend to be human-based.)

    As a vet, particularly as a new graduate freshly out of vet school, I did feel the old imposter syndrome too. I wondered how I could be considered an ‘authority’ on human medical topics, and I was afraid of making mistakes. But, as ever, communication is key. Admitting your worries to your team or those supporting you in the transition can really help to spell out what it is you need to focus on supporting yourself in. For example, for me, I found I was worried about working on new treatment areas that involved a lot of immunomodulatory therapies. Although we do use them in veterinary medicine, it’s not nearly as much as you’ll discover they’re used in human medicine! The answer to this was to get myself up to speed with the help of my mentor. We went through a powerpoint on the basics, and applied it together to the dermatology topic I was working on at the time, and now I feel much more confident.

    In the end, it’s all about working as a team. You’re almost never going to be the only person working on a project; you’ll be taking one part of it and handing it back. Therefore, knowing you’re one of many cogs in an amazing scientific machine can help relieve the pressure, and also gives you the solution: ask your team for help! No one knows everything and even your clients will have their knowledge gaps, so try not to feel like you can’t ask for clarity or support. Try instead to see it as an exciting learning opportunity, and be comforted that there will always be someone who can help along the way.

    1) Have a go at writing something – even if it’s just a short opinion piece!

    2) Overhaul your CV to be writing-based – don’t forget to mention your excellent communication skills, or any creative/design skills you have on the side.

    3) Take a look at EMWA (European Medical Writers Association) for tips on getting into the field.

    Come on the journey with Vets Stay Go Diversify

    I need some career inspiration.

    I'm looking for a new job/career path.

    I need some career support to work out what's next for me.

    Curious to know More?

    Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss our free events, resources, and tips!

    Continue Reading

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