Building a specialist career within neurology
Becoming a neurology specialist
Teaching and travelling are aspects of my role that I’ve always particularly enjoyed. My work as a neurologist has given me the chance to do that on a regular basis, both within the UK and further afield.
I’m dedicated to making clinical neurology an easy, logical and enjoyable topic. Teaching, together with regular contributions to peer-reviewed papers, has helped me to achieve an international reputation in the field of veterinary neurology.
But where did it start? I grew up in the south of France in Marseille, and graduated from Toulouse veterinary school in 1996. Subsequently, I undertook a residency in neurology and neurosurgery at the Royal Veterinary College, London, which ended in 1999.
After a six-year spell with the Animal Health Trust as a senior clinician in neurology/neurosurgery, I moved to Davies Veterinary Specialists in 2005 where I established and headed up its neurology/neurosurgery service.
When I join CVS Referrals next month, I will lead the teleneurology service reporting on MRI scans and imparting neurology advice. I will also deliver neurology CPD to the practice division and assist with challenging neurology cases (advice and surgical intervention) at the referral centres.
The attraction of neurology
There were many things that initially attracted me to neurology. It’s a logical discipline – one where you rely on your clinical skills to pick up as many clues as you can from your patients to help you reach a diagnosis. I rely heavily on clinical examination, as well as what the pet owners tell me about their animal, in order to achieve a diagnosis. There are many parallels with paediatric work; for example, the inability of our patients to communicate their symptoms.
"It’s a logical discipline – one where you rely on your clinical skills to pick up as many clues as you can from your patients to help you reach a diagnosis"
Many neurology patients are emergencies, which is another aspect that I find rewarding. I enjoy the buzz and adrenaline rush involved in having to produce the rapid answers that are needed to predict successful or unsuccessful outcomes.
Clinical neurologists need a variety of skills. We are clinicians, diagnostic imagers, clinical pathologists and surgeons.
I especially like teaching as it keeps my feet on the ground. Having the opportunity to meet and discuss cases with colleagues working in first-opinion practice, while listening to their concerns, is also very rewarding.
Professional contribution to neurology
To help make neurology more accessible, I co-founded the Veterinary Neurology Facebook page with Simon Platt. In just two years, it has grown to over 30,000 followers.
He and I also co-edited the book ‘Small Animal Neurological Emergencies’ and we created the Online Veterinary Symposium, which took place in October 2018.
My main clinical and research interests are cerebrovascular diseases, complex neurosurgical procedures, paroxysmal dyskinesia, feline neurology and neuroimaging and I have authored and co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed neurology articles and book chapters.
A quirky fact
The truth is that I never planned to be a vet. I always dreamed of being an airline pilot – in fact, I still do! I compensated for this by gaining my private pilot’s licence.
I also feel I apply the training and mindset required of a pilot in my daily work. To demonstrate this, I always have a checklist, I think ahead, and I’m constantly reviewing my cases.
Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN)
RCVS/European Board of Veterinary Specialists, specialist in veterinary neurology
Fellow of the RCVS by meritorious contribution to clinical practice
Past-president of the ECVN
Past-chairman of the ECVN examination committee
Former head of the neurology/neurosurgery service at Davies Veterinary Specialists, Hertfordshire