Confused about your career? Coaching could help you find clarity
Nat Scroggie took part in a group career coaching programme after she began to question whether being a vet was still right for her. The insights she gained have helped her work out what she wants next from her career.
Like most of my colleagues, I spent my first year in practice worrying that I would never get the hang of being a vet, and that I would spend the rest of my career feeling absolutely terrified. As I entered my second year, I was relieved to discover that I did in fact have a ‘comfort zone’ and was enjoying hanging out in it. By my third year, I started to resent said comfort zone, and began to wonder if this really was the career for me. The three-year slump.
That was when I heard about a new group career coaching programme being offered by VDS Training in conjunction with Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify (VSGD). Being a vet is a huge part of my identity and when you’ve worked your whole life to get somewhere, it can be really frightening when you start to question whether it is actually the right path for you. It can also be a very lonely place, which is why the group element of the programme really appealed to me.
The course runs over five months and is centred around regular live online coaching sessions and fortnightly webinars. These are supported by a workbook, which you complete along the way, and a private Facebook group that you use to interact with the rest of your cohort and the coaches. This element is key to the process, and offers a safe space to share ideas, progress and wobbles.
There were 25 people in my cohort, all at different stages of their careers, and we were supported by Ebony Escalona [the founder of VSGD] and two experienced coaches, Carolyne Crowe and Penny Barker. Aside from the live coaching sessions, the rest of the course can be done in your own time and pace, so it was easily achievable despite our busy roles.
My self-awareness grew hugely throughout the process, which can be an uncomfortable experience at times. Early on we completed DISC profiles. These are detailed behavioural profiles (DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) that give you an insight into your personality and behaviour, but also how others might perceive you. I found mine scarily accurate, with a few home truths. Most of us have a fair idea of our good sides and our less good sides, but seeing it written in black and white can be tough! The rest of the group helped me realise that I’d focused entirely on the areas I perceived to be negative, and totally disregarded all my strengths. This is a behaviour I realised I do a lot – and have decided to work on!
Once I became comfortable with this new level of self-awareness, I felt like I made huge breakthroughs. I started to understand why I responded well to certain situations, and badly to others, and how this can be applied to decisions in my career. After a while, I also became a lot more accepting of my natural strengths and weaknesses. Ironically, I found that acknowledging and coming to terms with my weaknesses helped my self-confidence grow.
We also spent a lot of time identifying our core values, something I’d never really thought about at all. It seems obvious now, but it is a lot easier to work out your next step once you know what is truly important to you and where you get your energy from. A bit of soul-searching is always going to bring ups and downs, but I found it very reassuring going through this journey with others facing similar challenges.
‘I started to understand why I responded well to certain situations, and badly to others’
As we progressed through the course we also worked on CVs, interview strategies and networking skills. We put these into practice at the London Vet Show, with our coaches there to help make introductions and provide some moral support. Thankfully we also worked on scheduling and time management which helped us fit it all in!
Overall, the programme helped me realise just how much I love being a vet. But I also understood why my current role wasn’t working for me.
So, do I know exactly where I’m going now? Not exactly. I know that I want to combine being a clinical vet with exploring my passion for exercise and well-being, and a love of writing and speaking. I also know that I want to dedicate proper time to Vet MINDS, a project aiming to provide support to veterinary professionals facing baby loss and infertility. I’m not sure how all of this fits neatly together, but I’ve found ways to bring them all into my week, and I’ve never been happier in my career, or felt more part of the profession.
I’ve always believed my veterinary degree would be an amazing passport, but I knew I might need to be creative to see where it would take me. Group career coaching gave me a space to be brave, feel a little less brave, and find it all over again with the support of the coaches and the rest of the cohort. Some of us have made huge changes, others have realised just how happy they can be just as they are. Both are equally massive steps.
Want to know more?
BVA members can claim a 5% discount on the cost of the course by using the code 5BVA when registering.
Nat Scroggie is a small animal vet who locums regularly in practices around the East Midlands, while continuing to expand her writing and media work. She founded the Vet MINDS group in 2019, which serves to support veterinary professionals facing infertility and baby loss. See www.thisvet.co.uk for more information.