Combining the role of paravet and practice manager
Jildou (centre) won the CVS Group's practice manager of the year award in 2020. She is photographed with (from left) the award ceremony's host, comedian Rory Bremner, CVS chief executive officer Richard Fairman, the group’s international director James Cahill and its chief operating officer Ben Jacklin
After finishing secondary school in the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to live in America for a year where I attended high school as an exchange student and I also learnt a lot about myself.
When the year ended, I returned home and decided to study animal management through a vocational education programme, learning about the relationships between people and animals as well as animal wellbeing and nature management. As part of my studies, I added a module that allowed me to qualify as a paravet or ‘paraveterinair’ as they are called in Holland. Like vet nurses, paraveterinairs have extended knowledge and skills, and are legally allowed to perform more tasks than animal nurses.
After graduating I struggled to find a job, so to keep busy I did a variety of roles, including being a postal worker and a bank employee.
Eventually, I heard that the vet practice at Sneek, where I had completed my training, was looking for a paraveterinair. In 2005, I applied and was very happy to be offered the job.
Although practice management isn’t part of the traditional role of a paraveterinair, I got the opportunity to take on some administrative work, including having responsibility for the practice website. I enjoyed supporting the clinic’s owners in this way, and I also gained a real insight into what it means to run a practice.
In December 2017 the practice was bought by the CVS Group, which led to some changes. Two years later, I was promoted to the role of practice manager, as well as performing the role of a paraveterinair. Combining both roles and doing justice to both has been a challenge as well as an opportunity.
The best thing about my job is the variety, although juggling both roles can be tricky. I find the best way to achieve a good balance is to focus on one job at a time. The days dedicated to administration are spent at my desk.
As a paraveterinar I may be manning the reception desk, answering the phone, greeting clients, giving out prescribed medications and selling pet food, or I might be assisting the vet or doing laboratory work. Working in a busy practice ensures I never get bored.
Being a natural introvert is a challenge. Sometimes my work takes me outside of my comfort zone, which can leave me feeling a bit overwhelmed. However, I find it helps to remind myself that such moments are temporary. In these circumstances, I use my day off to recharge, relax and have fun.
Advice I would give my younger self
I would tell myself not to worry so much about making mistakes – they are a learning opportunity, not the end of the world. Also, don’t underestimate what you are able to do.
I enjoy group travel – seeing beautiful new countries and having adventures, while also getting to meet new people. My holiday highlights have included hiking in Nepal and relaxing on a beach in Boa Vista, Cape Verde.
Getting the job as practice manager has been a huge challenge, but after only eight months in post, I was nominated for the CVS Group practice manager of the year award and I was surprised and delighted to win. It was totally unexpected, especially as I hadn’t been doing the role for long.
I am proud and happy to have been recognised for my hard work and dedication. It has inspired me to learn more about practice management and to continue to improve my skills and knowledge.