Employing new graduates is about tailoring support to an individual’s needs

Helen Navran and Samantha Bird Co-joint venture partners Helen Navran (left) and Samantha Bird

I always wanted to be my own boss, and in October 2016 I opened Vets4Pets Cardiff Bay. Initially I was a sole joint venture partner (JVP), but I was soon joined by Samantha as co-JVP in 2017.

We worked together for a while before becoming co-JVPs (Samantha had locumed at the practice), and realised that our standards of care, ethics and long-term goals were the same. We became firm friends and then, eventually, business partners.

Supporting new vets

We soon realised that we shared similar views on how to best support and mentor new young vets. We believed that training a new graduate must be pivotal to the team, practice culture and ways of working. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for every practice or for every graduate.

It’s important to strike the right balance. We are careful not to mollycoddle our young vets, but neither do we leave them to fend for themselves. We set out clear rules and treat them with respect.

In their first few months, senior colleagues accompany new graduates during consultations. After around three months – if they are confident and comfortable to do so – they run their own consultations and provide routine treatments.

'Training a new graduate must be pivotal to the team'

Generally, though, they are not left in sole charge for at least their first six to 12 months in practice. This isn’t set in stone, it’s all about an individual’s progress. We tailor the support to each vet’s needs.

As a practice, we pride ourselves on supporting new graduates through both the clinical and non-clinical aspects of our work, as well as caring for their mental health and wellbeing. This is of the utmost importance to our team and something to which we are all absolutely committed.

Vets4Pets’ graduate programme supports young vets’ personal and professional development during their first two years in practice. Drawing on our own experience, we’ve built on this to develop a system that works well for our practice, our colleagues and our graduates.

It is through this programme that two new graduates joined our team: Lorna Beeley and Karolina Deptula. They have fitted in well, complementing our team of two senior vets and an outstanding team of VNs.

Lorna Beeley and Karolina Deptula 

New graduates Lorna Beeley and Karolina Deptula

It’s refreshing to experience their positivity and energy; they have really added an extra element to the team, and developed the practice camaraderie.

It was Lorna who – unbeknown to us – nominated the practice for the Vets4Pets Graduate Practice of the Year award. Learning about the nomination was a wonderful surprise, and then winning it was even more special – particularly as this year has been difficult for everyone during Covid-19. It was a nice reason to stop and take a moment to celebrate everyone’s hard work.

As part of her nomination, Lorna said: ‘The management team always checks in on how I feel. No problem is too big and no worry is too small. The reception team go out of their way to help me daily. The nurses consistently inspire me to become better clinically, and the vets’ endless kindness has made me the vet I am today. I continue to feel lucky to work with this team every single day.’

It was great to hear this feedback. As business partners, we have always been driven by wanting to maintain a high level of animal welfare. It is the foundation of everything we do, and to achieve it we need great vets. It’s why we are passionate about helping to nurture, guide and support the next generation of vet professionals.

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