Working at different practices has always been driven by a desire to do something different

Dave Hough
As a teenager I knew I wanted to be a vet – it never occurred to me to consider anything else.

After qualifying I worked as a locum in my foster practice for a couple of months over the summer covering vets’ annual leave.

Then I went travelling for a short time, starting in New Zealand and, very conveniently, happened to be in Australia during the Rugby World Cup. When I got home I started looking for a job. It was the first Christmas in a long time that I wasn’t revising for exams.

Working in mixed practice

I knew I wanted to work in mixed practice, so the plan was to get the right job wherever it was and go from there.

As it happened, my first job was close to home in Lancashire. After such a long time at vet school, I was happy to finally be a ‘real’ vet.

It was great to be in an area I knew, with lots of old friends around so I could escape the vet ‘bubble’. My family were close by too, and my mum and dad would come round to do the gardening!

After a year, I moved to Shropshire to be closer to my girlfriend who is also a vet and now my wife. We stayed there for 10 years.

Joining White Cross Vets

I joined White Cross Vets in Birmingham in 2012. My vision of job satisfaction aligned with the group’s mission – offering a high level of client care and high clinical standards. And because the day-to-day decisions are made by the vets managing the group’s practices, I could do my job in a way that I enjoyed while keeping everyone happy.

In the five years I was there, the practice grew from one vet and two veterinary nurses, to a point where it was looking to employ a fifth vet. This growth provided huge personal satisfaction.

Moving to Sheffield 

By now, my wife and I had children and we wanted to move closer to family in Sheffield. I talked it over with the leadership team and it turned out that my request happened to coincide with the group’s decision to expand into south Yorkshire. It opened a new practice for me, and I have settled in nicely.

My constant aim throughout my working life has been to work close to home, in a busy and successful practice. I have achieved the first part of this and with 1000 pets registered with my practice in the first six weeks, the signs are good that I will not only replicate what I did in Birmingham, but exceed it.

The moves I’ve made between practices have always been driven by a desire to do something different or new, not because I disliked where I was at the time. I’ve been lucky – the practices I’ve worked at have been very supportive, helping me through the clinical dilemmas I’ve faced.

"Practice allows us to add many skills to those we gained at vet school and listening is probably the most important skill I’ve acquired"

My biggest challenges have involved moving practice, either from mixed practice to small animal, or from one practice to another. Leaving your comfort zone is never easy.

I’m inspired by vets who have been in the profession for a long time and remain as enthusiastic as when they first started. I too enjoy being a vet — all aspects of it – although if pushed I would say medicine is more my thing. With this in mind, I’m particularly keen to promote geriatric medicine and care.

Practice allows us to add many skills to those we gained at vet school and listening is probably the most important skill I’ve acquired.

Keeping a healthy work-life balance can be a challenge. I do my best to keep the two separate. I try not to do work things at home and vice versa. This is made easier because I don’t have an out-of-hours commitment. If the day goes smoothly, I don’t often get home late, and can spend time with my family.

I enjoy being out in the countryside and south Yorkshire has plenty to offer a family with young children; it makes me really happy.

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