Top 10 career lessons from working as a vet in the international charity sector

Next week is my last week working at Brooke, Action For Working Horses and Donkeys which is sad in one way but makes space for a new chapter too. I found myself jotting down some reflections from my time there when I could not sleep and thought other people might like to share their top 10 take aways if you are leaving a job to move onto pastures new!


Working with global Brooke ambassador Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro

Working with global Brooke ambassador Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro

1.Professional identity can bend, flex and grow.

By being interested in what everyone else did I was able to support other roles and grow my skill set by working with teams in fundraising and communications. This VSGD group has been supported by the social media skills of Brooke teams (Thanks Fay Schofield!)

2. Slow and steady usually wins the race.

We can't always have what we want right here right now. Unlike the immediate reward of some of our clinical practice, working for a large organisation often away from the field means career validation has to come in other forms and boy can it be slow!

3. Curiosity trumps defensiveness.

If you don't agree keep asking questions and be interested in the differing option or idea. Working in a global teams means differences will be a daily occurrence. As scientists we can be skeptical and judgmental but we are also great explorers, it’s not always our way or the highway.

4. Human behaviour is fascinating!

As a vet I often want to solve problems straight away and explain how to prevent issues occurring in the future. But this is essentially a one way conversation- me talking! Working with communities where life is tough (really tough) for a whole heap of complex reasons forces you to review your conversation. The art of listening becomes your supervet power, helping to uncover peoples belief systems, concerns and why people do what they do. Positive welfare change takes time. None of us like being told what to do, but we do like working with others and coming up with solutions together, don’t we? I want to continue this fascination a little closer to home.

 
A Gharry horse in Ethiopia. A by law has now been passed with the help of Brooke to help facilitate euthanasia in animals that are no longer fit for work

A Gharry horse in Ethiopia. A by law has now been passed with the help of Brooke to help facilitate euthanasia in animals that are no longer fit for work

5. My heart feels a little weaker and a little stronger.

I can not un-see some of the things I have but this makes continuing to be a voice of voiceless a no brainer.

 
Brooke Central America vets Carlos and Mirciadez in conversation with owners in Nicaragua

Brooke Central America vets Carlos and Mirciadez in conversation with owners in Nicaragua

6. That leaders are everywhere.

Some of the finest have been ones without titles from the field to HQ. We can all have influence so we need to use it wisely. People are watching and some will be role modelling what we do (as well as what we say!) #HiddenCurriculum

7. People can be openly passionate about their job.

Brooke reminded me that being passionate at work is normal and celebrated! Whoever I work with next, this is something I will be looking for.


 
Brooke's HQ vets Laura Skippen, Polly Compston, Shereene Williams, Klara Saville and Ebony Escalona

Brooke's HQ vets Laura Skippen, Polly Compston, Shereene Williams, Klara Saville and Ebony Escalona

8. Simplicity always wins.

We don't have to do everything; we just have to do a few simple things well.

9. Be part of the best team rather than striving to be the best.

It is so much more fulfilling to be a part of the sum of the parts that makes a difference.

 
Supporting clinical skills development in Guatemala. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will feed for a lifetime. Brooke's mantra

Supporting clinical skills development in Guatemala. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will feed for a lifetime. Brooke's mantra

10. Being able to display your values makes you go the extra mile.

Brooke enhanced my values for developing others and myself. It is a four star feeling when I get something new, such as a clinical technique but it is a five star feeling when I help someone get their light-bulb moments.


Ebony on her ex-racer Francis Albert for Brooke's My Hackathon charity challenge- ride 100 miles in a 100 days and raise £100 for Brooke https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ebony-escalona-vet

Ebony on her ex-racer Francis Albert for Brooke's My Hackathon charity challenge- ride 100 miles in a 100 days and raise £100 for Brooke https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ebony-escalona-vet

Join me in raising awareness and support for the engines of the developing world http://bit.ly/VSGDcharity

And if you want to help me clock up some miles on horseback or with dogs in London then please drop me a line and we can chat careers over a ride or walk. James Greenwood: The Pottery Vet is joining me on 5th November.


For more on veterinary careers with Brooke

Check out RVN Kimberly Wells very inspiring TED-style talk from Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify LIVE and the charity, education and research stream that featured Brooke's Klara Saville, Laura Skippen and Polly Compston at www.vsgd.co as well as a interview with Shereene Williams acting senior vet in the global animal health team which can be found here http://bit.ly/ShereeneWilliamsBrooke Also check out the NGO panel in the video section of our FB group with Klara, Polly, Karen Reed and Ceci Gath all current or ex-employees of Brooke.

I would love to hear your top take aways from jobs you currently have or have had and we can collate career takeaways from the VSGD community!

With love

Ebony, founder of Vets Stay Go Diversify and Brooke, Action For Working Horses and Donkeys supporter for life :)