We look back on a fantastic couple of days at the annual VET Festival event which took place on 8 and 9 June 2018.
Anyone who exhibits at an event knows it takes months of planning and weeks of anticipation before you even arrive at the venue.
In the run-up top the event we hosted a facebook competition to give away free tickets to the event, and were delighted with the response. At VET Festival we organised a free prize draw to give away a ‘cat’ hamper and ‘dog hamper’ to two lucky winners who registered with us.
Having launched our new A1 Locums App earlier this year, we also offered a free reusable coffee cup to any stand visitors who showed us the app on their phones!
We asked Sophie Vickers, Senior Recruitment Consultant at A1 Locums for her impressions of this year’s VET Festival.
“Vet Festival is one of our favourite conferences. Relaxing atmosphere, great CPD and fantastic company along with a side of live music and a glass of bubbly. We met a lot of clients who have gone on to pastures new, clients we have been working with for years and the future generations studying at university.
“The industry is fast paced and still growing, attracting speakers from all over the world.. Our little Wilbur met all the nurses that looked after him at Fitzpatricks. He greeted every one with a wag and a cuddle, and was most definitely the star of the show!
Sadly, it’s time to pack away the marquees and bales of hay for another year, but we will be back for 2019 on stand ST35a .. come and meet us there.
When our REC Compliance Test certificate dropped through our letterbox, it was real cause for celebration at A1 Locums. Why, you may ask, is this recognition such a big deal?
When you’ve been running a veterinary recruitment company for almost 20 years and have seen the industry change massively over time, it’s a proud moment to know you are riding the crest of the wave; you are right there where all the action is; you are neck and neck with the front runners in recruitment.
Having achieved 97% in the Test is a firm acknowledgement that your company demonstrates an understanding of the REC’s Code of Professional Practice. It’s a significant statement that says A1 Locums really does meet the requirements for the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations. This ethos is embedded in the way we do business.
I’m thinking back to how we operated when I started in recruitment: telephone calls, personal meetings, faxes and posted letters were the order of the day. Social media was not even a twinkle in the eye of the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. Compared to how candidates searched for jobs way back then – today, with the swipe of an app or a quick search phrase, candidate and employer can be linked in a flash, without a human conversation necessarily having taken place. Communication is fully mobile and instantly accessible anywhere, any time of day.
But what lies behind the achievement of this certificate? Let me take you on a trip to a picturesque setting, to a farm in the Northamptonshire countryside, to a barn nestling among stables, sweeping fields and ancient woodlands; the offices and people that make up A1 Locums. We are not only veterinary recruiters; we also truly adore animals! Ring the doorbell and Wilbur the dog and TC the cat will be the first to investigate your arrival. Step inside and it’s a hive of friendly activity, where we do what we do best; matching top candidates to the best veterinary jobs.
The REC has established that we have the tools needed to be a compliant and efficient recruitment business, but more importantly, we have people you can pick up the phone to, people who are not hidden behind faceless digital platforms, but real people who are interested in your next move as a locum vet or nurse. I am proud to say that my team is immensely dedicated; they’re professional, skilled and experienced. We are fortunate enough to have built up great relationships with practices around the country over the years, and those practices know that at the drop of the proverbial hat, they can call us to find them a suitable candidate. Candidates, in turn, have come to trust that we will match them to the right practice and keep them informed about the latest locum jobs.
Attaining REC membership means being among the best in recruitment. So yes, this certificate is rather a big deal. – Clare, Managing Director
We caught up with Sophie Vickers, one of our recruitment consultants who has just completed her Level 2 – Certificate in Recruitment Resourcing through the Institute of Recruiters.
Q: Sophie, tell us how you came to be in veterinary recruitment. A: My journey in the veterinary industry started when I joined A1 Locums back in November 2015. I was fresh off the plane with a glowing tan from three months travelling and volunteering in Africa. I had spoken to Anna and Clare before I left and was keen to come back and work with A1 Locums – really to meet Wilbur the puppy again (can you blame me?).
I came into this job with a university degree in Business and Management and a 7-year stint in customer service. I chose the path of Business at university, but I have always had an interest in the animal kingdom. I enjoy breaks and that’s where I get my safari fix – by going to various reserves in Africa to help protect and educate people on endangered species.
Q: What’s it like to work in recruitment? A: I found it strange to go from seeing people every day to only talking to them on email or the phone, but I have made some great connections during my time at A1 Locums.
Q: What prompted you to study further? A: I loved university and was intrigued to learn something new and apply it to this industry, which gave me a craving to study again. I have learnt so much and applied the knowledge to my everyday job; from how I approach people, to advertising a job to filling a position. The one defining factor is that I want to help people and animals. I can’t directly help animals in this profession, but I can help the people that look after your little fur babies and that’s why I want to get better at this job, to make a difference.
Q: Working and studying! How did you fit it all in?
A: Juggling work and studying was a big shock to the system again after 3 years post university. I was forever late to coaching (Netball), leaving a trail of paper behind me. The whole independent learning is something I love and could get used to. I have swapped the travel brochures for text books again, which will thrill my manager, Clare no end!
I keep having to remind myself why I started, and now I have that very same conversation with clients and candidates too. I even ask practices what made them start out, why they became vets or why they created a specific business model for their clinic.
Q: How have you been able to apply your studies in your day to day job? A: The unit that made a big impact was the Building and Maintaining of Relationships with Candidates; how we can create and maintain loyalty. This has really helped me with looking after both clients and candidates and going that extra mile. I have been able to help prior to interviews, filling the gap with missing information on a role and making sure they are looked after in the best possible way. The research element has also made me aware of what is current and changing within the industry. What is happening with competitors and the factors affecting our industry with the looming Brexit being top of the agenda!
My first assignment was based on the recruitment industry facts and figures. Unit 4 was understanding the selection process, helping me to prepare both candidates and clients. As soon as someone phones me, on their knees, needing a vet, I try to do whatever I can to get them some help. Or that candidate looking for a dream job – I will always do my best to find out what motivates them. They didn’t study for all those years at university to be average. They studied to be awesome and to make a difference.
Q: What are some of the best moments you have had in the recruitment industry? A: Compared to my friends, I think I am in a very fun and different industry, and often get asked ‘What is the best placement you have every filled or the strangest Vet request?’ Hands down, I remember it so well, mainly because I was very jealous. It was in August 2016 and I had a lovely equine retreat in Mustique that needed a vet to sail for 12 days from Portsmouth to Mustique to accompany 2 ponies to their new home. The stop-offs were St Lucia and The Grenadines! I asked my vet to send me photos, but I regretted that very swiftly. As a thank you they sent said vet to a lovely pool party overlooking the beach and the food looked amazing! There could be a lot worse places in the world to spend 14 days. The beaches were white, cocktails were flowing, and the sunsets were something to dream of.
Q: What’s the best part of working at A1 Locums? A: The difference between us here at A1 Locums versus other recruitment companies is the view! We are very lucky to be where we are; it’s a positive environment and we always try to convey that over the phone by answering with a smile; being the agency with the friendly touch.
Launch of new A1 Locums app for veterinary professionals
Our new app will speed recruiting process for locums
A1 Locums has released a new app to make the lives of busy veterinary professionals simpler, by enabling registered locums to get in touch easier at the swipe of a screen. By using the new app, they will be able to contact A1 Locums quickly to let them know their current availability, apply for a job on the go, or make contact via WhatsApp. The new A1 Locums app is now available for download.
Registered locums will be sent the link to download this free app straightaway, enabling them to be in touch immediately with the recruiters at A1 Locums. The candidates can be set up to receive only certain emails via push groups – relevant to the type of work they are looking for, areas or the companies they like to work with.
Managing Director Clare Alderton said “Owing to the nature of the locum placement process, speed is often of the essence when filling a position. In developing the app, we wanted a straightforward and uncomplicated platform to help make the lives of the veterinary professionals we deal with lot easier and save them time.”
If veterinary professionals are not registered with A1 Locums and are interested in the app, they can register here before downloading it.
For candidates already registered with A1 Locums, here are the links to download the app:
One of our locum vets, Helen Brown, has recently returned from Bosnia, volunteering at the Nirina Dog Shelter. Helen gives an amazing encounter in the blog of what it was like. A1 locums will be supporting the charity be sending a donation instead of Christmas cards this year.
A1 Locums are up for an award today at the London Vet Show.
In the recent Veterinary Trust Awards (in association with Vet Dynamics and The Webinar Vet), A1 Locums were not only nominated for the Most Trusted Recruitment Company, but have been shortlisted for the top three!
The winner will be revealed at a hosted ‘Pizza and Prosecco’ evening at The Hotel Ibis, London Excel Docklands, after the London Vet Show. Fingers crossed we will win!
We are pleased to announce that Lauren Clark is our Harper Adam’s University Graduate of the Year.
A1 Locums has over the last 5 years sponsored an award for the best overall student on BSc Veterinary Nursing and Practice Management course and has supported the Careers Fairs and lecture sessions, with training on ‘How to be a successful Locum’.
We have asked Lauren to summarise about her time at Harper Adams University.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Harper and loved every aspect of the course. The knowledge I gained through a mixture of formal lectures, practical sessions and tutorials along with the excellent facilities and supportive, knowledgeable teaching staff fully prepared me for a career as a veterinary nurse. I found the course very interesting; covering a variety of subjects from physiology, medical nursing and advanced nursing to more specialised topics such as physical therapies, equine nursing and practice management. Small animal nutrition is a particular interest of mine, which was the main focus for my final year dissertation. I investigated the use of nutritional assessments and feeding plans in hospitalised cats and found that the use of such assessments were effective at preventing weight loss in cats during hospitalisation. My findings emphasise the importance of nutrition in ill and injured animals as an aspect of improving patient care and is something I have managed to integrate into my current practice.
I am currently working as a registered veterinary nurse at a busy first opinion small animal practice in Buckinghamshire where I completed my year-long placement as part of my course. Here I undertake many roles of a veterinary nurse including anaesthesia monitoring, medical nursing and inpatient care, laboratory work and nurse consultations. I really enjoy the variety the job brings, however I would like to undertake further study in a more specialised area such as small animal nutrition or surgical nursing. In the future I would love to take my nursing skills abroad and volunteer or work as veterinary nurse in places such as Africa, Australia or New Zealand and expand my skills even further.
I am thrilled to be the recipient of the A1 Locums award; the course has been very challenging for me both practically and academically and I feel proud of my achievements. I am excited to see what the future holds for me as a veterinary nurse and I feel honoured to be a part of this growing profession.
Historically, Veterinary Surgeons have been in short supply in the UK. As a result these roles have long been on the ‘shortage occupation’ list, allowing qualified professionals from outside the European Union to gain entry visas to the UK to fulfill vacancies in these roles.
Then, in October 2011 the UK government accepted a proposal from the independent Migration Advisory Commission to remove several professions (including Veterinary Surgeons) from the ‘shortage occupation’ list; Visa applications were no longer granted on the basis of veterinary qualifications.
The result has been to reduce the number of veterinary professionals from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa entering the UK. Traditionally the influx of staff from the southern hemisphere has boosted the locum sector of the industry and proven to be an invaluable resource for surgeries, particularly during the summer months. With the changes in visa regulations, suddenly a key staffing resource dried up, leaving surgeries desperately hunting for alternative solutions. Whilst the opportunity is now wide open to EU counterparts to fill positions in the UK, that doesn’t seem to have happened, leaving a big gap in the locum market.
In addition to man-hours and working practice flexibility, the presence of visiting professionals brought wide-ranging experience including farm and large animal knowledge.
Recently an article in the Daily Mail highlighted growing concerns over a shortage of British veterinary staff qualified in the area of farm animal medicine. The fear is that a lack of suitably experienced professionals will leave the UK paralysed in the event of another major disease outbreak. Additionally, proposed epidemic and disease prevention plans designed around animal welfare strategy will be difficult to implement. Such plans will inevitably be labour intensive, requiring additional qualified professionals to oversee and monitor them. Previously there would have been a ‘top-up’ pool of non-EU veterinary professionals to call on.
It isn’t only the large animal community feeling the pinch. Many practices have reported experiencing issues finding their own locum cover for their busy periods and during the summer months when holiday cover is required. Surgeries are finding their qualified staff has a higher expectation of work/life balance, with lighter out of hour’s schedules. As such, the demand for locums is growing and will continue to do so over the coming years.
Undoubtedly the idea behind the removal of Veterinary Surgeons from the ‘shortage occupation’ list was a noble act designed to reserve opportunity for homegrown talent. However, the knock-on effect has been to place increased pressure on a significant portion of the animal care community. With social and government focus being increasingly centered around the need for a higher degree of animal care, perhaps now is an excellent opportunity for the ‘shortage list’ to be reviewed once more.
Laura joined A1 Locums in December 2016, initially working with our administration team. Laura joins the team after working in Cyprus with Tui Travel. She enjoys the challenge of placing applicants as well as talking to the practices. She is passionate about people, remaining professional at all times.
Laura is very family orientated and is married to Raalf and a mother to Jaad, aged 2. She has three cats, Daisy, Jessie and Snookie, who travelled all the way back from Cyprus on a flight to Paris and then on a Eurostar to London. They are now well and safe and enjoying the English countryside.
We are pleased to welcome Laura into fold and her new position as a trainee recruiter for the nurses department working with Anne Mcmanus.
Clemency joined us in November 2016, having studied at Oxford Media & Business School, where she took an Executive PA Diploma. Part of her work experience was working in London with Tiger Recruitment, recruiting PA and administrators. As a result of this, Clemency has now decided to follow her career aspirations with A1 Locums.
In her leisure time she enjoys eventing, walking the dogs and continuing to practice in Sports Therapy. In 2015, Clemency did a week’s work placement at Hartbury University on the equine Therapy yard, which engaged her knowledge of sports therapy and allowed her to apply this to horses. She also loves Rugby and cooking for dinner parties
Clemency joins Clare and Sophie in the Vet Department.