It certainly has been strange times for us all with the pandemic and 3 lockdowns. It has been hard for the veterinary industry in many ways, with many practices struggling with absent staff members and with keeping their clients outside their doors, in car parks and on pavements, to enable them to practice safely and efficiently.
A1 Locums started off working from home, which worked OK but we all soon missed the camaraderie and gradually we moved back onto the farm, to continue our daily support to the industry. During the first lockdown we fought hard to support the practices and keep our candidates informed of what was happening in the marketplace. It was certainly a guessing game for us all.
A1 Locums put together a weekly newsletter communicating to the team working remotely from home, on how we were all doing, sharing what we were growing in the garden, or our weekly lockdown recipes, sharing new ideas and praising staff with reward vouchers for work achievements. We kept smiling and kept going while Brexit happened and IR35 took hold of the industry. Now we want to come out and shout from the rooftops that we are still here and still supporting our wonderful clients, and catch up on the stories from our friends, both locums and clients alike, and rejoice that our industry is making every effort to bounce back and look to the future.
We look forward to welcoming you all with open arms on Stand B22 and a chance to reassure that after 17 years in the industry we have your interests at heart in finding you new beginnings or an opportunity to earn extra money.
Meet Guido Bertoldi, Italian born, who arrived from Argentina to start a new life in London as a VCA.
Thank you, Guido, for sharing your experiences.
What did you look forward to most, when moving to England?
My main goal is to become a Veterinary Neurosurgeon; however, I can’t deny that I really look forward to meeting people, learning from them, meeting other cultures, music, foods, travel around Europe/Asia/Africa and different ways of seeing life. I am really excited about that, although COVID has other plans (for now).
Is there any advice you would give to other vets in your position before moving over that you wished you knew before?
It is a broad question, as it depends on every vet’s particular situation and goals. In my case I thought I was going to have more time to study as I have to sit for the MRCVS exam… living in London, in particular, is expensive and we need to work 40hs/week in order to “survive”. So, my advice would be, if you have to sit for the same exam, study as much as you can before coming and also choose a place to live that can allow you to save as much as you can. If you are already a Vet qualified to practice in the UK that’s awesome, enjoy!
Was/is there any addition paperwork you needed when moving to London?
Yes, I had some troubles to acquire a proof of address as newly arrived i didn’t have National Insurance Number, hence couldn´t have any services from my household on my name. So, I used a General Practitioner’s (human doctor) letter to get proof of address and then was able to use that in banks and also to finish my MRCVS exam forms.
I had to do the Pre-settle status and also the National Insurance Number.
In regard to my university qualifications, I brought my degree translated and certified by the Haya postille and before sending all the needed documents to the RCVS I had to do an Affidavit in order to state that Proof of Good Standing Practice.
Have there been any restrictions you have faced while moving here?
Fortunately, not, I arrived and asked for the pre-settled status and it was granted to me without problems at all. Unfortunately, things are changing everyday with the Coronavirus restrictions.
What has been the best part of your placement since starting in London?
To be completely honest, I still find it very difficult to feel as if I were in London, as I cannot go to a bar, or the theatre, etc. The best part since I’ve arrived, has been the kind and generous people and co-workers I have met, who, have made so much easier, the homesickness “coin face” of this journey.
Have you got any advice to anyone looking to sit the RCVS exam upon arrival?
It is very difficult to give precise advice, because of the interpersonal differences, but what I have learnt so far:
Good, solid anatomy/physiology bases are essential in order not to lose time with those when going through so much material.
Endurance – work every day even if it is 1hour or 30minutes and study something new.
Listen to the RVC podcasts! they are awesome for tube/bike (not recommended he he!) time .
Try to find what kind of information they will probably ask of us in the exam, so far, I’ve been focusing on clinical scenarios, differential diagnosis and most common treatments.
Go and see General Practitioners work in the UK! It’s is very different compared to they way we work in Argentina.
I think the most challenging part of the exam is the amount of information you have to cope with and memorise and retain for long periods before sitting the exam. I had to change the way I studied because of this, so a particular piece of advice (that I think is helping me) regarding study techniques: active recall (make yourself questions when studying and try to answer them instead of just reading the book) and spatial repetition (judge yourself on how good your answers are and go back again to those topics to help memory)
How did you find working with A1 Locums?
To be 100% honest, to arriving in London, finish my 14 days of isolation and have a job waiting there for me… was without doubt, one of the most important things that helped me to be safe and be able to focus on my studying. This unique scenario of being 11.000km away from London and being able to get a job interview… I would have found that impossible in other times. I am so thankful I met Sophie; I am sure that things would have been so much harder, if I hadn’t met her.
Christmas time is always a difficult time for so many and especially this year with COVID 19 and the various lockdowns, it has been very hard for everyone come to terms with what is expected of them. We have all learnt to adapt, for some this has been more difficult than for others and now thrown into the mix is Christmas, which does not always bring joy and happiness. Its only a day, but for many the long shutdown of businesses and interaction will be difficult.
At A1 Locums we have been fortunate enough to trade through this year, it has certainly delivered it challenges for the veterinary industry, with initial grants not been available, practices not allowed to invite clients in to the practices, causing stress to owners and pets and then practices working long hours and needing coverage, but not sure about letting locums into the practices to share bubbles.
Over the last few years instead of sending cards to our candidates and practices, we have sent donations to 2 or 3 different charities. This year we decided it would be nice for each one of our staff to pick a charity they would like to support for their own personal reasons and each person has placed their charity tag on our tree.
The charities we are supporting are varied, from rescuing dogs in Romania, to supporting Veterinary staff, caring for animals on the streets, to saving orphaned wild animals. We have also supported Mental health in all age groups, CALM, (Campaign against living miserably) and supporting people and research with Parkinson’s
We hope that our donations will make a difference and help people in these difficult times.
From all at A1 Locums, a Very Merry Christmas and hope that 2021 will be a brighter year for all of us, both in our health, well-being and in our businesses.
Clare Alderton, Managing Director of A1 Locums said “Sadly, we lost one of our own guinea pigs, Barry this year, and felt we had to find Bob some company, so after another trip to see B.A.R.K.S. Banbury, we came home with Panda and Bear!
“Our team of three guineas live in the centre of our office, in their pen, as happy as Larry. Bob loves his girls and is always ready for his snack pot each morning. He is always very busy, following and protecting them. They love a box, any box, which we cut holes in, make tunnels, turn them upside down, anywhere they can hide. In summer, they are out on the office lawn in their summer housing, eating the fresh grass and taking in the countryside.”
About the charity
B.A.R.K.S. is a small independent charity which is self-funding and relies upon its volunteers. They have several projects on the go at present for their feline friends; one is to re-floor the cat enclosure which is cracked and damaged. They are also looking for support with veterinary bills, which even for the small furries can be very expensive. Average veterinary bills are £3,000 to £4,000 per month. It is vital in today’s world that we can help keep these small specialist charities going as they don’t very often get the national funding that others get.
As our project for 2019, A1 Locums have donated £500 to extend a pen for a permanent resident cat called Fluff. Due to health reasons, she cannot really live inside a house, and needs more space in her current enclosure. The work is urgent as we can see that Fluff needs things to climb on and some variety in her little life. Hopefully this donation will enable B.A.R.K.S to start the project in early 2020. We look forward to catching up and seeing the progress.