Interview

Veterinary Woman – Kay Watson-Bray

My career started in veterinary nursing then took a slightly different turn…

I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Norfolk and from a very young age, had no doubt that I wanted to work within the animal sector. When I left school I was fortunate to get a position as a veterinary nurse in a mixed practice in Norfolk. My role was varied and I could be out on farm assisting with lambing one minute, then answering the phone or dealing with clients and pets in the practice the next!

When it was time to move on I joined the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), initially as an administrator and worked my way up quickly to become PA to the Directors of Field Operations and Equine Rehabilitation at their Head Office in Norfolk. The organisation then offered me an exciting new opportunity to live and work in Cyprus where I was to spend two years as a consultant advisor for the ILPH working with the Cypriot Government to improve the standards of equine welfare. It was a challenging, but rewarding position where I acquired lots of new skills and gained a better understanding of governance and legislation.

From there, I moved back to UK and temped for a short while at the Equine Department of the Royal Veterinary College at Potters Bar. While working at the RVC I met a group of veterinarians who had just established Improve CPD (now Improve International) and they offered me a full-time position as Business Manager with the company. My role there involved the development of modular training courses for the veterinary profession across the UK and this proved to be invaluable experience for some of the projects I became involved with in subsequent years.

I’d now been working solidly for some time, so I took the big step of taking a sabbatical for a year and travelled to Australia. In Melbourne I met Equine Vet, Dr Helen Davies and was offered a seven month placement at the University of Melbourne’s Equine Clinical Research Unit in Werribee where I completed a research project investigating shin soreness of the third metacarpal bone in young Thoroughbred racehorses. At the end of my placement I wrote two papers on the third metacarpal bone length and skeletal asymmetry in the Thoroughbred racehorse, which were published in the Equine Veterinary Journal and the Australian Equine Veterinary Journal. This involvement with academia whetted my appetite for learning still further and I realised that it was an area for which I had a real passion.

On returning to the UK, I connected again with Professor Gary England – who I knew from Improve – and together we established the European School in Postgraduate Studies (ESVPS), a new accrediting and awarding body for the veterinary sector. In my twelve years as Director of ESVPS, we went from running examinations in just the UK to running exams across the world with over 3000 successful certificate holders and for a while I worked in Italy.

By now I had an extensive background in training and education in the veterinary sector and was keen to do even more. My colleague Samantha Lindley MRCVS and I decided to set up Longview CPD Ltd. Longview CPD provides high quality and unique training programmes for the veterinary profession. We have some well-established courses which include western veterinary acupuncture and animal behaviour. More recently, we launched our latest course on Confident Communications which aims to equip veterinary professionals (and others outside the profession) with the skills they need in business and practice and day to day communication with audiences and individuals.

But I was soon to add another role to my portfolio career. Early in 2017 I was at VPMA-SPVS congress when I met Dr Brian Faulkner MRCVS. Brian and I share a passion for training and education and Brian has his own training company, The Colourful Consultancy. We were chatting about our experiences of practice and realised we both felt there was a requirement for structured training for veterinary receptionists and a need to give front of house team members a voice within the profession.

We didn’t think anyone else was going to do it so we launched the British Veterinary Receptionist Association (BVRA) in October 2017 – the very first professional body for veterinary receptionists. Our mission is to recognise and raise the status of veterinary receptionists within the veterinary profession and I think we’ve made a really positive start. The response has been tremendous, with nearly 1300 members signed up in our first nine months.

I’m excited about the future and doing work that really matters to others, as well as offering me some new challenges. It would have been almost impossible to have planned my career path – it has emerged rather than been forced. I think that being open to new opportunities and connecting with people in a wide variety of settings has helped me arrive at this point and I’m excited about the future.

Visit the British Veterinary Receptionist Association at www.bvra.co.uk

And Longview CPD at http://www.longviewveterinaryservices.com