Emergency and Critical Care: should you make the move to out-of-hours?

Written by: Vets Now
Published on: 30 May 2019

Street at night

Image ©iStock.com/helenecanada

It isn’t surprising the number of emergency out-of-hours centres has increased in recent years – the public have become accustomed to being able to access whatever they want, whenever they want it.

Not only that, but pet owners have come to expect the same consistent level of service during the night they would expect during the day. As a result, more and more companies are offering dedicated OOH services.

If you have ever wondered if a move to OOH work would be the right decision for you, continue reading to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work out of hours...

Why should you make the move to the dark side?

Imagine a life with no more cat dentals, no more squeezing anal glands, no more itchy dogs and no more prescription food or flea and worming products – all these things are possible when you move to working for an OOH provider.

Working out of hours allows you to get back to the real reason you wanted to become a vet in the first place – to treat sick animals.

With OOH work you deal with true emergencies and get to see the difference your work makes to the pet and their owner.

Most OOH providers have their vets work on a sole charge basis, and often with full clinical freedom to make decisions about how best to manage their cases. Not only that, but out-of-hours work looks amazing on your CV – it shows your ability to think on your feet and that you’ve taken the initiative to hone your skills.

You can tailor your rota to suit your lifestyle – some companies offer a "7 days on, 7 days off" rota pattern and some offer more flexible ways of working. In addition, many companies offer part-time positions.

It is surprising how handy OOH work is for parents with young families or vets wishing to pursue travel, hobbies or even further study. You can achieve a great work/life balance thanks to flexible rotas.

"Will I still get the level of support I’m used to?"

A major worry for most people when it comes to working out of hours is the level of support they will have access to. However, most companies appreciate this as a major concern and offer guidance and support for their vets.

Here are just a few of the ways OOH providers can offer additional support:

  • Further training: some companies provide bespoke training to prepare you for working in an emergency out-of-hours environment.
  • On-call support: where you can telephone other vets within the company for a second opinion on tricky cases or difficult situations.
  • Access to specialist referrals: some companies provide hotlines for cases that you may not be prepared to deal with – exotics, for example.
  • Generous CPD allowances: to allow you to continue to develop 
  • Clinical governance: post your thoughts on cases and get feedback through moderated online forums.

These are just some of the ways providers will support you in making the transition from day practice to OOH to ensure you are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to prepare you for any case that might come through the door.

Still unsure?

If you think that out-of-hours work may be for you but you’re not quite ready to take the plunge – why not enquire with your local OOH provider about going in to see practice with them? That way you can get a feel for the types of cases you might expect to see, find out more about rotas and hear first-hand from the vets who currently work there.

Alternatively, you can read case studies by vets who have already made the move to working out of hours.

So, if OOH work sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, take a look at the vacancies available in emergency and critical care at the moment.