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10 Questions for Samantha Butler-Davies

Samantha is our new Veterinary Clinical Services Manager at Vets4Pets’ Support Office

Why did you want to become a veterinarian?

I come from the generation that was absolutely inspired by James Herriot. My dad sat me down in front of the original TV show, mainly to show me the Yorkshire Dales, but I was hooked. I was fascinated by a job that not only allowed me to treat animals but also meant I could help people at the same time. For many people, their pet is an integral part of their family. What we do, as vets, goes beyond just treating the animals…we support members of the community.

What was your journey to becoming a vet?

After I completed my GCSEs, I spent two years training to become a vet nurse, but I realised what I really wanted to do was veterinary medicine. I then had a bit of a transition period where I spent 12 years working for a pharmacy communications agency, but the desire to become a vet never left me. I then spent two years studying Animal Science at Dalhousie University in Canada before then being accepted into the veterinary school at Bristol University. I completed my degree in 2014.

This role lets me continue to use my clinical knowledge every day and combine it with my previous commercial experience. It’s been brilliant. I get to discuss things and share best practice with hundreds of vets across the Vets4Pets group. My vet family is now ginormous. Also, I’m now in an environment where I’m exposed to so many different departments and skills. I’m still very much a vet…I just wear a different badge.

 

What was your first vet job like?

I cut my teeth in veterinary medicine in a mixed practice in Dorset where I worked as a small animal vet. I loved my time there. The role enabled me to be part of the community, the clients were fantastic, and from a personal perspective, I learned so much clinically. I had some great mentors who were incredibly supportive and available. They were also excellent in their field, and there was a fantastic team environment within the practice. We were more like family than colleagues.  

After my time in Dorset, I moved to Wiltshire and took on a role as a feline-focused vet in a large small-animal hospital.

What attracted you to your role at Vets4Pets?

I loved being in clinical practice, but I wanted to explore what else I could do with my degree and the skillset I picked up in practice. Moving into the support office for Vets4Pets seemed like a natural progression for me.

This role lets me continue to use my clinical knowledge every day and combine it with my previous commercial experience. It’s been brilliant. I get to discuss things and share best practice with hundreds of vets across the Vets4Pets group. My vet family is now ginormous. Also, I’m now in an environment where I’m exposed to so many different departments and skills. I’m still very much a vet…I just wear a different badge.

Also, there are dogs in the Vets4Pets Support office every day so I still get animal contact, and I still get to see people’s pets.

A veterinary science degree — and the work vets do in practice — gives vets such a broad range of skills they probably don’t realise they have. Things like communication, negotiation and influencing and multi-taking. This is huge, and these skills are massively applicable to many, many different types of roles inside and outside of the veterinary world. A veterinary science degree is one of the most versatile degrees.

Since joining Vets4Pets, what has surprised you the most?

Well, I can tell you what hasn't surprised me. Having spent time with Vets4Pets first-opinion practices, I’m so impressed with the depth of knowledge and skills the veterinary teams have and in fact, how advanced some of them are. Further, all of our vet teams are willing to share their experiences and knowledge across the whole group.

Also, everyone has been just so welcoming. I’ve been aware of Vets4pets since I graduated. I remember visiting the Vets4Pets stand at the BSAVA Congress whilst still a student, and everyone was so welcoming. That left a really positive impression on me, and this has been completely mirrored since starting my role. 

What does your role as a Clinical Services Manager involve?  

My role is very broad. I liaise with all departments within the Vets4Pets Support Office from marketing to legal and much, much more. My role requires me to draw on clinical knowledge and my previous commercial experience.

There’s daily interactions with the commercial team regarding clinical decisions, and most recently, we worked closely together on a product tender – which I will be presenting the clinical outcomes of to our Joint Venture Council.

I’m also part of our Clinical Advisory Board (CAB), which is made up of colleagues from practices and the clinical team here in the Support Office. We review new initiatives, discuss in-practice requirements and gather feedback from our partners. The CAB is such an integral part of our partnership with practices, and its input is invaluable for us.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Well, there is no such thing as a typical day for me. I’m heavily involved in helping practices go through the Practice Standards Scheme via the Royal College. I help our marketing team with materials. I create a “Clinical Notes” publication for our practices, which focuses on CPD, sharing of best practice and guidelines. I work with our commercial team in regards to new products. I can honestly say that on most days I will speak with someone from every department in the Support Office as well as colleagues out in practice. I also go to industry meetings, events, conferences, exhibitions. Although I’ve only been here for six months, my role has already evolved and in a positive way. My interest is constantly kept.

What’s your favourite animal?

Cats. They are awesome! I love their independent nature. I have a cat named Jonathan Percy. His picture is even on the back of my business card.

What’s your favourite food?

Spaghetti

What’s your favourite city?

Boston, Massachusetts

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