August 10, 2018, by Naomi Imms
10,000 miles from Nottingham: Caring for animals in the outback
By Elizabeth Cresswell, PGCert Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, graduated 2016
I always had the idea that I might like to work abroad for a period of time, and didn’t want to settle down into a job in UK before giving it a go.
After graduating, it was a ‘now or never’ situation!
I had visited Australia before and loved it, plus there was the pull of the beaches and sunshine… I also wanted to go somewhere where I could use the skills that I had learnt in my degree, and develop those to (hopefully) become a better vet.
So, after finishing my postgraduate qualification in veterinary medicine and surgery and completing an internship in farm animal practice, I took the plunge and took up a role with Kyabram Veterinary Clinic in Victoria, Australia.
Finding the right role
I applied for a couple of jobs through an online recruitment agency (there are a few around but I used Kookaburra and Vetlink). I was looking more for the type of work than a particular geographical area, and had a couple of job offers. Kyabram stood out as a larger clinic with a reputation for being sociable and friendly. This was important for me moving to a small rural town where I knew nobody, and made settling in very easy.
Getting the job
I had interviews over the phone – this was fine, but finding the right time for both parties with the 9-hour time difference was more of a challenge! For UK-qualified vets, veterinary registration is easy. You just have to get a letter of good standing from the RCVS and send it to your state registration board with a couple of other documents.
Visas can be more time-consuming so it is better to look at these well in advance, and get advice from a solicitor if needed. I found it much easier to get a visa because I had a clinic who was willing to sponsor me. This is definitely something worth asking about when applying for jobs.
Navigating a new work environment
Some of the rules and regulations for vets are a bit different in Australia, so I read the guidelines produced by the registration board and Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) beforehand. There are also some differences in the farming systems and treatment approaches to cases. Having a supportive working environment was really helpful, as my colleagues were very patient with my endless questions and comparisons to UK systems!
In fact, I found both colleagues and clients in Australia very friendly and welcoming. They were interested in having a new face with a new accent on the team which made the transition much easier! It was also helpful to chat to vets who had previously made the move from the UK to Australia.
Highlights of working in Australia?
The sunshine! I have loved living in a place which is totally different to where I grew up, and immersing myself into local life. You quickly feel much more a part of the community when you are living off the tourist track.
I have met fantastic people who have had a totally different upbringing to me – take my colleague who grew up fishing on the reef and dodging crocs in Queensland! We have ended up sharing experiences in the same little rural town.
Life is a different pace over here, and I love being able to explore the outdoors much more easily. Most weekends I can be found camping, horse riding through the bush or kayaking in local rivers or lakes. It’s just the norm, and refreshing that everybody is so laidback.
My advice to others thinking of working abroad
My advice is: do it!! Living and working in rural Australia has definitely given me experiences that I would never have had in the UK, both personally and professionally.
You will always be able to find reasons to not do it, and it can be daunting. However, the likelihood is that you will have an amazing experience, meet lifelong friends and come back a more rounded person (or stay!)
As with most things, you will get out of it what you put in. Do your research, talk to people who have done it before, and go for it!
Thinking of working abroad? Find further advice and sources of job vacancies on our working abroad pages. If you’d like help with turning your plans into a reality, make an appointment to speak to us.