Andreia Dias and UK VetMoveIn support of the profession
Why UK VetMove?
Being a vet is challenging on its own, but when you want to be part of the profession in the UK and come from a different country, you will face challenges that you were not prepared to.
UK VetMove is the online place where you can find the tools and resources to help you overcome those challenges successfully, develop your career, achieve what you want and feel fulfilled when you do.
Created by Andreia, who is also a vet from overseas, our vision is that overseas vets succeed in their ordeal of becoming confident and competent veterinary surgeons.
In order to achieve this and be the number one resource for overseas vets, we create and share our knowledge by following a set of values:
We aim to continually improve and listen to feedback.
We respect everyone’s individuality without judgement.
We aim to do the right thing, not the easy thing, in order to bring you value.
We have a “win-win” perspective and value integration and team work.
The founder of UK VetMove
A story that could be yours.
Not long ago, I was standing where you are – I was about to leave my country after finishing my veterinary degree and start a big adventure. In my case, this adventure unfolded in Scotland.
In 2017, I started to work on this website. This website has a mission – to give those of you starting the adventure of creating a career in the UK all the tools you need to be successful and fulfilled.
So what’s my story?…
I graduated in December 2014 from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Technical University of Lisbon after presenting my Masters. I had done some undergraduate training in the UK for 4 months at the Weipers Centre Equine Hospital, Glasgow University. I had given a couple of subcutaneous and intramuscular injections to dogs, nothing to cats, never had placed an IV catheter, never done any surgery. I used to tell my university friends “you do that, I’ll be working with horses, not small animals”. Well. Keep reading… I learnt my lesson – Never say Never!
I moved to the Scotland right after my graduation. I had it easier than most. I didn’t come alone – that was one of the reasons I moved! When I moved, at the end of 2014, I already had a flat sorted. Phew!… So, roof over the head, how to find work? Well, first step was registering with the RCVS. Nightmare alert!!! It wasn’t all complicated, but it was all about paperwork and one end didn’t quite know what the other end needed!
It took me 3 months of waiting (which could have been a month if I knew how to do things), I had to travel down to Portugal on purpose to pick up documents that needed to be redone but I finally managed to register with the RCVS in April 2015. And it was just in time!
After 3 months of “waiting”, I was desperate for something! I had even started to look into part-time jobs at the city centre (because I couldn’t work as a vet!). I had also started to apply to vet practices nearby hoping to get “free training” before I was registered. That didn’t work very well!
What did work, however, was applying when I knew my RCVS registration date! I sent 3 CVs and cover letters. I got one reply. We chatted on the phone. We arranged an interview.
So here I go to this interview and meet a bunch of lovely people in the small town clinic… I got offered the position within days of my interview. I was so proud of myself! Why? Well, I had just gotten a job in mixed practice with not much to show on my CV!!! I didn’t know how to do surgery, I had never done any consults, no lambing, very little to do with farm animals… but you are exactly where you need to be. And I had applied for a job that no one else was wanting, I was a good fit for the team (young, happy, team!), I had “sold” the little I had done well and I was very willing to learn.
And… now that I was registered, had accommodation provided by the clinic, bank account, National Insurance, a car, a driving licence… I was ready to work. And scared as hell! I needed to
1) understand what the hell the clients were trying to say (I always tell the story of my first farm visit – I went with my boss, spent the time smiling and nodding and somehow ended up returning to the practice with a baby pygmy goat!)
2) learn how to treat pets effectively to see happy clients walk out of the door
3) learn how to do surgery
4) deal with emergencies!!!
Luckily, I was willing to learn and I had people willing to teach me. My vacancy replaced the senior vet that was going to retire. And he was my backup! 🙂 So I kept learning and learning and growing in confidence – and I’m still learning!
Going for the internship
After working for almost two years in mixed practice, I had seen the good, the bad and the ugly.
I started to feel worn off, tired and unfulfilled, working long hours due to the out-of-hours and on-call, feeling like I had little balance in my own personal life. I felt like something needed to change (I was already into this website thing!). It was also time to take a different approach to Veterinary Medicine. I was becoming more interested in “gold standard” procedures, in being able to do more, and I thought I would probably quite like to go down the route of specialisation – which would also be a plus if I ever returned home because not many people are European Diplomates!
I applied for a rotating internship at Glasgow University (‘Never say never’, remember?). So, again, I put my English to work, update my CV, get some references, write a well-thought cover letter, and soon enough I got called for an interview.
Now, I didn’t prepare too much because I knew I didn’t need the internship, but I would quite like it. And I tend to be quite chilled, so I just chatted away the best way I could with my three interviewers. I left feeling good about it, and sure enough, some days later I was offered the position!
Wow! Getting a rotating internship in a referral teaching institution with less than 2 years of practice really made me feel proud! And I also felt really humble when I started (because really, I felt like I knew nothing!). We were rotating through nine different services and I had the opportunity to do things I hadn’t done before (and finding more things I did and didn’t enjoy!).
When you don’t know what you want!!!
I started the internship after being off work from my first job for a couple of weeks. I started the internship on a very good note, with plenty of motivation, eager to see and do more and more. But I quickly realised that I didn’t want to do a residency or work on a referral level.
And there was still something “nagging” me. I know now that, at the time, I thought I wanted something, but failed to realise that I had just taken the “expected” path for my career. I enjoyed a lot of what I was doing, but I was not where I wanted to be. Neither personally nor professionally.
It wasn’t until I was really pushed for it that I realised the importance I give to family. Missing important events was harder and harder. Realising I wasn’t there to support them when they really needed was making my soul heavier. I was finding the thoughts of being away when health problems striked a burden impossible to bear.
So I had to stop and get my priorities right…
That’s when I took a very hard decision – I was going to return home before finishing the internship. I only did 6 months, rather than the full year. And so I did, and left the internship at the beginning of September 2017 to return home.
While I was in Portugal, I used the time to work on the website and be grateful for the time I had with my family. But I had made my decision permanent.
I later returned to Scotland for a brief period of time while I prepared my move back to Portugal. I got a bit more experience by doing some locums and found a great recurrent locum that allowed me to work just with cats. Flexible enough that I visit on purpose every month! I then permanently returned to Portugal in the beginning of the Summer of 2018 with 3 cats in the luggage.
I now divide my time between the job in Scotland, jobs in Portugal, BVA work, this website, my other personal silly adventures, three cats and one horse.
And I don’t regret anything.
Silly things about me
Horses are my true passion
In my heart, I’m a crazy horse lady. That’s how I ended up in vet school! One of the reasons I returned back home was because I decided that I was worth my dreams and I bought a colt. His name is Latino and he’s my beloved Lusitano baby! 🙂
Crazy cat lady alert!
As if it wasn’t enough being a crazy horse lady, I’m also a crazy cat lady. I thought I was a dog person until I got a cat on my 2nd year of vet school. I now have three cats, two of the Scottish – Skodi, Marco and Polo (you can guess which are the two Scottish ones, right?)
I also wanted to be a writer
I had a J. K. Rowling phase when I was on my early teens, but I still love writing and especially the process of creating. I love fantasy themes with lots of magic involved and have written a few (unpublished!) books.
I’m into art
Used to be, anyway. For the three years before University, I spent a lot of time creating fantasy-related art and coding simple web pages. My gallery can still be found online full of horses and other fantasy imagery! I even entertained myself coding a website on Wordpad (still like how it looks!).
I keep myself busy
I’m never short of ideas! On top of UK VetMove, I have had a blog in which I wrote my internship adventures, an online e-commerce store with horse-themed clothes, a web design business (that I still run) and a Portuguese website focusing on sharing useful and reliable information about feline behaviour. I also run feline behaviour consultations.
I’m into animal behaviour
I think it started with horse training and how they learn, but I also really like cat behaviour. I started to clicker-train my cats and have completed the ISFM Advanced Certificate in Feline Behaviour in 2018 with Distinction.