“My Real Life Journey”
This week we meet with Sara Gouveia, who came from Portugal to start a career in mixed practice in the UK and is also starting out her own website with her experiences in clinical practice.
Looking for career satisfaction
Sara is a Portuguese vet that has moved to the UK in August 2018. She has worked in small animal general practice in Portugal and then started a role as a mixed vet in the UK. She also runs her own website at petsolving.com
Where and when did you graduate?
I graduated in UTAD, Vila Real in 2016.
What made you search for different opportunities in a different country?
I needed a change in my life and a job that would provide me a more flexible schedule and the opportunity to pursuit my passion to work with horses.
Why did you choose to move to the UK?
I was previously trying to go to Spain and do an equine internship in Barcelona. In the process of getting all the documentation ready and the spanish exam that was requested of me, a UK vet recruiter contacted me asking if I’d be interested to work in the Uk. I wanted this since I began my studies as a vet, and tried a few times to schedule practices but never got the opportunity. When the chance of moving to the UK came up, I put aside going to Barcelona and embraced this new chapter in my life. It was perfect timing because I was unhappy on my previous job, and the thought of becoming an equine vet, earning more and get to know new places seemed exactly what I was looking for.
What was most challenging about your move?
I would say dealing with insurance claims, veterinary regulations, and isolation. The first one because it was still a recent concept in Portugal when I left, so I did not get the chance to deal with insurance claims back then. UK regulations are taken more seriously and protocols are important to respect, especially with competing horses. When moving to a new country by yourself we try to lean on your colleagues and avoid loneliness. Some of them will be willing to help you through your moving and spend some time with you outside work, but it’s very easy to isolate ourselves. And so the mindset of doing things by ourselves is paramount: carrying on with your hobbies or discover new interests. Make some new friends on the way of discovering new places. This can be achieved with couch surfing, meeting apps, or by simply pursuing a hobby that you enjoy and provides the chance of meeting new people.
How easy was it for you to find your first job? Did you get the job you wanted?
I’m from the countryside of Portugal and since most graduates prefer to jump into more developed cities and referring clinics and hospitals, it was fairly easy for me to find a job in a local practice near home. Although, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. As a graduate, I believe, we are more prone to submit to almost any job because we still don’t have a clear idea of what we want in our professional and personal lives. Also, after 6 years studying, what we truly want is to put hands on and earn money. Hahaha
How did your career evolve once you were in the UK?
I’ve been in the UK not yet for a very long time. But in the almost 8 months spent, I have been able to expand my experience in both equine and small animal practice, and build my blog (petsolving.com) about my experience since I begin practicing as a vet, that I think most veterinarians go through.
What are your future plans?
I intend to become a full time equine vet and that my blog is able to reach and help as many professionals as possible.
What part do you think your move to the UK has played in your life and career?
It was definitely a game change. I’ve been meeting amazing people along the way and my mindset shifted completely by some struggles that I encountered. It has also been a really good experience at this job in particular, because everyone is very supportive and that alone made a huge difference about the overwhelming feeling we often suffer when moving to a new country.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to create a career in the Veterinary field in the UK?
No matter if you’re a recent graduate or someone with a lot of experience, it is very important not to undervalue ourselves. It is challenging to move to a new country where we know little or nothing about, and it will be overwhelming at the beginning, especially if your job does not include accommodation and/or company car. But it takes real courage to adventure ourselves into the unknown and adapt. My advice is to get clear of the job role you are going to perform and what exactly does it include, so you can do some research before moving. If you are reading this, you have found a really good starting place to look for guidance before moving to the UK ☺ As I mentioned before, isolation is the worst thing we can do in a new place. I recommend to try and go home only for sleep.