Alex’s career takes off at a gallop

Alex’s career takes off at a gallop

NEW equine vet Alex Harper is getting a huge kick out of her career – thanks to the VetPartners Equine Graduate Programme.

 Our graduate programme gives newly qualified vets the best possible introduction to their career as it is the perfect bridge between university and practice life.

 Here, Alex, assistant equine vet at Mayes & Scrine Equine Vets in Sussex, reveals how being part of the programme has helped her career development….


Why did you decide to do the VetPartners Equine Graduate Programme?

The VetPartners Equine Graduate Programme appealed to me as it involves lots of introductory skill-based sessions designed to prepare you for your first few months in practice. I found these really helpful for starting my practice role and they were a great refresher of some of the knowledge I learnt at university.

The Covid pandemic also had a huge impact on the final year of my degree, which meant that there was limited opportunity for me to do any practical work experience at practices as a student. However, through the graduate programme, I was able to develop practical skills in areas that I had studied and observed as a student but hadn’t has the opportunity to perform them myself such as gastroscopes and reproductive scanning. Having the opportunity to develop these skills felt like a beneficial start to my career in practice and made me feel more confident in the first few months of my role.


Does having the opportunity to meet other graduates and having a network around you help you feel supported?

There was a new graduate week at the start of the programme, held at the Liphook Equine Hospital which was a brilliant opportunity to meet other new graduates who were in a similar position to myself, I’ve stayed in touch with a few of them throughout the past year.

The equine week was packed full of practical sessions and lectures, and we all had plenty of time to chat to each other and share how our first few weeks in practice had been which I found really reassuring as it reminded us that we’re all learning and bound to make some mistakes along the way. During the equine week, there was lots of opportunity to socialise with events organised for us, such as a pizza night, bowling and a trip to a local pub.

There was also experienced and specialist vets teaching at the event which made for lots of useful networking opportunities. It was great to discuss the different career paths they had taken, and it gave me an idea of the different options and opportunities available to me in the future such as completing further certificates in advanced veterinary practice and surgical residences.


How much support do you receive on the VetPartners Graduate Programme?

There was an abundance of support throughout the programme, especially from the specialists running the various CPD events and from my assigned graduate development mentor Debbie Jackson who is a vet at Mayes & Scrine, who was available every day to discuss cases or even just to have a chat if I was having a bad day.

Everyone I work with at Mayes & Scrine have also been wonderful and really supportive of me from day one, ensuring I feel comfortable to ask for advice whenever I need it.

I am also still in contact today with some of the medical and surgical specialists that I met during the programme, who are more than happy to give me advice on cases over the phone during my daily work.


What was the learning experience like on the VetPartners Equine Graduate Programme?

Just after I started my role at Mayes & Scrine, the programme began with the new graduate week, which was a residential week I attended with around 20 other newly qualified equine vets. Specialists from VetPartners shared their knowledge in various sessions on topics, such as emergencies, lameness and foaling, which was a great refresher of knowledge and skills after taking a break in the summer months since finishing my studies.

I found the week very useful in preparing me for typical call outs we were likely to experience in the first few months of practice, and I found the lameness and practical sessions on nerve/joint blocking especially useful as I progressed throughout my first year in practice. There was also lots of different CPD events, which were both online and in-person throughout the year and each event was focused on a key skill, for example there was a gastroscope day and a castration day, which meant that by the end of each CPD event, I felt confident performing these skills by myself in the field.  I feel like all the CPD events on the programme genuinely boosted my confidence in my new role as an assistant equine vet.


How are you finding life as a vet as a result of completing the programme?

Overall, I am really enjoying life as an ambulatory equine vet. The work is hard but very rewarding. I definitely felt the new graduate week helped prepare me for my first few months in practice and the various online and in person events spread throughout the year were particularly helpful for my continued development.

My confidence has grown immensely over the past year. There is a huge amount of learning still to be done, however, I certainly now feel equipped in my role as an ambulatory equine vet and can attend the majority of calls with limited to no guidance.


Would you recommend the VetPartners Equine Graduate Programme to others?

100%! I would absolutely recommend it to others, especially those wishing to go into large animal ambulatory work straight after university as the quality of CPD sessions and the support available throughout the graduate programme has been an invaluable start to getting my career off to the best possible start.


 Alex graduated from the University of Bristol in 2022 where she studied Veterinary Science before joining the team at Mayes & Scrine in September 2022. She took part in the VetPartners Equine Graduate Programme during her first year with the practice and is now thriving as a full time assistant equine vet.

VetPartners has four graduate programmes – small animal, equine, farm and mixed practice which are all designed to build on the knowledge and skills learnt at university and to equip newly qualified vets with the necessary skills and confidence to thrive in their first practice role.


Are you interested in taking part in one of the VetPartners Graduate Programmes in 2024?

Details of the all of our graduate programmes and how to register can be found here:

Or, if you fancy an informal chat about the programmes, email who will be more than happy to hear from you.


Article written by Rachel Neill, VetPartners PR & Communications Executive.