Carla qualified in 2001 as a veterinary nurse and worked in general practice for 5 years. She progressed into Emergency and Critical Care with full-time night shifts at a referral vet hospital where she worked for 9 years. In 2015, she founded the District Veterinary Nursing movement raising standards of veterinary nursing care, home-based nursing clinics, client concordance and embracing the human-animal bond within the veterinary profession.
Carla is a campaigner for One Welfare-One Health, so that the veterinary practice and care becomes inclusive to all members of society, making veterinary practice compliant with the Equality Act 2010. She is an active StreetVet volunteer, advocate of the Deaf community, supporter of Say Aphasia and Dementia Friend Champion.
Tell us about a daily habit or routine you practice that contributes to your productivity and fulfillment?
I get up at 5am and touch base with all the blessings in my life, and I say thank you. This helps me connect with something greater than myself and allows me to download the reasons of why I am here. “Thank you” grounds me.
What was a major setback that you learnt the most from, or actually turned out to be a success?
The set back: Being at the mercy of the expectations and judgement of others. Your life stops being your own life when you function at the expectation of others. We need to accept that we are all unique individuals and to embrace each other. It was good to let go of trying to fit in; I found the key to harmony within myself.
When you start to doubt your own ability, or are having 'a bad day at the office', how do you get back on track?
It is frustrating in the work environment when someone else doesn’t see things from your viewpoint. I try to step away from my own view and look from the other person’s point of view – and I try to reach harmony – so we can respect each other and pull together towards the same direction.
What have you got better at saying no to? How did you realise this and how has it benefitted you?
I’ve got better at saying no to lowering my standards to suit the standards of others. If certain protocols and procedures are the best to follow for the patients in my care – I will carry them out step by step – I will not cut corners, I do not compromise. Peer pressure and gossip does not affect me. I live with my conscience at the end of the day and I sleep easy for I have done right. I have acted in alignment with who I am and my moral principles.
If you could gift a book to all vets at graduation, what would it be, and why?
“Taming Your Gremlin Revised: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way” by Richard David Carson
Tell us about something you are currently a fan of?
I am big into Greta Thunberg and Chris Packham and their campaigns for the protection of our planet and all life, animal, plants. I also practice the One Welfare ethos daily – if we are not mindful of the needs of our fellow human beings – their loving animal companions will never receive the veterinary care they need.
What purchase of less the £100 has most positively impacted your life in the last 12 months?
A travel ticket to go see my family abroad. I so needed to hug them and tell them how much I love them even thought I had not visited for a couple of years with all the work of the DVN campaign.
What is the worst bit of advice you hear regularly in our profession? Why do you feel it is bad advice?
“We have never done that before - this is how we have always done it!” No growth mindset stagnates the profession and is contradictory to human rights and animal welfare.
What advice would you give veterinary graduates about to begin their careers?
1. Do not let the anxious, worried, fearful pet owners, who do not truly mean to lash at you change you. Do not let it stop you from loving humanity. Without this unconditional love we cannot do what we came here to do. Let it go.
2. Do not think that you know everything about the people around you. Presuming and assuming is led by “your” point of view – not always the whole picture. Listen with your heart and mind open.
3. Have the strength of character to know that you have a strong knowledge base and question things when you are not happy about a patient or a treatment plan. It is not about being cocky, it's about recognising that you have the power to make a difference to the wellbeing of your patients.
4. I advise you to spend time with non-vet people – to get a greater sense of your community, to keep you real, to keep you grounded. Be in awe of the arts, music, books and how they connect us all. Do things outside work to remind you who you are - you are a human being like everybody else, then you practice veterinary medicine, not the other way around. You are not a label-wearing a human but a human wearing a label - you make the label.
If you could send a single text to every vet around the world simultaneously, what would it say?
"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Dr W Dyer
Have you been inspired by someone in your career? Or know someone in the veterinary profession who has made a positive impact on you?
There are no strict criteria for contributors or mentors, other than that they are positive, supportive members of our profession.
If someone you know springs to mind, or you have any feedback or ideas relating to our Vet Mentors project, please get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org