Stacey graduated from the University of Liverpool Vet School with an intercalated Master’s degree from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and has a PhD from Harper Adams University on dairy herd health planning. Stacey has worked in practice, for an online CPD provider, The Webinar Vet and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) as the Head of Learning & Development. Currently, Stacey is a Scientific Copywriter, undertaking freelance projects and is a trustee for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF).
Tell us about a daily habit or routine you practice that contributes to your productivity and fulfilment?
I use project management software to help me manage my priorities and deadlines for the range of projects I am working on. Before finishing work at the end of each day I plan which task I am going to tackle first the following morning. Also, at the start of each week I plan my exercise activities and add them into my diary because I have found that planning exercise on an ad hoc basis can sometimes lead to such activities being overlooked which does not make for a productive and fulfilling week.
What was a major setback that you learnt the most from, or actually turned out to be a success?
A major setback that I learnt the most from was when I suffered with an acute mental health crisis when I was a new graduate. I received cognitive behavioural therapy which further improved my self-awareness. My therapist, Becky, challenged my beliefs and behaviours which was an eye-opener for me. The sessions were tough at the start but I enjoy having my opinions challenged and I am always open to debate and learning from others. I think I have gained a lot from being more self-aware because I have a clearer understanding of my values and why they are important to me.
When you start to doubt your own ability, or are having 'a bad day at the office', how do you get back on track? Can you give us an example?
When I am starting to doubt my own ability, I speak to someone who I trust to talk through how I am feeling. I have come to realise that doubting your ability from time to time is a common experience for many people. When the frequency of my self-doubt increases, I will ask for help from a family member, friend or colleague who I think could help. When I am having a tough day, taking my dog for a longer walk than usual is helpful and acknowledging the positive aspects of the day (no matter how small!) can help to put things into perspective.
What have you got better at saying no to? How did you realise this and how has it benefitted you?
I am better at asking what is expected of me before providing a decision. I like to think about how I might add value to a project, what I could learn and if I realistically have the time to provide a valuable contribution. I am an opportunity taker by nature so I do find it quite tricky to turn down a new adventure. However, I try to weigh up what I might have to say no to or have less time for if I do say yes. Being clear on the expectations, learning experiences and aligning with my values are all aspects I think about before saying yes or indeed no!
If you could gift a book to all vets at graduation, what would it be, and why? (It doesn't have to be specific to animal health!)
The book I would gift to all vets at graduation is Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead. One of the messages that resonated with me the most was that “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind”. When I was reading the book so many examples from a wide variety of settings sprung to mind from my own experiences. From these experiences, I have observed that ambiguity can lead to assumptions, frustration and/or doubt. A combination best avoided in my opinion.
Tell us about something you are currently a fan of? This could be anything; a person, trend, hypothesis, mindset, diet, activity, tech, hobby etc. (max 100 words)
I have always been a fan of sport, team sports in particular. However, after a footballing injury I started to dabble with triathlons (less twisty-turny on the joints!) and whilst I like the variety in training, my true love is team sport. My local gym started offering netball training sessions and I thought, training will be ok because it won’t be as competitive as a game. Fast-forward six months and I am a playing competitively! I’m still making sure that I keep up my circuit training and multi-sport activities with some yoga to try and keep my knees and ankles happy.
What purchase of less than £100 has most positively impacted your life in the last 12 months?
I have recently subscribed to the Harvard Business Review (a smidgen over £100). I really enjoy the articles on a range of topics such as leadership, organisational culture, innovation, personal development, strategy, psychology and governance. This variety combined with the evidence-based approach to the vast majority of their articles is really appealing and I find myself thinking about how I can apply the take home messages.
What is the worst bit of advice you hear regularly in our profession? Why do you feel it is bad advice?
I have become concerned in recent years about the perception of new and recent graduates not being resilient enough implying that it is a binary individual characteristic in that you are either a resilient person or not. An individual’s resilience fluctuates and their ability to ‘bounce back’ at any given time is multi-factorial. Regardless of whether you have been qualified for two months, two years or twenty years, everyone faces difficulties for which support would be helpful to ‘bounce back’. Practising self-care routinely is certainly very beneficial in my experience but should not replace a supportive working environment.
What advice would you give veterinary graduates about to begin their careers?
I think it is important to make time for activities which are not directly connected to your job. Plan things to look forward to. Don’t make assumptions. Ask for help when you need it. If you ask for help at work and don’t receive it, find a more supportive workplace. Don’t let helpful reflections turn into unhealthy rumination – you might need help with this, I did.
If you could send a single text to every vet around the world simultaneously, what would it say? This can be one word, a message or an entire paragraph.