Nat Scroggie is a freelance veterinary surgeon. She works as a locum around the East Midlands, but is also enjoying developing her writing, speaking and media work. Nat is passionate about exercise and well-being in the veterinary profession. She also founded the Vet MINDS Group in 2019, offering support and understanding to veterinary professionals facing pregnancy loss and infertility.
Tell us about a daily habit or routine you practice that contributes to your productivity and fulfilment?
This year I started using a Bullet Journal. It’s essentially a method of writing to-do lists in a monthly, weekly and daily log. The monthly page is split into whatever sections you need, at the moment it looks like: Wedding, This Vet Ltd, Writing, and Vet MINDS. I sit down at the beginning of each week and each day to fill it in.
Being able to brain dump my ‘to-do’s’ stops them from constantly whirling around my head. This has massively reduced my stress, as well as helping me be more productive with the little bites of time you find.
What was a major setback that you learnt the most from, or actually turned out to be a success?
One of the biggest crises I’ve faced was questioning whether I really wanted to be a vet. I’d worked all my life to get there, but at the time it wasn’t making me happy.
With the support of some true vet mentors I found that you can be creative with what being a vet looks like. Realising I was able to bring my non-clinical passions like writing and running into my career was a game-changer, and I found my love for clinical work again.
I’m so glad that experience gave me the push to step outside of my plan.
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?
I’m a really up and down person, which is something I’ve struggled with. But there are two things I know I can rely on: exercise and my tribe. I’m a huge believer in the power of exercise in re-setting your brain, and it’s the single best thing I’ve done for my mental health and wellbeing.
But over the last year I’ve also found some incredible friends and mentors in the veterinary profession (and beyond). I know I’m externally motivated, and I need that support. As a freelancer, this tribe is my way of staying connected and grounded.
What have you got better at saying no to? How did you realise this and how has it benefitted you?
I started off my journey into stay-versification and freelance life by a commitment to saying YES! And it opened some amazing doors.
I’ve also learnt the hard way to start being more honest with myself and others about my capacity. Jenny Guyat first put that word in my head: capacity.
Saying to someone that you would love to be involved, but don’t have the capacity at the moment, is a wonderful and honest phrase. It’s not saying you that you don’t value them, or the project.
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!)
I’m obsessed at the moment with “Why We Sleep”, by Matthew Walker. He is trying to educate, and change the culture around sleep on a global level. But if every veterinary professional read it, I think it would revolutionise our micro-culture.
Sleep is the least prioritised of our basic human functions. It is as important as eating and drinking, yet we see it as a kind of laziness. Think how we would alter shift patterns, breaks, and OOH work if we respected it properly.
Tell us about something you are currently a fan of? This could be anything; a person, trend, hypothesis, mindset, diet, activity, tech, hobby etc.
I am a huge fan of the Headspace app, particularly the 3 minute meditations. Taking the time to start my day in a place of quiet has been life-changing. Sometimes I park around the corner from a practice I’m locuming at and do it in my car! No-one has spotted me yet (that I know of)...
What purchase of less the £100 has most positively impacted your life in the last 12 months?
This would have to be my bullet journal. And all the coloured pens that come with it.
What is the worst bit of advice you hear regularly in our profession? Why do you feel it is bad advice?
It isn’t veterinary specific, but I try to never use the phrase “It’ll all be fine”. If you find yourself needing to say this to someone, the likelihood is that they reached out to you because they aren’t fine. Think of how you can support them instead of dismissing whatever it is they are going through, as good as the intention may be.
What advice would you give veterinary graduates about to begin their careers?
A veterinary degree is the most amazing passport. Your veterinary career may not take you where you expected, which can be really frightening, but it might be even better.
Seek opportunities, find your tribe, and never let yourself reach a place where you lose the passion you started with.
The profession is made up of kind people. Reach out to them, whether it’s in person or on social media. Be an active member of the profession you worked so hard to join.
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.
You are part of an amazing tribe. There is never any need to feel alone. Reach out, and we will find you.