Valentina graduated from Turin, Italy and after a year practicing there she realised she wanted to spend few years abroad and specialise in small ruminant medicine. After 10 years she is now fully settled in Scotland, has successfully completed a residency and PhD program and is enjoying her current position, although she would have never seen it coming when she first qualified.
She loves cooking for friends and family, while also making some time for herself by reading a good book or trying to join the circus.
Tell us about a daily habit or routine you practice that contributes to your productivity and fulfillment?
I am a morning person and I love that half an hour before everyone’s up to sip a nice cup of coffee and start planning my day. I get a few house chores out of the way and then I usually check my calendar and start planning my day. I like to know what’s happening ahead and have a plan for the things that need done and what I can sensibly achieve that day.
What was a major setback that you learnt the most from, or actually turned out to be a success?
You cannot force people to do what you think it’s best for them or for their animals. I found it difficult at first understanding that everyone has their own motivations and personality, which is not necessarily in line with what you think or believe, but probably just a different point of view. I now try to truly listen before making assumptions and decisions. Most of the time, any challenge can be turned into an opportunity. In my opinion, it is down to your attitude and in taking a pro-active approach to act and not being acted upon.
When you start to doubt your own ability, or are having 'a bad day at the office', how do you get back on track?
I take a walk in the nearby park, usually listening to some ‘feel-good’ tunes. Even 10-15 minutes away are enough to see things in perspective and realise the situation is not that bad after all.
Other times, I would make myself a wee cuppa (being tea, coffee or hot chocolate) but I purposely fill up the kettle in the communal kitchen, where you can usually find someone to have a chat about pretty much anything, ideally completely unrelated to work.
What have you got better at saying no to? How did you realise this and how has it benefitted you?
Things I know I’m not going to enjoy or I would not be able to fully commit to. Rather than saying no, I’ve learnt to be honest and say I need to think about it or I could do them but at different terms. Also by planning, I’ve learned there are very few things that needs to be done exactly there and then. Asking for more information before committing and giving real thoughts to what you can take on has made a big difference for me.
If you could gift a book to all vets at graduation, what would it be, and why?
I love reading, so there would be plenty of books I can think of. But one I read recently that really stood out and would literally only take 10 minutes is “Zog and the Flying Doctors” by Julia Donaldson. It showed me how you should always follow your ambitions, no matter what and that you should definitely not be guided exclusively by social conventions.
Tell us about something you are currently a fan of?
I have taken up aerial gymnastics few years ago and I’m completely hooked up. It is challenging from a physical point of view (quite a lot of strength is required) but it also needs so much concentration (you wouldn’t want to fall from few meters off the ground) that while practising it, you cannot literally think about anything else. It’s the most powerful way of switching off I can think of.
What purchase of less the £100 has most positively impacted your life in the last 12 months?
A wearable MP3 player. Listening to music is one of the most enjoyable pleasure and the possibility of doing it while walking, cycling or during any other activity makes it even more rewarding, your mind can really wonder off and make up anything you want.
What is the worst bit of advice you hear regularly in our profession? Why do you feel it is bad advice?
It’s just a job, so just get on with it and do it. We spend a considerable amount of time in our jobs and we are passionate about it. You long for the fulfilment it brings and see the value in what you do. I find it very demoralising when people are so dismissive and don’t realise we are truly committed to do the best we can.
What advice would you give veterinary graduates about to begin their careers?
It’s going to be tough, but it is definitely worth it. There is so much diversity in this career and we are such a valuable profession to the society, from taking care of someone’s beloved pets to being at the forefront of the public health, that you should be proud to be called a vet.
If you could send a single text to every vet around the world simultaneously, what would it say?
No matter who you are or what job you do, being a nice and honest person will take you anywhere you want.
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