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Young Vet of the Year Award 2019 Winner: keep the faith and take opportunities

05 Aug 2020 | Emily Craven


Emily Craven, BVA Young Vet of the Year Award winner, reflects on winning the award and what it meant for her.

Young Vet of the Year Award 2019 Winner: keep the faith and take opportunities Image

14 November 2019 - I’ll always remember it as the second time I totally overshadowed my sister’s birthday!  The first time involved spending her 18th in Peterborough Hospital with her useless younger sister nursing a head injury, pneumothorax and broken ribs courtesy of some wayward equine feet; the second time being Zoetis BVA Young Vet of the Year!

The whole experience was totally overwhelming - I’m a 100% farm vet and had no concept of success.  To me success is the farmer being genuinely pleased to see you on a call, or the case working out.  I was not aware that I had been nominated and so the email telling me that I been selected to be a finalist came as such a surprise.  I was sitting in the show office at UK Dairy Day scanning through emails and wanted to scream but had to act cool!

In all honesty, like a lot of us, I do struggle with the chimp on my back and after the initial excitement, I felt totally out of my depth and it did take time for me to comprehend the recognition. The other two finalists were great, and I was totally in awe of them. I’m still in awe of them and all of the incredible things that they have and will continue to achieve.  All three of us have done very different things and I hope between us we highlight the diversity that our Vet Passport can give. 

Winning the award was surreal. The Gala Dinner and subsequent trip to the London Vet Show was memorable on so many levels, not least because it turns out this country bumpkin couldn’t get out of the DLR!  But for me, I really saw the best of some of our profession.  I was lucky for those few days, I was surrounded by some great friends and met some people that have subsequently become great friends and it was lovely to be able to share that time with them.  The number of people that were genuinely delighted for me was lovely.  Like most of us, throughout my life, there have been a few key people that have believed in me, often at times when I certainly didn’t and it is an honour to know that I have repaid that belief.  I will be forever grateful for everyone that got me through small animal rotations and I’m sure the orthopaedic team would be surprised to know I actually don’t mind surgery now (farm only though!).

Looking back and reflecting, there are a few salient points that I take out of it:

  • Employers/ bosses please get behind it and remember to tell your team how awesome they are. Most of us vets are all a similar personality type- perfectionists struggling to keep up with our highly demanding internal monologue.  As busy humans (and I know I’m guilty of this too) we forget to tell people how much we appreciate them and how well they’ve done.  It’s great that BVA and Zoetis have come up with this initiative to reward young vets and for any of us nominated to understand that people value our work.  This is the ultimate in validation but actually just remembering to say well done for that case is equally important, possibly even more so. 
  • Remember to be happy! We are all guilty of the ‘I’ll be happy when….’ mentality.  I never planned to be Young Vet of the Year and so I certainly wouldn’t say I will be happy when I have an award!  But for me, I had to process the nomination and the award as in the early days I couldn’t comprehend it.  I was just a vet doing her best.  My whole life I have aspired to be a ‘good’ vet and I would be happy when I was a ‘good’ vet.  The reality was I had never defined what a good vet was!  If forced to define it, I would say it focussed on getting every case right, winning at every surgery etc.  Clearly, I was never going to get there!  I still don’t feel good enough as a vet and to an extent I probably never will (I am an extreme perfectionist) but I’ll never stop trying and I have discovered that I have a worth and can contribute to the profession that I know and love.  I was rewarded for my commitment to the job and my team and I hope that never wanes. 
  • Enjoy the moment- and take the high when someone gives it to you! This career will always be peaks and troughs and I have learnt to accept that.  I really struggle when things don’t work out but at the same time, I’ve also been seen bouncing round a showground because one of ‘my cows’ went all the way in the interbreed championship.  I know I have to process the bad times and I have to remember they are a price worth paying for those good times.  Life would be dull if we are always flatlining and it’s ok to care.  Ultimately, the day I don’t care will be my last in clinical practice, because you don’t get up at 3am on a cold night to get that calf out if you don’t care. 
  • Keep the faith and take opportunities. Five years out seems like a common pinch point.  You’re not learning all of the time and the boredom can creep in.  I had spent a few years happy enough, enjoying life on a day to day level but wondering where I was going.  Idle curiosity and a want to do something different found me helping out at a neighbouring practice and then being nominated Young Vet of the Year.  If I hadn’t said yes to helping out on a few dairy routines, I know I wouldn’t be writing this piece for you today.  

2020 has been a challenging year but we are vets and we are a resilient bunch.  We are used to adapting to ever changing situations and I am aware that there are plenty of young vets out there that have helped others survive and thrive through Covid-19.  I can’t wait to read about the next generation of nominees and what great things they are doing for our profession. 


The Young Vet of the Year Award 2020 is open to self-entry and nominations. The deadline for entries is 7 September 2020.


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