Interview with Ola Jankowska from Blackwater Vets

12th October 2021

What made you become a vet? 

It sounds like a cliché but I think most vets are driven by a passion for animal welfare. For me it was about making a difference to animal welfare but also recognising the wonderful bond we share with our pets and so it was also about making a difference to human welfare too. At Blackwater vets we are not only interested in keeping pets healthy physically but we also want people and pets to have happy relationships which impact positively on their mental health too. 

What are your proudest achievements? 

After completing my veterinary degree in 2000, I went on to spend 2 years studying business skills and gained a Diploma. I feel privileged to have been able to develop not only my skills as a veterinary surgeon but also my personal skills. As a veterinary practice owner, I continue to grow and develop and we are currently working with professional organisations that help us develop a wonderful place to work where the emphasis is on working as a team and really enjoying what we do. My team enjoy coming to work, we share the same passion and all want to grow and develop and this makes me immensely proud.  

How long have you been the owner of Mersea Island’s own local veterinary practice? 

I moved to Mersea Island in 2015  after purchasing the practice at that time. In a climate of corporatisation, it is wonderful to be a truly independent veterinary practice where we can fully focus on providing the pets and their owners a personal level of quality veterinary care. Education is also core to our values and we want to engage our clients in a partnership where we can support them with all elements of their pet’s health and happiness.       

How would you describe your practice? 

I feel my practice is different to many others. Developing a team of knowledgeable and passionate people is key to our values and we feel this allows us to offer a high quality, personal and friendly service to our clients. Our focus is very much on developing a true partnership based on mutual respect with our clients. We will always be transparent and honest about the best options for your pet and insist that those who embrace our values put their trust in us. Whilst we will always seek the advice of specialists and discuss referrals with our clients when necessary, we will only accept clients who use us solely as their first opinion practice. This is entirely for the benefit of the pet in ensuring continuity of care and clear communication on treatment plans. 

I feel we offer something quite special to our clients and for that reason we invite people who share our same values of kindness, compassion, understanding and mutual respect to join our practice.  

What are your ethics and values? 

Ultimately it is about developing an environment built on mutual kindness and respect 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I enjoy so many elements of my work and whilst it is always rewarding when an animal returns to health after a successful treatment plan, our focus as a veterinary practice is very much on education and keeping pets happy and healthy. We run nurse clinics and generally I find it so satisfying when I can guide my clients on options for ensuring their pets have happy and healthy lives. 

Older pets are also a passion of mine. In particular I am completely focused on educating clients on how much we can do to maintain a fabulous quality of life for older pets. Pain management is absolutely key to a pet’s happiness of course and is non negotiable for our practice. We also offer amazing services like laser therapy and physiotherapy alongside dietary advice for keeping pets mobile and comfortable in their older years.    

What are the most difficult parts of your job? 

Most people are probably unaware that the veterinary industry is currently in crisis. This is due to a shortage of veterinary staff which has been brought about by a number of factors. Of course, Covid and Brexit has had an impact but the professional is also recognised as very stressful and sadly many vets are leaving the industry. 

What this has meant for me is that I have had to work even harder as I have been without an additional vet since January 2021  and also had a period of 3 months where I didn’t have a full nursing team. This means that I am working incredibly hard to maintain my high standards of care and I think why our practice ethos is very much about being kind to each other. It is a really hard profession at the moment and I thank all of my clients who have been so kind and supportive during this time. I also urge anyone who is getting a pet to ensure they have veterinary care in place before they do so as many vets are unable to take on any new clients.  

Obviously, all areas of pet welfare are important to you, but are there any particular areas which you are most passionate about? 

I believe there is suitable environment for every pet and I absolutely will not euthanise a healthy pet on behavioural grounds, nor will I euthanise a pet that has manageable health problems unless it is on welfare grounds. 

I am proud that due to the partnerships we create with our clients, I have been able to work alongside those who have experienced difficulties with their pets to find other alternative options whereby the pet can continue to live a happy life, perhaps in an environment more suitable. 

What do you think makes your practice different to other vets? 

I have worked hard over the years to get the qualifications and experience I have to offer what I believe is an excellent service to our clients. We are a business and I am absolutely comfortable to charge appropriately for the time and expertise of myself and my professional team. However, our focus on team work, creating partnerships with our clients and also making mutual respect and kindness fundamental to our values, I feel sets us apart.   

If you are a veterinary surgeon reading this article and share our values, then please take a look at our Join Our Team section of our website www.blackwatervets.co.uk