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Careers with North Star Vets: The exciting challenge of being one of our practice directors

“I have full responsibility for driving my practice forward”

I’m Rhys, and I’ve been practice director and co-owner of Westbrook Vets since we opened in 2022.

The year we’ve been open has been an exciting challenge and a real success.
I’m sharing my story for two key reasons:

For one, I believe working with North Star is a great opportunity for ambitious vets who dream of owning their own practice.

Secondly, Westbrook Vets is growing, and if you’re drawn in while reading about our ethos and my vision for our practice, we’d love to hear from you.

Rhys from Westbrook Vets

After qualifying from Bristol in 2014 I spent four years in first opinion practice, followed by a year of locumming – which gave me the inside track on how 10-15 different practices operate and a great idea as to how I would and wouldn’t want my own practice to operate.

After this I was approached by the Animal Trust to open a practice with them, going in as the lead vet, with the opportunity to do a lot of the management side in the practice too. Two years in and I was promoted to an area manager role taking on a 24 hour practice in Shrewsbury as well as continuing to oversee the Wrexham practice. 

I split my time roughly 50/50 between management and clinical work and it was the perfect training ground for my position now. After another year in this role I began to think about my next step.

I’d read about North Star in Vet Times a few months earlier without thinking too much about it, but something must have stuck in my mind. Once I was considering my next steps the bell went off in the back of my head. I did a bit of Googling and ended up sending an email over to Sean, one of our directors. We arranged for me to meet the team at Burford Lane. 

Driving over I was a bit sceptical but everything we discussed made perfect sense and fitted in so well with what I wanted to do. 

I’ve always wanted to own my own practice and I thought that the way to do that was to work your way up in a practice until you have the opportunity to buy in. Unfortunately, there’s just not many places where that really exists anymore, and I’d started to think that the idea of ownership wasn’t necessarily achievable. 

I’ve looked into other models that claim to offer ownership, but in reality it’s not what I’d be looking for in terms of having true ownership and control over your practice, and you can end up locked into a situation that isn’t offering you what you want.

Working with North Star has been the perfect fit. In establishing Westbrook I’ve had full responsibility, where I want, for driving the business forward and making the decisions I feel will bring us success.

Rhys outside Westbrook Vets

”Our focus is to build a strong bond between our team and our clients”

I don’t feel restricted in any way in terms of what I can do or how we can drive things forward.

When I want to make a change, I haven’t ever felt like it’s a case of going away and asking for permission. It’s more me feeding back to the directors what I want to do and why I think it’s best for my practice, and then having their support to help me achieve those goals. It’s not like having a boss, it’s working together with fellow directors. 

For example, right from the start I’ve been really keen on the Star Pet Health Plan – and how we use that and market it has evolved over time.  

I made the decision to only offer one version of the plan as I believe unlimited consults is the model that works for my practice. So I decided to drop the vaccination and parasite treatment only version. For context, Sandymoor Vets offers both plans, while Burford Lane doesn’t use the plan at all. It was the same process when I decided to include VidiVet in my health plan

My aim for Westbrook is to work as a team to build a strong relationship with our clients and their pets. We want them to come and see us whenever they need to, and to see the same person every time they come in – something which has been lost a bit in the industry. 

I think we’re doing a really good job of this and we’ve been getting incredible feedback from clients. 

In my opinion, a happy team builds a successful practice, so that’s where a lot of my effort goes. 

When the team are happy, positive, bought into the practice and love their jobs, they’re going to be more engaging with our clients. And then that’s how that bond between the client and the practice grows. 

”No matter your experience level, the support from North Star makes a massive difference”

I’m fortunate that my experience has given me a great platform from which to run my practice and manage our team. 

But with the North Star team here to support us, I believe ambitious vets of any background could have a fantastic experience opening a practice with us.

The support from the central team saves a lot of headaches, whether that’s HR and marketing, through to a situation that we have now where we’re expanding Westbrook into the building next door, and I’m not having to drive that on my own on top of running the practice. It makes a massive difference. 

It’s always nice that we can bounce ideas around between myself and the directors of the other practices. We have regular meetings, we’re very much not in isolation, and it was particularly useful when we were setting up and members of Burford Lane could pop over to lend a hand or talk us through processes. 

It takes some of the pressure off me as well – for example, if I’m on a day off but one of my vets can’t make it in for whatever reason, I don’t necessarily have to drop everything and rush in, we have Burford Lane and Sandymoor who can lend a hand. 

That means the team’s personal time and family life are more protected than if we were just Westbrook Vets without North Star and the other practices alongside us.

If you’re interested in the North Star model, what I’d say is that you’ve got nothing to lose by getting in touch and having a conversation. 

If you’ve considered going down the route of practice ownership but you’re worried about all of the different, difficult aspects that go into it, working with North Star is a really good model to go down in terms of having lots of support without giving away your autonomy in your practice or taking on a massive financial burden. 

Everybody here is really friendly and the worst case scenario is you have an interesting chat about your future in the industry with experienced people and decide our model isn’t for you – there’s literally nothing to lose. 

Interested? Get in touch today!

If everything you’ve read makes you think North Star is a perfect match for your ambitions, we’d love to hear from you. 

You can see our current vacancies here, but with the speed at which we hope to grow, we’re always interested to talk to people, to work out if we’re a good fit and to work out how best we can offer you an opportunity to be a part of our story.  

For an informal chat, you can send your phone number and availability to our HR coordinator, Christy, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – and she’ll get back to you ASAP!