Profiles Details

Ellie Szczerba

Meet your AMTRA Registered Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA) - Ellie Szczerba - Shop Floor Supervisor, Mole Country Stores, Andover

Ellie joined the team at Mole Country Stores in Andover some three years ago, having honed her passion for animals initially at a smallholding connected to a village pub she had been working at from college.

“I was involved in lambing and shearing, and spent a lot of time working with farmers,” says Ellie. “It was the first time I had worked with animals, and I wanted to learn more.”

This passion led Ellie to gaining a diploma in animal management at Sparsholt College in Winchester, before the opportunity to join the team at Mole Country Stores arose.

“My course was very hands-on, but much more about animal husbandry and practical animal handling, so when I had the opportunity to join the team here and learn more about different products and feeds, and to train towards my RAMA qualification, I jumped at the chance,” she says.

“The qualification was the most challenging thing I have ever undertaken, but also my biggest achievement,” adds Ellie, who is now qualified to supply and prescribe medicines for equine and farm animals, as well as companion animals.

The training doesn’t stop on qualification, as it is crucial to stay up to speed with new products and content in the constantly evolving world of animal healthcare.

However, Ellie says that gaining the trust of customers is key for her and her team to deliver the right advice, taking into account a thorough understanding of the animal’s environment and individual circumstances.

“The qualification is just the start, along with our on-going CPD training, but the most important part of my role is developing that understanding, that we are working towards the best outcome for your loved companion animal,” she says.

When working with companion animals, Ellie says getting advice right on ectoparasites such as fleas is the most common issue she handles.

“In the case of dogs, it’s probably fair to say that only a third of owners use the right product when it comes to fleas,” she says, “There is no point, for example, just to use a preventative medicine if your dog is already infected by fleas. The human eye will not necessarily see the fleas in the environment until six months into infestation.”  

This is why Ellie insists her training as a RAMA, and an understanding of the environment and individual circumstances of the animal is crucial to ensure she can provide the right advice and prescribe the most suitable course of treatment.

“If there is an infestation, there is not a quick fix. As well as identifying the right treatment, we need to look at the bigger picture, and advise on other measures such as washing bedding, housing sprays and the general home environment,” says Ellie.

“It is not about adding on costs, it is essential if we are to get rid of the infestation,” she adds.

Although the summer months are often more associated with flea treatments, Ellie says it is important to keep up with flea, tick and wormer programmes throughout the year. However, as we enter the winter months, and hit frost periods, her advice turns more to general welfare and care.

Ellie says she has been encouraged by how increasingly owners are interested to talk about things like animal enrichment, for example discussing activities or nutrition for a customer’s specific dog or a specific breed.

“Once again, gaining that understanding and confidence with the owner, opens up that wider communication for the overall welfare and care of your companion animal,” says Ellie.

“It helps when I can talk of my own personal experiences with my two rescue collies, it helps engender that more holistic approach so we can help keep your companion animal as fit, healthy and happy as possible,” she concludes.

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