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    Did you know? Chatting all things Vet Nursing for VN Awareness Month

    31 May 2024

    This May has been – with 2024 marking two decades of the month, which works to raise awareness of the profession.

    To mark the occasion, a group of èƵ Adams students and lecturers from our Veterinary Nursing degree got together to hold a roundtable discussion, examining some of their favourite parts of the profession, some of its challenges, and how more people can be encouraged to look into whether a role in Veterinary Nursing is right for them.

    Undergraduate Programme Manager for Veterinary Nursing Pippa Bond, Lecturer and Year One Course Tutor Joanne Ashcroft, final year Veterinary Nursing students Laurel Belverstone and Rebecca Dawes and second year VN student Megan Buckle all took part.

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     Public perceptions

    Talking about what the person in the street should know about Veterinary Nurses, Pippa said: “I would like them to recognise that we are fully qualified and regulated by a professional body; the RCVS – yet still the title Veterinary Nurse does not have statutory protection.

    “That is the mark of quality and standards, that we are upholding the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses, we are taking full responsibility for our actions in practice, and are an integral part of providing gold standard patient care.

    “The training to provide that is accredited by the RCVS, and whether through the FE route or the HE route, requires dedication - a four-year degree course is no small feat to achieve.

    “So that recognition for the skills that we have, and the time spent in education is necessary.”

    Rebecca added: “When you speak to people, they are not aware we have to go through so much training as well – they just kind of think we’re in the background.”

    And Laurel joked: “People just think we play with puppies and kittens – I wish it was like that, but it’s not!”

    Student perceptions

    Thinking about their original views of vet nursing – and what drew them to the course – the students noted how hands-on, practical experience helped to hone their understanding.

    Rebecca said: “When I applied for Uni, I applied for vet med, that was what I wanted to do – but it was only through actually seeing what we do, day-to-day, through work experience that I changed my mind, and I think ‘actually, I am better suited to the nursing role’ so I don’t know if people are made aware of what you can do – you can still go to Uni and be a nurse – vets go into schools and are like ‘ be a vet’ but I don’t think nurses are promoted as much.

    “I think work experience is a really crucial part of understanding the role – because you really see that it’s not all the nice stuff that people think we do – that it is tough as well, it is challenging, mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

    And Megan added: “I think, just from going to the vets with my animals and volunteering, I knew the brief role of the vet nurse – but I didn’t know exactly what to expect from being one – but I think it has lived up to everything you’d expect!”

     High points of the job

    Thinking about some of the points of the job that appealed to each of them and drew them into the profession, the table agreed on the importance of offering care to their patients.

    Laurel said: “We are in the job because we like animals, so being able to say you helped that animal, and watching their journey from when they first came in to you – whatever condition they were in – to how they have left you, with their owner, happy and healthy, is great.”

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    Rebecca added: “I think it’s nice to build relationships with clients, because when they do know that you are there, and they do know what you can do, it is nice to see the effect, and to have them keep coming back.

    “I remember one consult, I was in there for forty minutes, because the owner kept asking questions, because she was genuinely engaged and wanted to know.

    “I think that’s nice, because you are giving answers to people, on such a level that it will keep their pet healthy for longer.

    Megan also found her niche in developing her people skills – an important part of working with clients.

    She added: “When people come in and they have either just lost their pet, or they are worried about their pet, being able to comfort them and everything – I quite like that side of it.”

    Sharing stories and developing careers

    Both the lecturers and the students were keen to emphasise the importance of sharing stories and information about veterinary nursing and the varied careers which studying the subject can lead too.

    Joanne said: “Because we are such a young profession, there are a lot of people who are blazing trails – and sharing that information and making it accessible is really important, and I think it’s something we could do better as a profession – because when you are in it, you are doing it, it’s hard to find time to write about how you got to that point – but if we could support people to make the time to do that, it’d be really good.”

    And Pippa added: “Although the profession is quite young, we are not a young course. èƵ was one of the first providers to start offering veterinary nursing.

    “The idea of being able to use your degree, or further education qualification, to then build up to Certificate, to Diploma and then to Masters’ level is still relatively new – but it is vital for veterinary nurses wanting to progress.

    “Now, we just need to make sure people know about those routes!”

    And Megan added: “I spoke to a few people in different years who are doing this course – and they weren’t aware of how many different avenues you can go down.

    “So yes, on completion you will be eligible to apply for RVN status, but that can also take you into nutrition, behaviour, rehabilitation – it can take you so many different places alongside being a nurse!”

    Our First Year Veterinary Nursing Cohort, 2024

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