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VN school ambassador scheme opens for applications

VN school ambassador scheme opens for applications

RVNs and final-year SVNs are invited to apply.

The RCVS has opened applications for its VN Futures School Ambassadors scheme and is looking for registered veterinary nurses and student veterinary nurses in their final year of study to apply.

Launched to encourage children to choose a career in veterinary nursing, the VN Futures School Ambassadors Scheme aims to raise awareness of the role and how rewarding looking after animals can be.

Through the scheme, ambassadors will be able to access resources and support to enable them to deliver career information to children between the ages of nine and 16. The volunteer will be able to tailor the talks to suit themselves, with suggested topics including how to become a veterinary nurse and real-life scenarios that occur in practice.

The launch follows work by the School Ambassadors Development Group, in which volunteer VN Futures School Ambassadors developed resources and carried out talks in classrooms, at careers fairs and virtually.

Jill Macdonald, RCVS VN Futures Lead, said: “Like so many VNs, I didn’t learn about a veterinary nursing career until I had left school. Many children are passionate about animal welfare, and we hope that hearing a talk from an enthusiastic veterinary nurse will inspire children to consider a career in veterinary nursing. We want to talk to as many budding VNs as possible to help them learn about how valuable and rewarding a veterinary nursing career can be.”

VNs and SVNs that apply to the scheme will undergo induction training and a DBS check provided by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Learning. They will also become members of the STEM Community and be able to access the many resources that STEM offers.

Ambassadors will also receive access to the VN Futures School Ambassadors website, which includes a host of veterinary nursing-specific resources to download, including interactive worksheets, ideas for approaches to school talks, and colourful careers guides.

Racheal Marshall, VN School Ambassador, commented: “Through my ambassador role, I’ve delivered several online sessions and it's been a great experience to meet children of all ages and talk to them about what VNs actually do. Many of the children I speak to are really interested in animal welfare and may become the VNs of the future.

“Being a VN School Ambassador allows me to talk to them about how they can turn their passion for looking after animals into a career. My ambition as an ambassador is to help increase the diversity of the profession by speaking to children who may not have considered vet nursing as a career option.

For more information about the scheme and to register your interest, visit vnfutures.org.uk

Online transfusion medicine course launched

Online transfusion medicine course launched

Improve International and Pet Blood Bank UK are collaborating on the course. 

Pet Blood Bank UK has partnered with Improve International to created an online CPD programme in transfusion medicine for veterinary nurses and technicians.

The course offers the opportunity to gain a Nurse Certificate (NCert), Veterinary Technician Certificate (VTCert) or Veterinary Paraprofessional Certificate (VPPCert), and has been accredited by the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies.

Beginning on 1 July 2022, the course takes place online, and will be delivered over the course of 15 months. 

Helen Rooney BSC (Hons) CVN, Cert Ed, Dip AVN (Medical), Cert ECCVN, RVN, Induction & Training Manager, Pet Blood Bank UK commented: “After 14 years of supporting veterinary practices with transfusion medicine and running our blood bank service, we feel the time is right to pass on what we have learned. 

“We know that transfusions are now being performed in first opinion, as well as referral settings and we are so excited to be part of this formal training and qualification for veterinary nurses.

 “Transfusion medicine is an ideal specialism for nurses as many aspects can be nurse-led, including the recruitment of blood donors and on-site product management, setting up the transfusion and monitoring recipients and developing practice transfusion protocols.

“This unique course is suitable for any nurse wanting to advance their transfusion knowledge and more confidently support their clinicians when the decision to transfuse is made.  

“At Pet Blood Bank, providing education and training to advance transfusion medicine has always been a core part of our mission so we are delighted to support the creation of this course.”

Further details on the course, including pricing, modules and FAQs, can be found here. 

 

RCVS vet nursing director wins BSAVA Award

RCVS vet nursing director wins BSAVA Award

Julie Dugmore celebrated for her commitment to VN education. 

Julie Dugmore, director of veterinary nursing at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, has received an award for her dedication to improving the standards of veterinary nursing education worldwide.

The Bruce Vivash Jones Veterinary Nursing Award is part of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association's (BSAVA) awards, and is presented in recognition for outstanding contributions to the advancement of small animal veterinary nursing. 

RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett commented: “I am very proud to have Julie as my colleague and it is wonderful that her decades-long contribution to the veterinary nursing profession both in the UK and abroad has been recognised in this way.

"As her award nomination makes clear, Julie is an internationally-recognised expert on veterinary education standards who is often invited to speak at conferences and provide her expertise on this subject across Europe.”

In announcing Julie as the recipient of the award, the BSAVA cited her national and international work on improving veterinary nursing education standards, as well as her roles as Chair of the Accreditation Committee for Veterinary Nursing Education (ACOVENE), as a former Board Member of the Veterinary European Transnational Network for Nursing Education and Training (VETNNET).

The BSAVA also noted Julie's work with several Leonardo da Vinci Programme-funded projects, developing veterinary nurse training across the European Union. 

Julie and her team have also carried out many projects to advance veterinary nursing education, including the introduction of a new Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, an improvement of the quality standards for veterinary nursing education and progressing the VN Futures project. 

“Julie is always very modest about her achievements, so I am delighted that this award is an opportunity to showcase her hard work, which has helped make the UK a world-leader in veterinary nurse training, standards and best practice,” Lizzie continued. 

Discussing her award, Julie said: “I would like to thank BSAVA for this special award. I am delighted and honoured to have been recognised by my peers and, along with my wonderful team, I will continue to do all I can to progress our profession.”

 

Image (C) RCVS

Professions pay tribute to 'inspiring' veterinary nurse

Professions pay tribute to 'inspiring' veterinary nurse

The RCVS and BVNA have released statements following the passing of Jean Turner RVN.

The RCVS and BVNA have paid tribute to 'inspiring' veterinary nurse, Jean Turner, who has sadly passed away.

The organisations described Ms Turner as ‘a longstanding and prominent member of the veterinary nursing profession’, and ‘a true representative’ for veterinary nurses. 

Jean qualified as a Registered Animal Nursing Auxiliary (RANA) in 1971 and worked in general practice for more than 20 years. During her career, she trained many veterinary nurses and was an RCVS Examiner and Trustee. 

In 2011, Jean won the prestigious RCVS Veterinary Nursing Golden Jubilee Award for her outstanding contribution to veterinary nursing. She was also a trustee of the BVNA Daphne Shipman Benevolent Fund since 1999. 

Reflecting on Ms Turner’s impact on the profession, VN Council chair Matthew Rendle said: “I can say from first-hand experience that Jean was a totally inspiring figure for me and many others in veterinary nursing, demonstrated by the fact she won the inaugural Veterinary Nursing Golden Jubilee Award for her enormous contribution.

“She was herself a significant contributor to the story of veterinary nursing, as someone who was dedicated to championing the value of the profession, providing her wisdom and insight to the next generation of veterinary nurses, and encouraging veterinary nurses to have pride and confidence in their skills and experience.”

He added: “She will be very much missed by me and many others in the profession.”

A statement posted on the BVNA’s website reads: “[Jean’s] impact to the veterinary nursing profession and the BVNA was remarkable, as not only was she a BVNA Council member for sixteen years, she was also on the Editorial Board for the VNJ (Veterinary Nursing Journal) and a trustee of the BVNA Daphne Shipman Benevolent Fund since 1999.

“Jean was a true representative for veterinary nursing and the BVNA, she was well-loved and will be sorely missed by all those who knew her.”

Image (C) RCVS.

Report highlights wellbeing concerns of student VNs

Report highlights wellbeing concerns of student VNs

Findings will guide future resources, research and support.

A new report highlighting key discussions from the recent Student Veterinary Nurse (SVN) Wellbeing Discussion Forum has been published by the Mind Matters Initiative and VN Futures.

Some 650 student SVNs recently qualified veterinary nurses and clinical coaches attended the Discussion Forum, which was based around four key survey results impacting the mental wellbeing of the profession, including incivility and bullying, juggling demands, disability and chronic illness, and awareness, recognition and pride.

Of those that responded to the survey, 96 per cent of people felt that bullying and incivility are serious problems within the profession and that many of the bullying accounts involved people in senior positions acting poorly towards people in more junior roles. 

Many respondents also said the demands of their work were affecting their wellbeing, with some individuals saying they didn’t even have time to eat or use the toilet when they were at work. Around 81 per cent of respondents said that they found their job stressful. 

On disability and chronic illness, one in three respondents identified as having a disability or chronic illness and one in five as neurodiverse. Respondents with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses said they were often made to feel like a burden, especially when requesting to shield during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A high proportion of respondents said they had felt they had chosen the right career and were passionate about caring for the animals in their care. However, low pay and lack of respect from vets and the public were highlighted as recurring issues within the role.

Among those in attendance at the Discussion Forum were Mind Matters Initiative manager, Lisa Quigley, and BVNA president Alexandra Taylor. Ms Taylor outlined the challenges people with disabilities and chronic illnesses face and what the veterinary profession can do to support their staff. 

Dr Simon Fleming, an NHS trauma and orthopaedic registrar, explained the impact that bullying can have on the person being bullied and those who witness it. RVN Jane Davidson spoke about setting healthy boundaries and how these can be applied in the vet nursing role. 

Attendees were then invited to join breakout discussion sessions to discuss their experiences and how they feel the profession could improve the mental wellbeing of vet nurses. The key outcomes from those discussions were:
  • more needed to be done to make it clear that the MMI is for the whole veterinary profession, not just vet surgeons. 
  • there needed to be additional resources and training to educate employers and the wider veterinary professions about the legal rights for people with a chronic illness and/or disability in the workplace and their expectations in terms of reasonable adjustments. 
  • training needed to be given to help people understand how to address bullying in the workplace and that this should be given as early as their initial veterinary training. 
  • some students said they would not feel comfortable challenging a senior member of staff and said that they would benefit from having training in how to address the behaviour of someone in a senior position. 
  • there needed to be a change in the culture around taking breaks and that staff should be actively encouraged to switch off during their break times. 

“We’re really pleased that so many people attended our Wellbeing Forum and engaged with the discussion sessions,” commented Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Initiative Manager. “Throughout the discussions, some people shared difficult and personal experiences and we want to thank everyone for being so open and for being respectful to those who shared their stories.”

She added that student and veterinary nurse wellbeing will be key components of the 2022- 2027 MMI strategy, which we will be launching in the spring. 

“The forum discussions, survey results and feedback from the student vet nursing community will be incorporated into the survey and guide the resources, research and support we work on to help improve the mental wellbeing of the profession,” she said.

RCVS releases eBook to celebrate VN Jubilee

RCVS releases eBook to celebrate VN Jubilee

The interactive eBook marks the end of the VN profession's 60th anniversary. 

As the 60th anniversary of the veterinary nursing profession draws to a close, the RCVS has released an interactive eBook to mark the VN Jubilee.

The eBook, which highlights the history and future of veterinary nursing, alongside moments of significance within the profession, features video testimonials and interviews from veterinary nurses, including from Matthew Rendle, chair of VN Council, and Julie Dugmore, RCVS director of veterinary nursing. 

Julie said: “The launch of the RCVS Diamond Jubilee eBook marks the end of a very special year for the profession, and it’s wonderful that vet nurses across the country will be able to read about the achievements of the profession they are part of. 

“I would encourage as many people as possible to read the eBook and find out more about the history and achievements of vet nursing.”

Discussing the 60th anniversary of the profession, VN Council chair Matthew Rendle said: “60 years is a huge milestone for vet nursing. I’ve been in the profession for 30 years and I’ve seen amazing advancements in that time. 

“I think this is a great opportunity to take time to reflect on all the progress that has been made and how we’re growing in numbers but also growing in knowledge and becoming more and more respected as vital members of the veterinary team.”

BVNA comments on Workforce Summit

BVNA comments on Workforce Summit

Alex Taylor and Jo Oakden attended the meeting to represent VNs. 

Representatives from the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) were present at the RCVS Workforce Summit in London, to join discussions on potential solutions to the workforce issues facing the veterinary nursing profession.

BVNA president Alex Taylor, and senior vice president Jo Oakden attended the Summit, where the key areas of concern that were discussed were readiness for work, work-life balance, workplace culture, client interaction, career development and return to work for those who have left the profession. 

Alex Taylor, BVNA president, commented on the Summit: “The RCVS Workforce Summit was an incredibly productive day, and it was clear that everyone in attendance was there to achieve a common goal – to actively look for solutions to the current workforce crisis facing the veterinary profession in the UK. 

“Whilst we were all aware of how recent changes and challenges have affected the veterinary profession, we were united in our approach that change needs to come from everyone, and that we need to look at our profession with a fresh perspective if we want to move forward.

“The BVNA’s presence at this important event was paramount in ensuring the voices of our members and veterinary nurses in the UK were heard.

“What was particularly evident was the overwhelming support from other veterinary associations for the proper utilisation of veterinary nurses in their job role and further development of their career. 

“All seem to recognise how beneficial this would be for both veterinary teams and the general public. I am looking forward to reading the final report and action plan once they are published, as I think they will provide good guidance to all veterinary professionals. 

“Whilst we still have a long way to go in solving the workforce crisis, attending this event gave me hope that support is there and that solutions can be found if we work together.”

Jo Oakden added: “Representing the BVNA at the summit we ensured the veterinary nurses voice was heard. 

“We particularly focused on work place culture and work-life balance, which we feel underpins many of the challenges the VN profession is facing. 

“To move forward and address these challenges we need to be solution driven - realise what we cannot control and focus on what we can have an impact in. Change will not happen overnight, but we need to keep working together and engaging to make sure change does happen.

“The BVNA is working hard at doing this every day - we look forward to seeing the outcomes from the day collated and will continue being the voice for veterinary nurses in these important discussions.”

 

Images (C) BVNA

RVN raises money for Macmillan with sponsored walk

RVN raises money for Macmillan with sponsored walk

Nicola Tooth is walking 100km over November with her dog Nelson.  

Nicola Tooth, an RVN from Cave Veterinary Specialists, has undertaken a challenge to walk 100 kilometres with her dog over the month of November.

Along with her chocolate Labrador Nelson, Nicola is taking part in a walking challenge organised by UK charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Nicola commented on the challenge: “I have a close relative who has survived breast cancer and I feel strongly about supporting the ongoing research to fight this terrible disease. 

“I do love outdoor walking and as long as we can manage at least 3.3k per day, we will be right on target to complete it in the 30 days. I’m pretty confident as that’s the sort of daily distance I normally do with Nelson.”

The challenge is even more difficult for Nicola, who has mild undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy of the spine, which is a form of arthritis which affects the vertebrae. 

“The challenge is to walk 100km with your dog in November and that suits both me and Nelson. Because of my spinal disease I am unable to do any hardcore exercise so this is an ideal challenge for me, something that was little and often throughout November,” Nicola said. 

“Nelson’s only seven months old so little and often exercise is perfect for him too because he’s still developing.”

Claire Lawrence, Cave's hospital director, added: “Everyone at Cave is super proud of Nicola and Nelson for undertaking this challenge for such a worthy cause.”

Donations to support Nicola's fundraiser can be made here

MMI and BVNA collaborate on anti-bullying webinar

MMI and BVNA collaborate on anti-bullying webinar

The webinar will take place during Anti-Bullying Week 2021.  

The RCVS' Mind Matters Initiative (MMI), alongside the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) to create a webinar focusing on tackling incivility and bullying in the veterinary workplace.

Entitled, 'Why behaviour matters: what VNs/SVNs can do when faced with incivility and bullying', the hour-long webinar comes after a recent MMI survey discovered that 96 per cent of student veterinary nurses and recent nursing graduates said that they felt that bullying was a serious problem in the professions. 

Taking place on Thursday 18 November at 7.30pm, the webinar will see Helen Silver-MacMahon, senior trainer at VetLed, and Nicky Ackerley from the BVNA Members Advisory Service talk attendees through topics related to bullying in the profession. 

Items discussed in the webinar will include the extent of bullying in the professions, how VNs can access support if they are being bullied, and different techniques people can use to protect their wellbeing in difficult situations. 

Mind Matters Initiative manager Lisa Quigley commented on the upcoming webinar: “Bullying has no place in the veterinary professions. 

“Each one of us has a role to play in calling out and addressing this unacceptable behaviour wherever it occurs. 

“Our upcoming webinar is just the start of what I am sure will be an extremely fulfilling and positive collaboration with BVNA, who are as determined to address bullying in the workplace as we are. 

“I would encourage everyone who has been affected by workplace bullying or wants to find out how to become a better ally to their colleagues who have experienced it in practice to attend our upcoming webinar and look out for further information on the training in the new year.”

Alex Taylor, BVNA president, added: “Bullying and incivility are too commonplace in the veterinary profession, which is why more awareness and action needs to be taken to tackle these issues. 

“The BVNA’s collaboration with the RCVS MMI team and the BVNA members’ advisory service will help support those affected by bullying and provide guidance on where to look for support, as well as what action they can take if they feel they are being bullied or experience incivility in the workplace. 

“I am really pleased that this serious, but important issue is at last being talked about, and I have no doubt that the support and advice given during Anti-Bullying Week and next year’s training sessions will be of great benefit to the veterinary nursing profession.”

Anyone wishing to attend the webinar can register here

BVNA formally welcomes new president

BVNA formally welcomes new president

Alex Taylor RVN will lead the organisation for 2021/22.

Outgoing BVNA president Jo Oakden RVN handed over the reins to Alex Taylor RVN on Monday (4 October) at the BVNA Congress in Telford.
 
Speaking at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting, Jo reflected on her time as president, and outlined some of the various projects the BVNA has been working on throughout COVID-19.
 
In her outgoing speech, she said: “What a year it has been. It’s not been short of challenges, but I feel very proud to have been president of the BVNA. It’s not quite the year I expected when I became junior vice president in 2019, but it has not been a year wasted.
 
 “We’ve been involved in significant movements this last year, including the Legislation Working Party, the wrap up of the first part of the VN Futures Project, and building relationships with Defra and other stakeholders.

She added: "We’ve also got our new website up and running and the members portal, making, BVNA accessible to all of its members. We are, as quoting from our 2019 AGM, standing taller.”
 
Jo is stepping aside to become senior vice president and will be supported by Charlotte Pace RVN as junior vice president. 


"We need to get better at looking after ourselves"

Following the handover of the Chain of Office, incoming president Alex Taylor delivered her welcoming address in which she praised the profession for its hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic. 
 
 “There’s no denying it has been a difficult time for all of us when many of us have faced both personal and professional struggles like never before," she said. "And while we are hopefully over the worst of the pandemic, it has changed us all forever.
 
 “The camaraderie, kindness and support shown not only by work colleagues but by fellow veterinary professionals everywhere, has helped give me the strength I needed to know, that this is still indeed an amazing profession, full of the most caring, determined and professional people you will ever meet.”
 
Alex announced that her theme for her upcoming presidential year will be ‘building resilience’ and highlighted the importance of self-care and putting your own needs first to be happier, healthier and more productive in the workplace. 
 
“We as a profession need to get better at looking after ourselves, and never has this been more apparent than in the last 18 months,” she said. “As veterinary nurses, we are caring by nature, and we almost instinctively put the needs of our patients and others before our own. 

“Whilst this is admirable, it’s not always the right thing to do. It may sound like a cliché, but you really cannot pour from an empty cup. We must get better at looking after ourselves if we want a more healthy, productive and sustainable workforce.
 
 “Please be assured that the BVNA will be doing its best over the next 12 months to ensure that our members are given the knowledge and tools that they need to become more resilient, look after themselves, and succeed both as individuals and professionals.”
 
Alex concluded the AGM by announcing her chosen charity of the year as International Cat Care. 

BVNA Award winners revealed at Congress

BVNA Award winners revealed at Congress

The awards ceremony took place at the Congress Dinner Dance.

The winners for the BVNA Awards were announced at the BVNA Congress 2021 Dinner Dance on Saturday (2 October).

Jo Oakden, BVNA president, commented on the event: “What an awards ceremony we had at the BVNA Dinner Dance 2021. It was incredible to share some of the finalists videos - they were full of passion and inspiration.”

BVNA Impact Award
The BVNA Impact Award, given to a veterinary nurse who has gone above and beyond to support and teach others in practice, was awarded to Kirsty Cavill.

The award celebrates a veterinary nurse who has encouraged positive change, discussions or improved clinical standards. The recipient also must be a positive role model or influence in veterinary nursing to both the public and profession. 

VNJ Writer of the Year Award
Aneesa Malik was given the VNJ Writer of the Year Award, for articles which encouraged discussions, positive change or an improvement of clinical standards in practice.

Inspiring Environmental Change Award
The Inspiring Environmental Change Award is given to a veterinary nurse who is a 'green champion' for the profession, someone who has demonstrated commitment to helping the environment, both in or out of practice.

This award was presented to Sarah Coton.

#Supportmesupportyou Award
Flick Caldwell was presented with the #Supportmesupportyou Award, which celebrates a veterinary nurse who has paved the way for promoting mental health support and equality within the profession.

Jo congratulated the nominees and expressed her pride in the evening: “Congratulations to all of our nominees for the BVNA Awards, it really was truly a demonstration of veterinary nurses championing veterinary nurses.

“But an even bigger congratulations to our Awards Winners, for the BVNA Awards, but also the Hills Awards and the Blue Cross Vet Nurse of the year award. Be proud, I really am - to be part of such an amazing profession that has an amazing supportive community. Well done all!”

Knowing your worth as a veterinary nurse

Knowing your worth as a veterinary nurse

Fiona Andrew shares tips for cultivating a growth mindset at BVNA Congress.

Human sustainability is defined as 'the development of skills and human capacity to support the functions of an organisation'. So how can RVNs personally incorporate these concepts into their own lives and encourage others to do the same?

Speaking in the economic stream at BVNA Congress on Sunday (3 October), Fiona Andrew RVN discussed the importance of knowing your worth as a veterinary nurse and shared some tips for cultivating a growth mindset. Her take-home message was that, in order to create a successful, satisfying and sustainable career, the change must come from within.

Fiona began by looking at some of the famous models of motivation - including Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg's 'motivator and hygiene' theory - and how these models can be applied in the context of veterinary nursing. According to Maslow, humans need to meet their basic needs first (water, food, shelter, sleep) before they can even begin to think about psychological needs, such as relationships or career development.

One way veterinary nurses can help take care of their fundamental needs, said Fiona, is to use the HALT anagram. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired and acts as a timely reminder to take a break, eat something, chat to someone, or simply just switch off for a few moments before being pushed to breaking point. “The person that needs to take care of your basic needs is you,” she said. “As RVNs, we need to meet our basic human needs in order to be sustainable”.

Fiona then discussed the issue of asking for better remuneration and shared some helpful hints and tips for those who may not feel confident in asking for more money. Her main tips were to come well prepared to the meeting with facts and figures, to thank the person you're asking for their time, to do it at the right time, and to base the request on you and you alone. If this doesn't work, ask what you do need to do to get a better salary, ask for a development review and finally, when that review will take place.

Fiona also touched on some of the things that can make individuals feel more developed as RVNs, such as the practice having a clear career pathway. Having a framework in place that provides a clear progression route for veterinary nursing team members has benefits not just for wellbeing, but can also aid concerns surrounding recruitment and retention.

Fiona concluded her lecture by calling on veterinary nurses to challenge their thinking, and to consider how to integrate reflective practice into daily practice life, adding: “there is a fantastic industry out there for veterinary nurses, and never has there been a better time to develop your career!”

RVN gives talk on overseas work

RVN gives talk on overseas work

RVN gives talk on overseas work

Michaela Vinales discussed her time in South Africa at BVNA Congress.

Veterinary nurse Michaela Vinales gave delegates an inspiring talk on her time working as an RVN overseas on day two of the BVNA Congress (3 October) in Telford.

In a bid to encourage other veterinary nurses to take advantage of overseas opportunities, Michaela spoke about her time with Vets Go Wild in South Africa, and later, the three month internship she took there.

Initially introduced to working in South Africa through the Vets Go Wild scheme, Michaela was the only student veterinary nurse on her team, with everyone else being student veterinary surgeons, which she described as 'scary.' She commented: “This actually worked in my favour - us nurses are more practical than vets, so when I went out there, I knew a lot more than they did!”

As she explained, over the course of her time with Vets Go Wild, Michaela spent time dehorning rhinos, relocating animals, doing wound management, changing tracking collars, dissection work, and marine days.

After her time in South Africa, Michaela knew she wanted to return, but there were no opportunities for veterinary nurse internships. Eventually though, it was agreed that she could be the first veterinary nurse on the internship scheme she wanted to do, and in the summer she flew back out to start work.

Michaela shared anecdotes of her time doing the internship in South Africa, beginning by introducing delegates to Sausage, a sable antelope calf, who Michaela and her team hand reared.

Sausage was found alone at three weeks old, anorexic and covered in ticks – which had led her to become anaemic. Despite a long and intense recovery, Sausage pulled through, and went on to live at the reserve as a pet. 

Michaela also shared anecdotes of her work both with wild animals and doing domestic clinic work, highlighting the many differences in resources between the UK and South Africa. With a particularly harrowing explanation of her work with rhinos who had been killed or injured for poaching. 

Whilst doing the internship, Michaela undertook a project on ticks and tick borne diseases, and created valuable research which veterinary professionals in the area still use every day. 

After leaving the internship Michaela worked alongside a veterinary surgeon she had met during her placement, who had noticed her confidence, to set up a practice, which Michaela is now head nurse and practice manager at. She explained that ultimately, her time working overseas had given her the confidence to achieve her many accomplishments.

“My time in Africa gave me the confidence to become a head nurse and practice manager at 24.”

After discussing her time in South Africa, Michaela mentioned that she would like to go overseas again and work as an RVN in other countries, and encouraged delegates to “just do it” and undertake a similar opportunity if given the chance. 

 

Discussing the future of veterinary nursing

Discussing the future of veterinary nursing

Delegates review the outcomes of the VN Futures Interim report at BVNA Congress.

The VN Futures Board hosted a Fringe Event on Saturday (2 October) at the BVNA Congress in Telford to showcase the achievements of the project so far and to explore how far the VN Profession has already come.

VN Futures is a joint RCVS and BVNA project resulting from the Veterinary Futures Initiative. The project aims to encourage more people to join the profession, enhance the role of the veterinary nurse and offer more opportunities for career progression. 

It comes after the RCVS announced the publication of the VN Futures Interim Report 2021, which provides an overview of the project's achievements over the past five years and a summary of its initiatives.

Attended by delegates both in-person and online (via live stream), the Fringe Event took the form of a general discussion, with delegates given the chance to talk in small groups about the outcomes of the report and how their career has progressed since they graduated. 

On hand to talk to delegates were Jill Macdonald (VN Futures project manager), Alex Taylor (incoming BVNA president), Charlotte Pace (incoming BVNA junior vice president), Belinda Andrews-Jones (VN Council member), and Matthew Rendle (chair of VN Council). 

The range of topics and questions discussed included -

  • How can veterinary nurses encourage vets to delegate more?
  • What part of your training prepared you best for the role?
  • How can veterinary nurses raise public awareness of the VN role?
  • What environmental policies has your practice implemented, and what else can you do?
     
On raising awareness of the role of the VN, Matthew stressed that wearing a name badge and introducing yourself to clients as a veterinary nurse is key. Some delegates highlighted the importance of charging for a veterinary nurse's time (i.e. not running free nurse clinics) and marking this on the invoice as 'professional nurse time' to show that an RVN has provided treatment to a pet.

Some delegates felt that the image of the veterinary profession has been somewhat tarnished by reports in mainstream media, with one nurse stating 'the image of the profession is not in a good place publicly, let alone in the nursing profession.' 

How RVNs are depicted on practice websites and television can also be part of the problem, said another delegate. With the public only seeing images of vet nurses holding cute, fluffy animals and not monitoring anaesthetic or getting a blood sample, for example.

On environmental policies, one group of delegates said their practice had introduced recycling bins and signs to show what items can and cannot be recycled. Creating wildlife-friendly areas outside the practice, switching lights off when leaving rooms and having a dedicated PPE waste bin (so that PPE gets incinerated rather than ending up in landfill) were also mentioned.

Other points raised concerned the availability of eductaional handouts and ensuring that information is made available to clients online rather than in the traditional pamphlet form. One delegate raised the idea of putting a small team in charge of environmental policies at your practice, while another suggested schemes such as Terracycle to recycle PPE.

The session is the first of two VN Futures Fringe events happening at the BVNA Congress this weekend. On Sunday (3 October), delegates will convene again to discuss future projects for veterinary nursing and where efforts should be focussed. 

Finalists revealed for 2021 BVNA Awards

Finalists revealed for 2021 BVNA Awards

“Let’s shout about how great Veterinary Nurses are” - Jo Oakden, BVNA president. 

The BVNA has announced the 11 finalists for its 2021 BVNA Awards, with the winners to be revealed during the Association's annual congress on Saturday (2 October).

The BVNA Impact Award

The BVNA Impact Award is bestowed to a veterinary nurse who goes the extra mile to support and teach others in practice. It honours an individual who has been a force for positive change, encouraged discussions or improved clinical standards or has been a positive role model to the public and the profession.
 
The three finalists are Kirsty Cavill, Robyn Lowe and Natalie Fisk.

VNJ Writer of the Year Award 

This award recognises articles that have encouraged discussions, positive change or improved clinical standards in practice. 

The two finalists of this award are Aneesa Malik and Emma Foreman.

Inspiring Environmental Change

This award is for a veterinary nurse who is a green champion for the veterinary profession, either inside or outside of practice, and who can demonstrate what they have accomplished as a ‘green champion.' 

The three finalists are Sarah Coton, Kirsty Shepherd and Declan Jones.

#Supportmesupportyou Award

This award recognises an inspiring veterinary nurse who has paved the way for promoting mental health support and equality within the profession.

The three finalists are Flick Caldwell, Maisie Jeanes and Claire Lackenby.

"A boost needed in such a tough year"

“This is the second year of our new BVNA Awards,” commented BVNA President, Jo Oakden. “We had so many fantastic nominations last year, it really was a boost needed in such a tough year. 

“Following last year’s success, I am so excited to see the nominations for the four categories this year. We don't get many opportunities to shout about the amazing and inspiring work individuals do, but it makes such a big impact to give that individual recognition. Let’s shout about how great Veterinary Nurses are.”

VN Futures Interim Report published

VN Futures Interim Report published

Report outlines key achievements of the first five years of the project.

The RCVS has announced the publication of the VN Futures Interim Report 2021, which provides an overview of the project's achievements over the past five years and a summary of its initiatives.

Launched in 2016, VN Futures is a joint RCVS and BVNA project resulting from the Veterinary Futures Initiative. The project aims to highlight veterinary nursing as a career, encourage more people to join the profession, enhance the role of the veterinary nurse and offer more opportunities for career progression. 

This launch of the VN Futures Interim Report marks the culmination of the initial five-year phase of the project and makes several recommendations to continue the positive steps already taken to improve the profession.

Director of veterinary nursing, Julie Dugmore, commented: “This is just the first step of the project, and we will be developing a number of new projects over the coming months and years to support this incredible profession that I’m proud to be a part of.

“We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the VN Futures project, from the initial VN Futures Action Group and the various VN Futures Working Groups to those individuals who have directly contributed content. We couldn’t have achieved as much as we have without your support. Thank you for all the time, expertise and enthusiasm you have given to the work of the project over the past five years”.

Key achievements

One activity delivered as a result of the VN Futures Project was the introduction of a School Ambassadors Development Programme. 

Launched in 2019 following feedback that many RVNs did not learn about the profession at school, the Schools programme aims to get children interested in the profession from an early age. The report outlines how activities like this are vital for ensuring veterinary nursing is a sustainable profession.

The report also covers the outcomes of the VN Futures goal of maximising veterinary nurse potential, creating new routes for post-registration qualifications and supporting the Legislative Working Party (LWP) proposed changes to introduce protections for the VN role.

The project found that many veterinary nurses were interested in meaningful career development and wanted to develop their skills in certain areas but did not always feel these were available. 

VN Futures addressed this by developing the framework for the new Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing in 2019, giving veterinary nurses the chance to study for a post-registration qualification at Level 6 or Level 7 in the discipline of their choice. 

Ideas for development

Another area highlighted by the report is the need to attract a diverse workforce. It states that 'incorporating as many different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives as possible into the profession can only benefit the team, pet owners and animal welfare.’ 

Among the ideas developed to address this include the launch of the Chronic Illness Campaign and the development of a dedicated group aimed at increasing diversity in the profession. 

Financial remunerations, lack of progression and the struggle to maintain a good work/life balance are just some of the challenges for the VN profession highlighted by the report.

"The culmination of years of hard work"

VN Futures project coordinator, Jill Macdonald, commented: “The VN Futures Interim Report is being released during a significant year for the profession. As well as celebrating the past achievements of the profession during our Diamond Jubilee celebrations, this year has shown us that we also have a lot to look forward to, as we reached 20,000 VNs on the Register and the first VN Practice Standards Scheme Assessor, Renay Rickard, was appointed. 

“The report is a culmination of years of hard work, putting in place measures to champion the veterinary nursing profession and safeguard it for the future. Through the introduction of initiatives like the School Ambassador Development Programme and the introduction of the CertAVN, to name but a few, we have put in place steps to inspire the next generation of veterinary nurses and support the training and development of people currently working in the profession."