More candidates than ever before have come forward to run in the 2021 RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council election, the RCVS has confirmed.
The RCVS extended its nomination period to the end of February after receiving just one nomination for the VN Council election - Susan Howorth RVN - who has automatically been re-elected to VN Council for another three-year term.
Fourteen candidates have since stepped up to compete for the one available place. They are:
- Samantha Jayne Anderson
- Kirsten Cavill
- Rebecca Jane Clark
- Sophie Louise Connolly
- Olivia Jade Dunlop
- Thomas Griffiths
- Daniel James Hogan
- Steven David Patrick Johnson
- Carly Kilby
- Donna Leigh Lewis
- Lee Thomas Vaughan
- Francesca Ware
- Diana Elizabeth Joyce Wilson
- Tania Yelland.
“To my fellow members of the profession, please do make sure to engage with the election and cast your vote. VN Council not only makes important decisions on matters relating to veterinary nursing training & education and registration but, along with the British Veterinary Nursing Association, also helps set the direction of travel for the VN Futures project which is looking at how our profession can be a vibrant, rewarding and sustainable one, now and in the future.”
Voting commence online the week beginning 15 March 2021, when eligible members of the profession will receive an email from Civica Election Services. The deadline closes at 5 pm on Friday, 23 April 2021.
More information about the election and each of the candidates is available at rcvs.org.uk/vnvote21
The Department for Education (DfE) recently announced, as part of its Skills for Jobs White Paper, that it wanted to “put an end to the illusion that a degree is the only route to success and a good job and that further and technical education is the second-class option”.
As the white paper looks to align education with the needs of local employers, programmes such as employer-led apprenticeships and training are set to receive more government support. This can be good news for the many veterinary practices committed to vocational training.
Karen Lee, Head of Learning at Central College of Animal Studies (CCOAS) said: “Our apprenticeship programme for student veterinary nurses is now a popular option. Students are employed in one of our approved training practices alongside attending college.”
Shortages of registered veterinary nurses has been an issue for the veterinary industry in recent years and there may be several knock-on effects from the Covid-19 pandemic that will cause further delays in providing qualified staff in the workplace. It appears that the government has removed several of the previous hurdles and access to vocational training is now more accessible; as well as being highly valued by employers.
Karen agrees that this a positive step and encourages anyone interested in veterinary nursing to get in contact. “Veterinary nursing continues to be a highly sought-after, rewarding career choice and we are delighted to offer more than just one route to qualification.”
More information on the Skills for Jobs white paper can be found here. The Central College of Animal Studies can be contacted by calling 01359 243405 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The RCVS has given the go-ahead for registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) to become Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) assessors.
At the January meeting of RCVS Council (21 January), board members also approved a new Equine Emergency Services Clinic accreditation.
The change means that RVNs who have at least five years' professional experience will be eligible to become PSS assessors.
PSS Assessors are employed by the RCVS to conduct visits to practices that wish to join the Scheme, undergoing re-accreditation assessment, or have applied for one or more of the PSS Awards to ensure they meet the required standards and criteria.
VN Council chair Matthew Rendle, who is also a member of RCVS Council, said: “I am delighted to see that there is now a pathway to recruit veterinary nurses as PSS Assessors and hope that many of my VN colleagues will take up this opportunity to apply to join the excellent team responsible for ensuring that the Scheme’s stringent standards are met.
“We know that, on a practice-by-practice basis, veterinary nurses often play a big role in helping to coordinate and ensure that the requirements of the Practice Standards Scheme are met, for example, by preparing their team for the assessment, liaising with the RCVS and the Assessor and making sure all standards are complied with in advance. It is great to see that the crucial role they often play in meeting standards is reflected in opening up the ability to become PSS Assessors.”
RCVS president Mandisa Greene, who chairs the Practice Standards Group, added: “This is such an important development for the veterinary nursing profession whose role in the Practice Standards Scheme has long been recognised as invaluable. This decision also opens up new career advancement opportunities for the profession as well, which I’m sure is very welcome.”
RVNs will be invited to apply to become PSS Assessors when the next round of recruitment takes place.
Besides approving the role of RVNs as PSS Assessors, RCVS Council also approved a new Equine Emergency Services Clinic accreditation to help incorporate the emerging business model of veterinary practices that provide ambulatory emergency services for equids.
The new accreditation would require these practices to meet the applicable PSS Core Standards, plus the requirements contained in an additional Equine Emergency Services module. Full details of the requirements are expected to be published in due course.
The BVNA has launched a new online learning resource for veterinary nurses.
Vimeo On Demand, available through BVNA's website, broadcasts new CPD videos as well as interviews and lectures. The channel also contains a CPD resource library, recordings from BVNA's This Is Us event, and will be updated with monthly CPD online events.
Jo Oakden, BVNA president said: “We're really excited about the launch of our CPD Video On Demand channel. This is a really great way to watch the CPD that is relevant to you without CPD subscriptions.
“COVID has encouraged us to look at ways we can diversify to share our professional content with our members and non-members: we have all had to become flexible in the way we work, and our busy schedules often mean we cannot always commit to a specific time for a CPD session.”
BVNA Members can watch most of the On Demand content for free in the BVNA members' portal, including all BVNA COVID videos. The professional content is available to all at a charge of £8 per view, however, users pay a reduced price of £5 to participate in the live recording of the CPD sessions.
Jo added: “There are loads of reasons to become a BVNA member, we are working tirelessly in the background to make sure we represent your voices, help develop our profession and provide you with the education and support you need to excel in your area of our profession.”
Emma Gerrard will represent the views of members in the Cymru/Wales region
The BSAVA has announced that, for the first time ever, a veterinary nurse has been appointed chair of a BSAVA Regional Committee and a council representative.
Emma Gerrard will take over from Kate O'Sullivan as chair of the Cymru/Wales region committee in April 2021. She has been a member of the committee since 2013 and has also served on the BSAVA Membership Development Committee. She also recently became the new Editor of the Pocketbook for Vet Nurses.
Ms Gerrard is a registered animal medicines advisor for companion and farm animals, a clinical coach and a tutor for Oncore.
In her role as a council representative she will ensure the views of members in the Cymru/Wales region are represented in council meetings and in discussions with Trustees and members of the Management Team at Woodrow House.
She said: “Being appointed the first VN Council Representative and Regional Chair is a massive achievement for myself and my nursing colleagues. It hasn’t been possible for a VN to fill a Regional Officer role until now.
“I know how long and hard colleagues have worked in order to make this happen and, for that, I am grateful. As the Committee Chair, I would really like to fly the flag for nurses I hope to inspire and empower nurses to join the Association and illustrate what opportunities are available.”
BSAVA president Professor Ian Ramsey said: “Nurses have already served the Association with distinction in many of our Committees for several years and this is another step towards recognising the importance of nurses within the veterinary team and therefore within the Association. I look forward to seeing more nurses coming forward to help shape the Association in the future.”
Image (c) BSAVA.
Hard-working nurses and nursing teams celebrated during difficult year
Veterinary nurses who have shown outstanding dedication and commitment to supporting pets and owners have been recognised as part of the annual Hill's Pet Nutrition Nurse Awards.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who entered our awards during this very ‘unusual’ year,” said Fi Marjoram, nurse programme coordinator at Hill's Pet Nutrition.
“It has been a challenging year for everyone, but as expected, the commitment and dedication shown by vet nurses around the country has not wavered and we are thrilled to give them the recognition they deserve.”
The finalists and winners in each category are as follows:
The Senior Support Nurse Award
Laura-Jean Hammersley of White Cross Vets, Coulby Newham – winner
Jane White of Abbey House Veterinary Hospital, Morely
Becky Smith of Wilton House Vets, Guisborough.
The Managing Weight with Excellence Award
The nursing team from Heathside Veterinary Surgery, Southampton – winners
Alex John of St James’ Vets, Swansea
Becky Smith of Wilton House, Guisborough.
Hill's Pet Nutrition also announced the Canine and Feline Slimmers of the Year, who undertook incredible weight loss journeys across 2020.
The winner in the canine category was Willow Mason from Guisborough. She entered the awards in 2019 and has lost 40 per cent of her start weight since then. Overall Willow went from 27.5kg to 16.5kg with the help of Becky Smith from Wilton House Vets.
The nursing team at Pennard Vets in Allington helped feline winner Timmy Howell to go from 14.4kg to a more manageable 6.9kg. Overall the cat has lost an amazing 48 per cent of his start weight.
For more details on how to apply for the 2021 awards, please speak to your local Hill’s Pet Nutrition territory manager.
A new nutrition course combining online lectures, practical teaching and variety of resources and quizzes has been added to the BSAVA's popular Veterinary Nurse Merit Awards (VNMA).
VNMA's are designed to offer RVNs in primary care practice the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills without the commitment of a certificate or diploma. To achieve an award, students must demonstrate their understanding of the subject through a final assessment.
Beginning in March 2021, the Nutrition VNMA will be led by Georgina Woods RVN who holds the Canine and Feline Veterinary Health Nutrition Certificate and the American Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) Nutrition Certificate. Following the completion of this course, delegates will be able to:
- discuss methods of obtaining a thorough nutritional history, extracting all relevant clinical information and how to holistically appraise the situation
- recognise the different techniques for building good communication with the pet owner and its importance for attaining compliance with your nutritional recommendation
- discuss the role of nutrition in both life stage and clinic disease management, where nutrition will play a pivotal role
- gain a more in-depth understanding for non-standard diets and how to manage differences of opinion
- describe the many ways in which rabbit nutrition differs from that of the cat or dog, and how their anatomy relates to their different essential nutritional requirements.
BSAVA's head of education, Lucie Goodwin, said: “We are pleased to be able to add this important and highly topical course to our expanding repertoire of learning resources for RVNs. Practices really recognise the value of VNMAs and are continuing to send their nursing teams on multiple courses.”
Upon completion of the course, RVNs will receive a BSAVA Veterinary Nurse Merit Award in Nutrition along with a certificate and badge. For further information visit the BSAVA's website or email email@example.com
Event will celebrate newly-qualified VNs with presentations from VN Golden Jubilee Award winners.
More than 70 veterinary nurses (VNs) are set to be welcomed to the profession later this month in a special virtual ceremony hosted by the RCVS.
Taking place on Thursday, 12 November at 7.30 pm, the event will open with an address by VN Council chair Matthew Rendle and RCVS President Mandisa Greene, after which Matthew will take all the veterinary nurses present through their professional declarations.
In addition to reading out the names of all the new registrants, Mr Rendle will read out the names of 10 RVNs who will be collecting their Diplomas in Advanced Veterinary Nursing. Special recognition will also be paid to Liverpool RVN Judith Montgomery for her long-standing contribution to the profession.
Matthew Rendle said: “This will be my first formal event as Chair of VN Council and it’s a great honour for me to be welcoming these newly trained veterinary nurses into our great profession and sharing with them my hopes and wishes for veterinary nurses and how they can play their part in its development and its future.”
The event will include two speeches from previous recipients of the Veterinary Nursing Golden Jubilee Award – the highest honour that can be bestowed on an RVN by the College. Jane Devaney, who won the award in 2019, will speak about the development of her career in veterinary nursing, while 2014 award-winner Hayley Walters will discuss her international career, which involved nursing bears rescued from China's bear bile trade.
Matthew added: “Our guest speakers Jane and Hayley also demonstrate just how diverse a career veterinary nursing can be and that it can encompass teaching, mentoring, international outreach and clinical practice and I hope those attending will be inspired to think about all the different paths their veterinary nursing qualification can take them down.”
The evening will conclude with an update on the VN Futures Initiative by RCVS Director of Veterinary Nursing Julie Dugmore. Julie will outline the project, which aims to identify and address the challenges veterinary nursing is likely to face over the coming years, and explain how the newly-qualified nurses can get involved.
To watch the event live visit the RCVS website. A recording of the ceremony will be made available for those who are unable to attend.
Blogger and RSPCA vet nurse awarded for dedication to animal welfare
Pet charity Blue Cross has named veterinary nurse Chloe Mackintosh as its ‘Vet Nurse of the Year 2020’, for her commitment to animal welfare and passion for charity work.
As well as working full-time as a veterinary nurse at RSPCA in Harmsworth, North London, Chloe Mackintosh assists in a range of fundraising activities and also runs a blog titled ‘The Charity Vet Nurse’. She uses this platform to raise awareness of the profession and to encourage other veterinary nurses to consider a career in charity.
David Catlow, director of veterinary clinical services at Blue Cross said: “We are delighted to recognise the dedication and hard work Chloe puts into both her job and wider animal welfare.
“The Vet Nurse of the Year Award is to showcase those vet nurses who go above and beyond, and Chloe certainly meets this criteria. In what has been a really challenging year for all vet nurses across the UK, we congratulate Chloe on her much-deserved award.”
Miss Mackintosh was presented with her award during a virtual awards ceremony, held on Saturday 10 October as part of the BVNA’s This is Us event.
She said: “I was shocked to find out I had been nominated, and absolutely taken aback to find out in the same phone call I had won!
“It’s such an honour to win something of this stature as the Blue Cross is a charity I admire immensely. My passion and niche is charity work and I really mean it when I say this has made my year.”
Image (c) Blue Cross.
This is Us 2020 event recognises excellence in the profession
The three winners of this year’s BVNA Awards were announced during a virtual awards evening held as part of the association’s This is Us 2020 event, which celebrates excellence within the profession.
The awards evening was livestreamed on Saturday 10 October via the BVNA’s Facebook page, and directly to delegates through Zoom.
The evening began with a keynote speech from Dr Jane Goodhall DBE, before Jo Oakden, BVNA’s junior vice president, announced the award winners.
The BVNA award winners are:
- St Francis Award – for a nurse who has gone above and beyond for their team, their patients, and the profession as a whole over the past year. Awarded to Christine Robinson.
- Help in the Community Award – for a nurse who has gone the extra mile to help animal owners and their clinical teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Awarded to Bethany Scott.
- VNJ Writer of the Year Award - for the author of an article written in VNJ which has inspired positive change, discussion or has improved clinical standards in practice. Awarded to Courtney Scales.
Mrs Oakden says: ““It was fantastic to see all the worthy nominees and finalists for our new BVNA awards and Hills and Blue Cross awards.
“The high standards, dedication and resilience of our profession was demonstrated with all of our nominees and winners of the awards, showing they can adapt and overcome to be champions in our profession to help educate and inspire those within and outside of our profession.
“It was a huge honour to be able to present these awards and still keep the celebratory feel in these unusual times. A huge congratulations to all our winners.”
Images (c) BVNA.
New educational tool aims to boost vet nurses’ skills
A new online resource, aimed at both qualified and student veterinary nurses, has been released by the University of Edinburgh to mark Veterinary Nurses Day.
The resource, titled Veterinary Nursing Skills, covers the principles and practice of nursing companion animals in a clinical setting. It is provided by the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education at the university’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.
Content included in the module will highlight how focusing on the interactions between nursing care, animal health and patient behaviour can improve patient welfare and clinical outcomes.
The university hopes that veterinary technicians and assistants will also benefit from the new material, which includes downloadable fact sheets, video tutorials and interactive quizzes.
Topics covered include:
- clinical skills
- animal handling and behaviour
- emergency and critical care
- animal welfare
- inpatient care.
Hayley Walters, the Royal (Dick) School’s welfare and anaesthesia nurse, said that the aim of the new resource was to provide support to veterinary nurses across the world who may not have access to the same professional training resources as others.
Ms Walters added: “Knowledge and compassionate veterinary nurses improve patient welfare, so we want to share some of our educational and animal welfare expertise with a global audience, this new resource will help to promote the role of the veterinary nurse as a para-professional who is an essential part of the veterinary team.”
For more information and to register for free, please visit the university’s website.
Winners to be announced during virtual event
The BVNA has announced the nine finalists for the annual BVNA Awards, with the winners to be announced during a virtual awards evening during the BVNA This is Us 2020 event.
The award categories and finalists are:
- St Francis Award, for a veterinary nurse who has demonstrated exemplary dedication to their team, their patients, and the profession over the past year. Finalists are Christine Robinson, Jade Kelly, and Lynsey Tindall
- Help in the Community Award, presented to nurses who have gone the extra mile to help animal owners and their clinical teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finalists are Beth Scott, Chloe Mai Burrows, and Carla Finzel
- VNJ Writer of the Year Award, for authors of articles written in VNJ which have inspired positive change, discussion or have improved clinical standards in practice. Finalists are Carol A Gray, Courtney Scales, and Ashleigh Thurston.
Jo Hinde, BVNA president says: “I am thrilled at the launch of BVNA’s new awards. We have an amazing opportunity to highlight the huge dedication, passion and inspiration veterinary nurses bring to the profession.
“It is always uplifting to celebrate and recognise those who have excelled, and all of our finalists are very deserving of the accolade.”
The awards evening begins at 6.30pm on Saturday 10 October and will be streamed live on the BVNA Facebook page, as well as to delegates via Zoom. World-renowned chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall DBE is the keynote speaker for the event, and the awards presentations will follow.
Image (c) BVNA.
New categories to highlight excellence in the profession
The BVNA has announced the launch of three new awards to celebrate inspirational individuals in veterinary nursing as part of its virtual Awards Evening at the ‘This is Us’ online event.
The new awards that will be presented during the Awards Evening are:
- St Francis Award – for a nurse who has shown extraordinary dedication to their team, their patients, and the profession in the last 12 months
- Help in the Community Award – recognising nurses who have excelled in their efforts to help animal owners and their clinical teams during the COVID-19 pandemic
- VNJ Writer of the Year Award – for articles written in VNJ which have inspired positive change, discussion or have improved clinical standards in practice.
The ‘This is Us’ event takes place from 9 to 11 October and the virtual Awards Evening will be held on Saturday 10 October at 6.30pm. The ceremony will be livestreamed on the BVNA Facebook page and Zoom. Dr Jane Goodall will be the keynote speaker for the evening.
Jo Hinde, BVNA President says: “I am thrilled to be hosting this year’s award ceremony and urge everyone to join in by nominating and watching the ceremony live.
“We have chosen 3 brand new award categories that really highlight those individuals who are truly inspirational and as such, I am absolutely delighted that Dr Jane Goodall DME will be our guest speaker for the evening.
“She is the epitome of inspirational, compassion and kindness – all of which are values that veterinary nurses hold dear. This really is an event that’s not to be missed!”
For more information and to nominate please visit the BVNA website.
Image (c) Stuart Clarke.
Nominations are now open for the Blue Cross 'Veterinary Nurse of the Year' award which pays recognition to the UK's veterinary nurses and the invaluable support they provide to their teams, clients and pets.
The award is bestowed to a veterinary nurse who not only cares for sick and injured pets but has also gone the extra mile to improve pet welfare in their community. It will be presented virtually to the winner during the BVNA's 'This is Us' event on Saturday 10 October.
Last year's award was won by deputy head nurse Danielle Pountain from Pool House Veterinary Hospital in Lichfield. Danielle commented: “I was overwhelmed to receive the call that I had been selected as the Blue Cross Vet Nurse of the Year.
“It felt like an unbelievable honour to have been considered worthy for an award for doing a job I love to do and I felt like being recognised for my achievements and contribution to veterinary nurses, validated all of my hard work, enthusiasm and dedication. I am grateful to everyone for giving me such a great title and award.”
Anyone can make a nomination for veterinary nurse of the year, including pet owners and veterinary practices. David Catlow, Blue Cross director of veterinary clinical services, said:
“With vet practices across the UK having had to rethink how we deliver our services as a result of COVID, delivering only emergency and essential services for the duration of lockdown, it has been a particularly challenging year for the whole industry. Many vet nurses working in veterinary practice have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment going ‘above and beyond’ in these extraordinary times.”
The nomination form can be found the Blue Cross website at bluecross.org.uk/BVNA2020. Nominations close on Friday, 18 September 2020.
Winners nominated for going above and beyond their call of duty.
Five veterinary nurses working in an array of clinical settings have been announced as the winners of Animalcare’s Vet Nurse Heroes competition.
The competition, which took place during Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month (VNAM) (May 2020), called on team members to nominate their nurse colleagues who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a flood of great entries, the winners of the competition have been announced as:
Claire Defries, VN programme leader at the College of Animal Welfare
Claire was praised for the support she gave to vet nurses in training during the lockdown, enabling third-year students to sit their final exams. Besides developing online training, virtually overnight, Claire was also commended for the pastoral support she has provided to students during the lockdown.
Ellie Tappenden, Albyn Veterinary Centre, Broxburn
Ellie’s nomination pays recognition to her work to create a local support network with other vets. During the lockdown, Ellie worked long shifts before delivering regular medicines and ensuring that her self-isolating clients were coping. She also organised a collection of spare PPE for the local hospital, all while managing her pain from a degenerative disease, Ehlers Danlos, which she fights daily.
Tammy Jarvis, RSPCA Block Fen Animal Centre, March
Tammy gave exceptional support to all 105 patients at the RSPCA centre and the veterinary surgeon. With other staff furloughed, she took on additional duties, including maintenance and ground management, and recently started sewing face masks for her colleagues.
Bethany Lavill, Etwall Vets, Derby
Bethany was nominated for coming in after hours to check up on patients and for collecting animals from clients who are self-isolating. Nominators said that she had gone above and beyond the call of duty on many occasions and still asks what more she can do to help.
Shannon Mills, Leeds Colton Vets4Pets
Shannon willingly covered a range of roles throughout lockdown and recently nursed a critical care rabbit throughout the day while overseeing reception. She also passed her mock exam with flying colours during the lockdown, all despite a recent diagnosis of epilepsy.
The winners each received a gift box, filled to the brim with delicious food and drink.
“We wanted our competition to highlight the fantastic contribution vet nurses around the country are making to their colleagues, clients and patients – but the number and quality of entries hugely exceeded our expectations," commented Animalcare product manager, James Beaumont.
“At such a difficult time, the positivity, passion and care that each nomination exuded made reading them a moving experience and selecting only five as winners was no easy task. We thank all those who took the time to nominate their amazing colleagues and thank every vet nurse who was nominated for their extraordinary commitment and dedication.”
Image (C) Animalcare UK.
Rachel Liddell went out of her way to help her blind and deaf clients.
A veterinary nursing student from Ayrshire has been praised for going 'above and beyond' during the coronavirus pandemic by helping humans as well as animals.
Twenty-year-old Rachel Liddell is studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) while working at The Oaks Veterinary Centre in Saltcoats.
When a blind client had to have his guide dog put to sleep, Rachel – who was writing sympathy cards – realised that he wouldn't be able to read the card if she sent one.
Wanting the client to receive a card that was personal that he could read, Rachel contacted the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and asked if they could make a brail insert to send in a card.
Rachel also extended her kindness to a deaf client who brought his dog in for vaccinations. Upon realising the client was deaf, she typed out what she wanted to say to the owner on a sign language app. When she took the dog back to the car park, she then signed an overview of the consultation.
Vet Sarah Lamont, who works with Rachel at The Oaks, said: “We have a lot of talented nurses at our practice but there is something very special about Rachel. She is far beyond her years in terms of her nursing skills but also has a special quality about her that you cannot teach.
“She goes above and beyond for people and I have noticed this even more so as we have been going through the challenges of Covid-19. She has offered to deliver medication and food to people who are shielding and can’t get out, even if this means doing it in her free time. Nothing is a bother to her.”
Rachel, who has been unable to sit her final exams due to Covid-19, said: “I have always been passionate about helping animals and being part of the first line of care. Veterinary nursing is so rewarding and being able to nurse a patient back to full health and return it to its family is an amazing feeling.
“I have really enjoyed being in practice and feeling part of a very close team as well as learning something new every day to further my knowledge and help each and every patient.”