Training to be a Veterinary Nurse

After 3 years of hard work and dedication, I am so pleased to say that I’m coming towards the end of my veterinary Nurse training and by Christmas I should be a fully qualified, registered veterinary Nurse RVN (Hopefully!!).

Training to become a veterinary nurse is extremely hard work, time consuming and mentally and physically challenging – but also the most rewarding job in the world! There are various ways to become a veterinary nurse, including an apprenticeship through a local college such as Kirkley Hall, completing a degree in veterinary nursing at a university, or as I have done , completing my training and qualification through work based learning and a part time college course based at an approved RCVS veterinary nursing college. I have worked 40 hours per week in practice at St Clair alongside my clinical coach and head nurse Natasha (who keeps me in line!), during this time I have completed my Nursing Progress Log (NPL) which is an online portfolio of over 400 nursing tasks. The Idea of the ‘NPL’ is for Natasha to demonstrate nursing skills to me, I record all my logs for each skill as I complete them in practice and once competent, I claim each skill and then my clinical coach signs each off until the portfolio is 100% complete. Once this has been verified by my college who are trained RCVS verifiers then I can apply for my final exam (Which I will be completing in October! Scary!).

Every 6-8 weeks I visited Myerscough college of Veterinary Nursing in Preston, where I lived on campus for two weeks each time and attended lectures each day. Throughout my theory learning, I was required to complete 6 written exam’s, and 5 written assignments over the course of 2 years which covers the syllabus of veterinary nurse training as well as completing my NPL– as you can imagine I have dedicated A LOT of my personal time over the past two years to revision and assignment writing! Finally I am approaching my most scary, and last exam – the dreaded OSCEs. The OSCE exam is the practical nursing exam where I complete a variety of nursing skills complying with RCVS guidelines all whilst being timed and examined. Wish me luck!

Veterinary nursing is a very caring, heart touching profession where I have a number of responsibilities… far too many to talk about! Our main duty is assisting the veterinary surgeon in practice, giving advice to clients regarding animal welfare and of course nursing sick animals ensuring they have the best care possible. I have always known since being a little girl that I wanted to work within the veterinary profession, I spent a lot of time as a child playing with my huge animal hospital, nursing the animals and driving them around in my toy animal hospital truck! I have also always been absolutely dog mad, owning a bunch of working Springer and Cocker Spaniels.

Although the past couple of years have been very straining, as working full time and completing a qualification on top is very stressful, and there have been many tears and tantrums! I can finally see the light! All my hard work and dedication is finally paying off. I couldn’t be more proud for all my hard work throughout my veterinary nurse training, and I couldn’t thank my clinical coach, Natasha and the team at St Clair Vets enough for being so supportive throughout and believing in me when I didn’t and felt like giving up. Once qualified I plan to stay within the veterinary nursing profession for a number of years, and I hope to continue learning and progressing in my career

Amy Fletcher SVN

Rachel Mclaren-  RVN Registered Veterinary Nurse/Clinical Coach

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My career in veterinary nursing began as a night nurse in a large veterinary hospital in 2008. I was then offered a position as a Student Nurse where I completed my Veterinary Nurse training at Myerscough College in Preston, Lancashine, over the course of 2.5 years. I then qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 2014.

I was offered a Veterinary Nurse position at St Clair Veterinary Care in 2015, and since joining the team I have completed my Clinical Coach qualification which allows me to train Student Veterinary Nurses. I have particular interests in small animal anaesthesia, surgical nursing and the rehabilitation of small animals.

I am currently a devoted mother to two small breed dogs who are spoiled rotten! Maisie is a Chihuahua X Jack Russel Terrier, and I have also given a loving forever home to a small cross breed dog all the way from Romania, called Ava.

In the future I hope to emigrate to Australia to join my family, and continue my role as a Veterinary Nurse down under.

Undertaking a Post-Graduate Certificate

In October 2012 I began a post-graduate certificate in advanced veterinary practice (CertAVP). This was an online modular course, broken up into 6 four-month courses. It started with the ‘Foundations of advanced practice module’; this involved aspects such as communication skills, legal issues, welfare matters and basic emergency care. This was a great refresher as it let me take the communication skills I had learnt in the 4 years of practice before starting the module, and have them tuned up with advice from professionals. It also took a more in depth look at the ‘Code of Professional Conduct’: a Royal College document advising vets on their conduct. I came away from this module with a more in depth understanding of communication, conduct and my duties to fellow professionals and clients (one of the things hard to prepare for in vet school).

The second module was the ‘Small Animal Practice’ module. This covered a range of studies; mainly medicine and surgery from first-opinion practice. This module relied on discussion with fellow students, preparing and writing case-reports, clinical discussions, analysing journal articles, and studying and revising lectures from the online university provider (Liverpool University). Although in day to day practice I don’t write case reports or look up journals on all my patients, it really helped my thinking process, especially when dealing with a more difficult case or when I had to research subjects I wasn’t familiar with. The analytical skills taken from ‘Journal Club’, where we took articles apart in regards the clinical context, statistics and information, has been very useful when I’m trying to wade through information from drug reps, laboratory reports and complicated cases.

The next four modules were the more advanced clinical modules, each taking four months. There was a range of modules to choose from. I quite like medicine, so I decided to focus mainly on this as it helps me more in my first opinion practice, even during straight-forward consults. I also sat an Anaesthesia & Analgesia module before starting the medicine modules, this was a great way to brush up on my anaesthetic care, and understanding pain medicine and critical care for patients.

The medicine modules covered a wide range of matters in-depth: I started with infectious diseases, neurology and oncology, then moved to the next module of cardiology, respiratory medicine, haematology and endocrinology. The last medicine module covered gastroenterology, urogenital, critical-care and nutrition. These modules have been a great refresher on my vet school learning, as well as updating knowledge and improving my analytical thinking and ability to deal with a more complicated case. With a CertAVP, I’m not a medicine specialist, but hopefully I can benefit my patients more than before with this extra knowledge. Over the coming months I’m considering sitting the ‘synoptic exam’, basically an exam on the 3 medicine modules, which will be a nice (or not so nice) way to revise all the content and bring it all together!