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Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month 2017

Every May the BVNA hosts

Cat with vet nurseEvery May the BVNA puts on National Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month, during this month we hold competitions, social media events, and attend the National Pet Show. Each year we get more and more student veterinary nurses, nurses, practices and supporters joining in, even making videos now to show how fantastic veterinary nurses are. However, why do we as BVNA still feel the need to do this each year? The harsh reality is the general population still does not know what a veterinary nurse is and what we are capable of doing.

During VNFutures, RCVS and BVNA held a series of engagement meetings where we asked veterinary nurses their thoughts on the profession. Time and time again, public perception of our role was an issue. Anecdotal evidence still shows that some members of the pet owning public believe veterinary nurses exist as we are ‘failed vets’, not quite clever enough to meet the grade, or my personal favourite, ‘going to be a vet when I grow up’. Well speaking now, even though I am well into my thirty’s if I am supposed to end up a vet, I am still yet to grow up!

Development of a profession

The past fifteen years has seen the veterinary nursing role develop into a true profession, with accountability for our actions, mandatory CPD, a disciplinary committee and the Royal Charter making us official associate members of the RCVS. These milestones have been celebrated and are thought of with pride, but very much within the professions. What we need now is to promote these out to the public in order to develop understanding and in turn respect. So, when TV production companies are looking at veterinary practices, maybe it is the ‘Super Veterinary Nurse’ or the ‘Yorkshire Veterinary Nurse’ that can be the ones headlining in the future. 

The younger generation seeking information and guidance on careers working with animals should be steered towards both professions. Advice to this generation will then start to filter through that working in a veterinary profession means you can be a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse, similar to the choice you make working with human health care, one role is not the second prize for not achieving the other, instead both are respected and well thought of professions.

However, what we also need to call for is for veterinary nurses themselves to be promoting their own talents and knowledge. Let’s drop ‘I’m JUST a veterinary nurse’ and embrace that you ‘are a registered veterinary nurse’. You all have a wealth of knowledge and a passion for animal welfare, do not be afraid to speak out for what you believe in. Animal care is a whole practice team effort, everyone plays their part and veterinary nurses are a key member.

VNFutures development groups are working hard to continually develop this amazing profession so that it is fit for the future. A new outlook on career structure, post-registration qualifications, education of student veterinary nurses and schedule 3 are all being considered. veterinary nursing will continue to evolve. 

Nursing is a vocation and a passion, it is different to that of a veterinary surgeon, running parallel to each other whilst attempting to achieve similar outcomes. Both professions must continue to develop a mutual respect for each other’s separate skills set and promote both of these, in turn, to show we are #team vet 

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