Veterinary nursing seems to be a a popular career choice for many young equestrians. A lot of people I work with/know either have horses or are interested in riding. On Instagram especially I get asked a lot of similar questions as to what qualifications you need, how I got my training placement and what it is actually like working as a veterinary nurse. So I thought I would put a blog together on the most frequent questions I am asked and hopefully if you're thinking about the career route then this will help you!
Veterinary nursing isn't something I had my mind set on from a young age, I decided I was interested while studying A-levels in sixth form. I began to message several veterinary practices in the area if I could participate in work experience – an essential to see if it's for you and also to add onto your CV. When applying for training placements this is looked at closely. If you've been to several practices it shows you are interested an committed. Usually practices required you to be at least 16 years old to do this, but some require you to be 18 or over.
If you are lucky enough to organise some work experience then make sure you are prepared. You want to impress these people so they can give you a good word, allow you to come back, or sometimes even will consider you for a student position. Show your interest by asking lots of questions (make sure you pick appropriate times to do this), writing important information down in a notebook and asking staff how they have found working there and if they have any tips for you. We've all been through this point so everyone is usually happy to help!
The next part is the hard part. You need to find a practice to take you on as student. For this you will need to send in a CV and cover letter to pretty much any practice you can find. You may have to think about travelling further afield than you originally planned. The qualifications that are required are 5 A*- C grades at GCSE. There are also other pathway qualifications available. Personally I would advise trying to get A-Levels or a Diploma before going into the Vet Nursing course as the workload is a lot to cope with coming straight from GCSEs and many practices would prefer students over 18.
If you manage to get a training placement then you just need to enrol on a college course. If you're planning on doing the Degree in Veterinary nursing at University then they usually find placements for you, but the training is quite different to the course I did so I'm not the best person to educate you on that.
I'm not going to lie, the training it hard. I remember sitting in the first ever lesson at college thinking what have I let myself in for?! Work never stops when you get home. There's always revision, assignments and your training log to complete. But if you're committed it is all worth it in the end. The full time college course is 2years long. Usually it takes 2.5years+ to be qualified. Once you've passed all your exams and final practicals it takes a while for the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) to process your application. (It took 5 months for me!) Once that's all completed you receive a certificate and a badge and your name goes on the RCVS register. You can see mine here : http://www.rcvs.org.uk/find-a-nurse/search/?filter-choice=name&filter-keyword=Faye+Robinson&filter-specialistices=&filter-advanced-practitioner=&search=true
So what is it like to be a Veterinary Nurse? It can be busy, stressful, emotionally and physically demanding, the salary probably isn't what you hoped for and you have to deal with pressurised situations. But if you can push through all the negatives it is so rewarding. You work so closely as a team that amazing friendships grow. Being part of a close team you can trust is what makes you be able to carry on through thick and thin. Of course there's also the animal patients that you feel such a sense of achievement (and often relief) when you help them recover. The clients, although difficult at times, can light up your day when they're grateful for your help (and often bring you chocolate goodies!). And there is the ability to not only travel in this country, but to work abroad helping in animal charities all around the world. The possibilities and pathways from the job are endless. It's all worth it.
The RCVS website is incredibly helpful if you want anymore information on the Veterinary profession. If you're interested make sure you check it out!
I hope I've helped answer any questions you may have on the profession. However if you have any more specific questions just drop me a private message on my Instagram @faye_and_annie and I will be happy to help!
Faye (RVN) xx