Gavin Goldsbrough on being a newly qualified and newly registered vet nurse

Gavin Goldsbrough
Some people aspire to be a footballer or a famous singer, perhaps even as astronaut but, for as long as I can remember, my dream job had always been to become a veterinary nurse (VN). It offered the perfect combination of working with animals while being part of a well-respected profession.

Growing knowledge in animal management

At school, my primary focus was to ensure that I gained the relevant qualifications to turn my dream into a reality. My decision to complete an animal management course didn’t go down well with everyone, but I was confident that learning the practical aspects of caring for animals was the best route for me.

I also got a Saturday job working in a dog grooming parlour. This gave me my first experience of working with people’s pets in a team that was focused on caring for animals. It was a great way to learn how to communicate with pets and their owners.

Training placement

While completing the Level 3 Animal Management qualification, I was offered a work experience placement at Eden Hill Veterinary Surgery, in West Pelton, County Durham, a branch of Westway Veterinary Group and a Vet Partners practice.

Not only was it a privilege to have the opportunity to find out what VNs really do but, as it turned out, it led to me being offered a training placement. It came at just the right moment as I’d hit a low point in my search, so ending the uncertainty was a real thrill.

"Qualifying and registering as a RVN was a true high point"

The training that followed was built on the animal management knowledge and skills I already had. I enjoyed exploring and learning about new and exciting topics.

Training doesn’t come without challenges, such as balancing the demands of college while learning practical skills in a practice environment, as well as developing confidence and maintaining a work-life balance.

BSc in Vet Nursing

Thanks to the fantastic team at Eden Hill and the excellent support from my friends and family, I completed my initial VN training through a foundation degree with Askham Bryan College in York. This was a three-year course, which I followed up with a top-up year to gain a BSc in vet nursing, boosting my experience of working with exotic animals and in the field of emergency care.

Registering as a RVN

Qualifying and registering as a RVN was a true high point. It demonstrated that my hard work and focus had been worthwhile, and I could now concentrate on career development.

For me, the best aspects of my job are the variety of roles and responsibilities I have. No two working days are the same and almost anything can happen at any time – and frequently does.

Although maintaining a work-life balance while working in practice can be a challenge, I feel it’s important to meet up with friends, as well as my peers from work and college on a regular basis.

"My training (both theory and practical) has provided an excellent foundation for future learning"

I particularly enjoy consulting, teaching clients about key aspects of animal health care and welfare. It’s one way that VNs can maintain their professional accountability.

In spite of the many positive aspects of the role, there is more that I want to learn. I plan to further develop my consulting skills. Radiography and assisting in surgery are also particular fields of interest.

My training (both theory and practical) has provided an excellent foundation for future learning and I’m grateful for the support and guidance provided by the dedicated and inspirational teams I work with.

However, as a newly qualified and registered vet nurse, I acknowledge that the real learning actually begins here.

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