Welfare is at the heart of everything I do as a vet nurse

Adina Valentine

Ceva Animal Welfare Nurse of the Year award

It’s a good feeling to be nominated for an award, especially when it comes from your colleagues, and actually winning the Ceva Animal Welfare Nurse of the Year award was a career highlight. Animal welfare was the reason I became a vet nurse, and I’m proud that my work has been recognised.

Passion for animals

My passion for animals began while I was a groom with an equine charity, the Horse and Pony Protection Association. At the time, I was also running a small-scale reptile fostering service from my home.

Loving animals was one thing, but my interest quickly turned into a passion. Although I never really had a career plan in mind, I had an inquisitive nature and I actively pursued opportunities where I could fulfil my curiosity. I also wanted to learn as much as I could. I began with a national diploma in animal care and management, which led me neatly into vet nursing.

Nursing certificates

After graduating, I gained certificates in nursing exotic animals and small animal emergency and critical care. I even did a mammal rescue course with British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

Working abroad

Having achieved these additional qualifications, backed by experience, I decided to travel. I went to Sulawesi in Indonesia to volunteer a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre and also helped set up a veterinary clinic there.

Over the next few years, if I wasn’t working as a vet nurse (VN) in a UK practice, I was likely to be volunteering at rescue and rehabilitation centres abroad or participating in trap-neuter-release projects for feral cats and street dogs.

It was a privilege having the chance to work with a variety of species, in large zoological collections and rescue centres, or small charities and vet practices.

"Animal welfare was the reason I became a vet nurse, and I’m proud that my work has been recognised"

It’s impossible to travel to the poorest parts of the world to without experiencing frustration about animal suffering because of preventable problems. However, it is these experiences that have moulded me. I have learned how to work on a shoestring: for example, adapting available resources to make objects that improve clinical standards in the field. I’ve gained skills in effective communication, helping educate people how to care for animals. And I’ve learned how to encourage sustainability within small projects.

Life back in the UK

In 2013, I settled back in the UK. I met my life partner who is long-suffering and very tolerant (even encouraging) of my desire to travel and work abroad. Since then, I’ve worked in practice and studied for the certificate in anaesthesia. And I recently started a new chapter of my life – as a mum – my son was born on 7 June.

In our busy lives, we often forget to appreciate the wonderful things VNs do. I still want to make a difference and have a positive impact on animal welfare, and undoubtedly travel will be involved. I’d also like to get back into exotic or zoo work some day.

Education makes a real difference to animals and being part of the profession puts us in a strong position to promote animal welfare in a practical way, such as coaching the next generation of VNs, promoting best practice and helping to provide high quality CPD.

Vet nursing is a wonderful career that offers a wide scope to specialise in many fields.

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