Working for a corporate provided an unexpected opportunity for advancement
I remember the day I discovered the existence of veterinary nursing as a career. I was 13 years old and from that day on, I knew it was what I wanted to do.
Having completed my vet nurse (VN) training, I joined Rogers, Brock and Barker – a four-branch practice – in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. I was lucky to work in a supportive practice that promoted internal development. It allowed me to become a clinical coach and then head nurse, and I spent the next 12 years leading a fantastic team of over 30 VNs.
My career plan – as far as I had one – was on track. My next ambition was to lead a team, which would allow me to share my knowledge and experience with others. At the time, I believed my natural progression would be into practice management as it’s an area of practice life that interests me.
Then, in 2015, the practice was acquired by CVS. The following year, our then clinical director was promoted within CVS. I was promoted to practice director, which offered new challenges and opportunities within the practice and the wider CVS business.
We successfully launched our own out-of-hours service in 2018 and achieved RCVS Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) accredited status at all four sites.
A year later, I was promoted again, to the role of senior practice director, enabling me to gain more experience in a senior management role.
Before becoming a part of CVS, I would not have imagined that there would be an opportunity for a VN to rise through the ranks as I have. I am immensely proud to work for a company that fully appreciates what VNs are capable of.
Making a difference as chief veterinary nursing officer
I have always been driven to be the best VN that I can be, whether that be sharing experience with a colleague, sharing the joy of a new pet with a client or offering compassion and support at the end of a beloved pet’s life. After 25 years, my passion to be that VN remains. I applied for the role of chief veterinary nursing officer and my appointment will allow me to help my VN colleagues retain that dedication for their vocation.
I hope to bring a pragmatic approach to everyday nursing within all sectors of CVS. I want us to be able to look at a project and think ‘How will that work in general practice? or ‘How can our departments work together on this?’
We have many talented colleagues who are passionate about vet nursing. I will be the voice of CVS’ VNs, advocating the importance of their role and encouraging them to achieve their full potential.
The strongest relationships are built on trust. That goes for our clients and colleagues, and it is the most important skill that I have learned during my career. Bonding clients to the practice and the practice team is achieved in the consulting room. I aim to go above and beyond for both clients and colleagues, but understand that we also need to set achievable expectations.
Problem solving is another challenge that I enjoy. I look into all of the systems involved, not just at the obvious ones. I have learned a lot from adopting this way of thinking. I would go as far as to say that problem solving has become one of the most enjoyable parts of my role (past and present).
'Bonding clients to the practice and the practice team is achieved in the consulting room'
I led my practice’s team to achieve RCVS PSS accreditation and we were all enormously proud of that achievement. The PSS initiative provides the focus for our work in maintaining high standards of client and patient care.
Another highlight was spearheading the launch of our MiNightVet out-of-hours service. Developing a successful service that reflected our values and beliefs was tremendously rewarding.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
It is important to switch off from work and accept that it really is okay to do something that’s just for you, but it’s not always easy to achieve. To help during Covid-19, CVS implemented a ‘Going home check list’. This encouraged us to take a moment to reflect at the end of each day – to let go of the challenges and remind ourselves of things that went well – to check up on colleagues and to leave work at work. It was a great help for all staff and I’d recommend it as a way of supporting wellbeing within teams.
'Vet nursing is a rewarding career that offers amazing job satisfaction'
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I love my garden and enjoy growing vegetables (not always successfully). I keep hens and fellow hen keepers will know how entertaining they are. I love to read, spend time with my young family and enjoy being outdoors with our dogs.
Would you recommend your job?
Absolutely! Vet nursing is a rewarding career that offers amazing job satisfaction. I’m as passionate about my job now as I was at the start of my career 25 years ago.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to think big. If you are passionate about something – go for it.