Case study

Registered veterinary nurse and lecturer — Holly Attwood

Holly started out in a first-opinion veterinary practice but became interested in teaching and now works at a university, teaching veterinary nursing students

How did you get your teaching job?

I completed the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), graduating in 2012. I went on to work as a small animal registered veterinary nurse (RVN) in a first-opinion practice when I came across a job vacancy at the College of Animal Welfare for a veterinary nursing lecturer in further education. Knowing I wanted to teach, I applied and was successful in getting the job. 

Approximately nine months down the line, I found a job advertised at NTU in the VN Times. Having graduated from the university, and realising that I wanted to teach in higher education, I applied and again was very fortunate to get the job.

Was your degree essential for the job?

My degree gives me the expertise in order to teach the subject. Since graduating, I have also completed a PGCHE and postgraduate certificates in veterinary anaesthesia and analgesia, in order to improve my subject knowledge for teaching.

What's your working day like?

A typical day consists of taking lectures and running small group practicals. In between timetabled sessions I'm often completing admin work (emails), prepping for future sessions and supporting students through one-to-one tutorials. 

How has your role developed?

In teaching there are always new challenges, from writing a new module for a new course to taking on further responsibilities, such as development of the students' experience through field trips. I hope to progress to course leadership one day.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

The most satisfying part of my job is watching first years starting their training with no skills or knowledge and then seeing them progress into RVNs and watching them develop both technical and non-technical skills. I love imparting knowledge to them and hopefully influencing the future generation of RVNs.

What are the challenges?

The biggest challenges are developing sessions with variation and acknowledging the vast difference in abilities that are now present in universities.

Any advice for someone wanting to teach veterinary nursing?

It's beneficial while you're in practice to become a clinical coach first to find out if you enjoy teaching or not. If possible, it would be useful to contact institutions and see if you can voluntarily deliver a lecture and/or attend as a guest lecturer. This will be a useful insight into how it feels to teach.

Keep looking for job vacancies - they always come up. Lastly, you'll need passion, patience and perseverance.

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