Case study

Registered veterinary nurse — Lauren Sell

Lauren works for one of the largest veterinary charities in the UK and enjoys the challenging, busy environment

How did you become a veterinary nurse?

I first studied a BSc (Hons) in Animal Biology at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), graduating in 2010.

I then started work at a private veterinary centre in Leicester, where I began as a receptionist. I was then offered a student nurse position. I began my nursing training in 2012 spending one day a week at college. I qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2015.

How did you get your current job?

After completing my nurse training and qualifying as an registered veterinary nurse (RVN), I continued to work at the same private, first-opinion small animal practice for two more years before deciding I wanted to gain further nursing experience.

A job at the PDSA was advertised online, so I applied for the veterinary nursing position and was successful. I've worked there for about a year now.

How relevant are your qualifications to your job?

My degree gave me an excellent foundation to continue pursuing a career involving animals, as I gained theoretical knowledge, which I could use in my further studies and now at work.

My Diploma was an accredited course allowing me to gain qualified veterinary nurse status, which is essential for the role.

What's a typical day like as a veterinary nurse?

Every day at the PDSA is different. It's a very busy and exciting place to work. 

Depending on the shift I'm working I may begin the day with nurse consults including second vaccines, post-operative checks and microchipping. Or, I may be working in theatre, monitoring anaesthetics, preparing animals for theatre and recovering them after their procedures. 

I may also be on the ward shift, where I am be responsible for all inpatient care and arranging discharge appointments for pets to be collected by their owners. I get regular opportunities to perform Schedule 3 (minor) procedures such as lump removals and stitch ups, as well as bandaging and wound care management.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My role as a veterinary nurse has developed a lot since enrolling as a student. I have learned so much from both my first job in private veterinary practice, and in my current role at the PDSA. I feel I have so much more to learn from the experienced members of staff in my current practice and would love to continue working on my nursing skills and performing more Schedule 3 procedures.

I hope to become a clinical coach in the near future, so I am able to support new veterinary nursing students. 

What do you enjoy about being a veterinary nurse?

I really like how each day is different. It's always challenging, which I love as I learn new things constantly. I enjoy having the opportunity to learn from a very supportive and experienced veterinary team. I use so many of my nursing skills every day, and am building new ones all the time.

What are the main challenges?

The PDSA is a fast-paced environment to work in, which I find great, although it can take a little bit of getting used to.

I have seen many different patients with a variety of illnesses and needs, which must be catered for as best as possible in a hospital environment. This can be challenging at times, but also rewarding when you begin to see your nursing paying off, such as finally encouraging an anorexic cat to lick a piece of food from your hand.

What advice would you give to aspiring veterinary nurses?

  • Show enthusiasm - most veterinary professionals are passionate about their work and don't mind you asking questions, as long as it is at an appropriate time.
  • Be prepared to continue learning - there are many practical skills that can only be learned on the job or that take patience and practice to get right.
  • Gain as much relevant experience as you can - volunteer at a variety of practices. This will help with job, university and course interviews and may also help you decide which type of practice you would like to work in once qualified. 

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