Case study

Registered veterinary nurse — Ruth Hoskins

Find out how Ruth's proactive approach of contacting veterinary practices paid off

How did you get your job as a veterinary assistant?

I identified a number of local practices that I was interested in working at and contacted them directly, regardless of jobs advertised. I was invited to interview with two of the practices and offered trials with both.

The work environment differed immensely between the practices, and they offered different employment packages. After trying them both out I chose my current employer.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My BSc Veterinary Nursing degree is career specific and included a year's placement, which gave me hands-on experience that confirmed this was the career for me.

It would have been difficult to become a nurse by another route as very few apprenticeships are available now.

What's a typical working day like?

There will be routine operations scheduled and for these I monitor anaesthesia and care for in-patients. Other work includes, running laboratory tests, holding nurse clinics and dealing with unexpected emergencies.

We work on a shift basis as a team, so my hours change according to which shifts I am working.

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

I am newly qualified and looking to increase confidence in my knowledge and skills by working in a mixed practice. It would be nice to become a clinical coach in the next couple of years.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It's rewarding to send patients home to their families fit and well. Every day is a learning day, all sorts come through the door - dogs, cats, hedgehogs, goats, birds, reptiles and even zoo animals.

What are the most challenging parts of your role?

It can get very busy and stressful, and working an out-of-hours emergency service means it's not a job where you can just clock out if an emergency comes in. 

What advice do you have for someone wanting to work as a veterinary assistant?

  • When you're doing you're A-levels, do multiple work experience placements if you can and be enthusiastic when you're there because they will likely offer you more weeks with them.
  • Think about whether you want to be a small animal nurse or an equine nurse as they are very different roles, and you need to choose early.
  • Be aware it can be a stressful role and you need to be calm, for example, to be able to do drug calculations perfectly under pressure.

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