Today marks the beginning of National Veterinary Nursing Month, celebrating the amazing work vet nurses provide across the country. Harper veterinary nursing students and alumni are incredibly passionate about their work, going on to achieve excellent careers that give them the opportunities to use their skills from a degree that matters. Those that teach the subject are equally as enthusiastic, as lecturer Linzi Nuttall highlights in sharing her journey to veterinary nursing.
“I would like to say that from a young age, I knew that veterinary nursing was the vocation for me,” Linzi began. “But as a hay fever sufferer with animal allergies, this just wasn’t the case!”
So how did Linzi’s career journey begin? She commented: “I began to become interested in pursuing a career with animals when I reached my mid-teens. I learnt to manage my allergies with medication, giving me the opportunity to follow my passion. I had secured a little job helping out at a pony stud, spending any spare time that I had at the yard; I spent many a weekend sleeping in the stable with a foaling mare. Also, as part of my work experience at school, I spent some time at a small vet practice near to home. This was when I realised that I had found the job for me.
“Working closely with the veterinary team, I found the camaraderie and team spirit inspiring. Equally, seeing animals recover from illness and observing surgical procedures was so fascinating that I immediately started looking for a position at a local vet practice.”
From this point onwards, Linzi took every opportunity to learn new skills and work her way up the career ladder. She said: “For my first role, I was employed as a trainee veterinary nurse at a mixed practice in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. Here I developed my knowledge and understanding of a wide range of animal species, studying alongside my work. Following two years of training and college I proudly obtained my RCVS nursing qualification.”
Having secured her qualification, Linzi began to diversify in her profession, finding her specialism. She explained: “A year after qualifying, I moved to a purely small animal practice in Swindon and here I developed a love for dentistry and surgical nursing.
“After three enjoyable years at this practice, I was ready for a new challenge and moved up to Leeds to work at a first opinion and referral practice alongside a very experienced Diploma Ophthalmologist. Here I developed skills required for advanced anaesthesia and learned what was required to become an ophthalmology nurse.
“Shortly after taking up employment here I began studying towards my Advanced Diploma in surgical nursing to improve my knowledge and understanding of advanced nursing practices, so that I could better support the vets and my patients.
“After two very educational years at the practice, I moved to a nearby multi-disciplined referral practice to take on the role at Deputy Head Nurse, later being promoted to Head Nurse. I graduated with a Diploma in Advanced Surgical nursing shortly after taking employment here and enjoyed a number of years challenging my nursing skills and knowledge as much as possible. The practice was very proactive and grew to a five branch strong business during my time. I was very fortunate to work with a wonderful team of vets and nurses here and still hold very precious memories of the times that we spent supporting and treating animals together.”
Having moved around the country for various roles, Linzi then found herself in Shropshire, working as a deputy head nurse once again. “As a multi-disciplined referral practice, I worked as a surgical nurse in a purpose-built facility with a very experienced and highly qualified team of vets and nurses.
“A year after moving to Shropshire a contact within Harper Adams University informed me of the position within the Veterinary Nursing department as a teaching assistant. Taking the opportunity, I began employment as teaching assistant and manager of the small animal unit, caring for a small number of furry animals and reptiles with two other colleagues. The department has vastly expanded since then and we are now a very large team of vet and nurse lecturers.”
Working has not stopped Linzi from seeking to expand her own knowledge. She shared: “Whilst working at Harper, I have developed my portfolio further achieving a BSc with a commendation and later a PgCert in education. I hold my time as an RVN close to my heart and still miss the times that I spent in practice. However, being a lecturer gives me the opportunity to share my stories and impart my knowledge to inspire others to seek employment in this amazing profession and push the boundaries of veterinary nursing.”
At Harper, we continue to challenge and push the boundaries for all of our degree courses, providing students with the knowledge to make a difference from a degree that matters. Should you be inspired by Linzi’s career journey, you can see our veterinary nursing degree course options here. To speak to a current vet nursing student about their experience at Harper, click the button below!