8 June 2023
As a Veterinary Nurse, your days will be busy, challenging and rewarding – and it’s important that this work doesn’t go unnoticed. That’s certainly the view of first year BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing with Companion Animal Behaviour student, Shaznay Creary, who believes Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month is one of the ways to help increase awareness in the industry and the wider community.
VNAM was originally started by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) in 2005 as a National Veterinary Nursing Day campaign. Since 2012, the campaign is now celebrated throughout the month of May every year.
For this year’s VNAM, the theme was #Empowerment to spread the word to veterinary professionals and pet owners about the importance that Veterinary Nursing has in the industry.
As this month’s campaign drew to a close, we spoke with Shaznay about this year’s theme, what VNAM means to her and her time studying with us so far. Here’s what she had to say.
“It’s a very respected career but it can also get overlooked at the same time – so it’s one of those things where we’re respected for the work that we do with people within the industry because they understand our role a little bit more. However even with the wider public, although you are saying you’re a registered VN, it is very much valued but that level of trust sometimes isn’t there.
“I have noticed throughout my work in pet stores and with exotic birds, when speaking to pet owners, a common topic is difficulty with communicating with vets, typically involving the feeling of intimidation and lack of understanding when vets are communicating problems, preventative measures, and treatment of their animals.
“As veterinary nurses, we are taught widely about communication with the public and potentially this feedback demonstrates that we do not get enough opportunities to work with clients and the public to build relationships with them as much as we do their animals, which I believe is a slight flaw that needs to be worked on. This will also empower the role because if the public understands our niche, the level of respect received will be heightened as we do not just assist vets; we have our own role, responsibilities and a lot of knowledge that accompanies this.
“That’s one of the things we focus on so heavily at Harper as it’s important we as nurses have a good relationship with the owner.
“I think the theme of Empowerment means a lot because sometimes the stress does get to us and sometimes, we feel like we’re not doing enough so it can be very difficult, but I think you will notice when you go into vet practices and do see behind the scenes that the veterinary nurses are gelled together and work really well as a team which I think us being close as student VNs helps us replicate that in practice and it can just really empower the role.
“So I think getting our role a little bit more out there to the community is something I’d really like to do – just making people aware of the amount we do and how we are here to help the wider public is a massive thing and I think it’s a role that’s sometimes overlooked as it’s a new profession so the wider reach it gets, the more familiarised people will become.”
What do you enjoy about your course at Harper Adams?
“I enjoy a lot of my modules that I do. I mostly enjoy Harper itself as it’s basically a massive network. I work with a lot of people, and I work closely with other people in other courses - and we all learn a lot together by helping each other. Harper is basically the industry on a plate, and we all get to experience what it’s like in the real world.
“VN is very community based which is something I’ve really learned here because we’re all on the same page, we all understand what we do, and we’re told from the beginning what we can do as Veterinary Nurses and the opportunities after studying which really empowers the role for me.”
What do you think about the staff support here at Harper Adams?
“I’ve done a lot with Learners’ support; I even have an academic guidance counsellor myself which has been really helpful. Lectures I find quite difficult personally, but within our courses itself we break down into smaller groups, so we have a lot of tutorial groups, tutorial sessions that are a lot more one-on-one learning as well rather than just lectures.”
What do you think about the facilities at Harper Adams?
“I think the facilities at Harper are great! I’ve used the majority of Harper’s facilities – obviously we’re in the Veterinary Education Centre a lot and many of their rooms replicate real life locations in practice, like consultation rooms, x-ray rooms, kennels and the hydrotherapy rooms - which we’ve not had the chance to use yet, but we still explore that within our physiotherapy topics. I’ve used the gym; I’ve been to a lot of the Students’ Union events so there’s just so much to offer and there’s so much to get involved in really!”
“We do a lot of practicals and it just gives us a real insight into the kind of animals we will be working with – there’s a lot of animals with different temperaments, some animals we can and can’t handle so it gives us a real outlook into things we will experience in practice.”
What advice would you give to anyone looking to study Veterinary Nursing with us?
“I think Veterinary Nursing is a massive course area – a lot of it is behind the scenes work, so things you may not see when you take your animals to the vets. A lot of that we do so it’s nice to kind of really get to know the nitty-gritty things about that. We also have three different kinds of pathways to the course – we have Companion Animal Behaviour, Veterinary Nursing and Small Animal Rehabilitation and we explore that throughout. Even if you do choose one and decide your interest lies in another, you have the option to change so there’s a lot really going on in the course – you do a bit of everything.
“I do believe that those looking to study veterinary nursing shouldn’t just think the only career option is working in practice. There are many other routes you can take with a veterinary nursing qualification, whether that is helping animals around the world as an exotics nurse, which is the path I aim to follow, or whether that’s educating students, the public, or even others within the veterinary world with supporting governing bodies or in research.”