We don’t all know what we want to do when growing up. Some travel, some follow their childhood passions, and some spend a long time wondering what they really want to do…
I was the latter. I began with university and various non-veterinary positions before starting to piece things together. And it still shocks me today that it took me so long to figure out that Veterinary Nursing was a job I would love and would be good at. But, I am glad for the lead up – for my life experiences.
Obviously it didn’t come without its challenges. It’s very easy to put your passions aside and think ‘I’m too old’ or ‘I don’t have enough experience’. But after spending a good year with my thoughts, I knew I needed to try something new.
I popped into a local practice on a whim and was honest about where I was in my professional life. The Head Nurse was so encouraging and ensured me that new candidates straight from college are great, and have amazing attributes, but so do older people that have more life experience. Like any job, a mixture of qualities are vital to working in a team.
I wanted to begin applying for work, but I felt that with no relevant experience on my CV I’d end up at the bottom of the pile. Being able to work as well as gain some experience seemed to make the most sense.
I started sending emails to all the animal-related organisations I could think of in the surrounding area, in hope of gaining some extra experience. I began volunteering at a farm, which helped develop my knowledge of different aspects of the Veterinary world, and provided the chance to become familiar with lots of different breeds.
The farm was a great place to start, but I really wanted to be in-house. Dedication led me to a part-time job on reception at a practice I had started volunteering at. This allowed me to learn more about both the clerical and medical aspects of the job. From drug names, to flea and worming courses, I began picking up lots of information as I went along. I was sharpening up on my telephone skills, and meeting to a variety of people with all sorts of animals. I was finally on my way…
That was when I found out student veterinary nurses needed a grade C or above in Maths, English, and Science GCSEs. I did pretty well at school, and have a bachelor’s degree. But I didn’t have a C in Science.
This shortcoming nearly saw me give up on my goal – it felt like such a hurdle. I searched online for courses, and thankfully found one at Richmond Community College. Three hours every Friday for three months. Which was intense, given I’d be cramming two years’ worth of learning into an eighth of that time.
However, I quickly found that my attitude to learning had changed. I felt much more dedicated, and I had a reason to be there. There were classes where I was learning about nuclear power plants and fossil fuels, which had me thinking ‘is this really the knowledge I need to be a Vet Nurse’ – but I can admit now it got my brain back into action, and I was over the moon to pass the exams.
For anyone thinking of getting in to this career – you can do it. It does take time, but it’s so worth it once you’re there. I hope to start more training soon, which will have me return to college once a week and will lead to my Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) qualification.
If you’re considering this line of work, but have your doubts about applying for whatever reason, let me be the example. If you want something enough, you can be whatever you want.
Written by Amy Brown – Animal Nursing Assistant