Published onMay 26 2022
We're thrilled to welcome Nicky Smith as our new appointed Veterinary Nursing Technical Manger at Lantra. Get to know Nicky in this 'In Conversation With Our Vet Nurses' article, where we learn which roles Nicky's has had in Vet Nursing, her favourite parts of the job and her advice to those considering a career as a Vet Nursing lecturer.
What inspired you to choose a career in vet nursing?
While growing up I always had animals at home and got a great deal of pleasure out of caring for them. When leaving school I was drawn towards careers with a science background as this was one of my favourite subjects at school, along with wanting a career where every day would be different. I considered careers in human healthcare but then realised that I could also combine my love of animals to become a veterinary nurse.
What’s the best thing about vet nursing?
I think one of the best things about veterinary nursing is the opportunity to really make a difference. Whether you are in a nursing role or education you are making a massive difference to lives, whether they be your patients, their owners or your student nurses. The profession is constantly changing so there are always plenty of opportunities to find your niche area, further your skills or do extra qualifications. To see the trust that your clients put in you when they hand over their pet for treatment, and then to see the joy when they are returned to them. The feeling of being part of a team, with everyone working so closely, all with the same end goal of providing the best possible care for your patients and their owners.
What type of roles have you had in this industry?
I initially trained in a private small animal practice then after qualifying moved to work for an animal charity in their hospital. I spent a short time in industry as a representative for a pharmaceutical and pet food company before moving back to nursing working in a mixed practice before moving onto a role where I was equine nurse. I was then involved in setting up a new start up veterinary practice, where, as the team grew, I became head nurse and heavily involved with student nurse training. I enjoyed working with the students and began teaching part time at a veterinary nurse college before moving full time into a tutor and internal quality assurance role.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to take up a career in vet nursing?
My advice would be to make sure this is the career you really want to do, go and get some experience. Many veterinary practices will offer work experience placements, local kennels, catteries or stables often have volunteer roles which will all give you an insight into working with animals. Work hard at school to get the qualifications that you need and then be prepared that many practices will want you to work for them in a kennel assistant role before putting you through your nurse training. It’s not an easy job, it can be mentally and physically challenging at times but if you put in the hard work and hours, you will have a career for life that can branch off on many different paths.
What are you looking forward to within your role at Lantra?
I am excited to be working within a team experienced in producing quality awards to meet the needs of the land based industry sector. The development of the new veterinary nursing award has provided a qualification to the industry that is both user friendly and will equip student nurses with all the skills that they will require to succeed in their career. I look forward to being able to support colleges and Learners, listening to their views and feedback, to ensure they have a positive learning experience and input into the future of veterinary nurse training.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work as a lecturer in vet nursing?
Teaching veterinary nursing can be extremely rewarding, there is nothing better than seeing your students progress and ultimately qualify.
However, its not just about your time in the classroom! Plenty of preparation beforehand is key, make sure you know the subject well as you never know what questions you may be asked! Many colleges welcome guest speakers so offer to go and deliver a few lessons for them as you never really know how you are going to feel till you stand up in front of a classroom! Congresses such as BVNA also provide opportunities for nurses to deliver lectures on areas of their choice, or if face to face is not for you there are always opportunities to produce pre-recorded webinars for CPD purposes. If you feel that teaching is going to be your chosen career path enquire at local colleges about preparing to teach courses which will give you a basic insight into the role.