Q & A with newly registered RVNs from Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology & Soft Tissue
For Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month 2020, we caught up with three of our newly registered veterinary nurses, Jazmine, Georgia and Shannen, from our specialist oncology and soft tissue hospital in Guildford, where they share an insight into the learning and career development opportunities as a referral nurse at Fitzpatrick Referrals.
What made you want to pursue a career in referral nursing?
Jazmine: I made the jump into referral veterinary nursing because I felt I wasn’t reaching my full potential, I wanted more from the job and to progress. I wanted to apply myself more on a day to day basis by dealing with complicated cases to broaden not only my hands-on skills as a nurse but also my knowledge and understanding.
Georgia: I wanted to further develop my nursing knowledge and skills within a progressive learning environment and offer care for patients with more advanced illness and disease.
Shannen: Throughout my Bachelors in Veterinary Nursing my lecturers were personable and compassionate, pushing me to want to be better and to achieve more. As I was coming to the end of my degree, I knew I wasn’t ready to stop being a student. I wanted to continue to push myself and the horizons in my education. I felt like referral work was the next step for my personal and professional development.
What have you found the biggest challenge since starting at Fitzpatrick Referrals?
Jazmine: The biggest challenge I found initially was the jump in difference from primary care nursing to referral nursing. There were times where I felt I was starting nursing from scratch or felt out of my depth but remembered the whole reason I wanted to go into referral was to learn and progress as a nurse. By working with such a good and supportive team, I learnt so much so quickly and more importantly I apply this knowledge to the cases I am involved with every day.
Georgia: For me, the biggest challenge has been within the anaesthesia department, which I have found to be a big step-up from my anaesthesia experience in primary care nursing. However, it continuously offers an opportunity to learn and progress.
Shannen: My biggest challenge has been to overcome my feelings of professional insecurities and anxieties. I knew that Fitzpatrick Referrals is where I needed to be for the next step in my career path but being surrounded by such an established and passionate veterinary team was initially daunting. When I started at Fitzpatrick Referrals I was a new graduate just at the very beginning of my career but any feelings of anxiety soon started to dissipate as my colleagues became peers and, most importantly, friends. The Fitzpatricks family has welcomed me into their team and have been there to guide me, answer any questions and help with any concerns or doubts.
What support have you received since starting at Fitzpatrick Referrals?
Jazmine: Since starting at Fitzpatrick Referrals there has been constant support. When I first started I completed a 6-week training programme where I would rotate between the different parts of the hospital working alongside the senior nurses. Everyone was very understanding and considerate that I was new to referral and there was never a time where I felt I couldn’t ask a question. There are many CPD lectures on a variety of topics, presented by both vets and nurses. There is a nurses’ journal club that allows us to research topics or cases as a group and then discuss them together. Having this support has helped me to develop both my practical and theory nursing.
Georgia: The team at Fitzpatrick Referrals are so knowledgeable, professional and welcoming. I have always found support from my colleagues when I’ve needed it, whether that be in the form of going over a skill together or just a friendly ear!
Shannen: The support that Fitzpatrick Referrals has offered both professionally and personally is invaluable. They offer a 6-week training window that allows you to experience each aspect of the hospital with an experienced team member. Alongside this training, they actively encourage education and development through journal club, CPD and group discussions. For those of the team, like myself who are new to veterinary referral nursing, there is a “New Nurse Club” that allows us allocated time as a group to research and discuss assigned topics and create informative ‘hand-outs’ for each other.
If there is anything that I’m concerned about or areas I am not confident in, our senior clinical team is always there to answer questions, tag along with more difficult cases and have one-on-one discussions with. They ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of understanding, with a personal approach.
What have you enjoyed the most since starting at Fitzpatrick Referrals?
Jazmine: Every day is different and there are a large variety of cases on a daily basis. Working as a rotating RVN I get to use a wide variety of my nursing skills, from working in anaesthesia and surgical nursing, to working in the wards and medical oncology. I love the variety of work and learning. As mentioned earlier, when I chose to apply to become a referral nurse I was looking to develop my skills as and progress my career. I definitely feel this is the case since I began working at Fitzpatrick Referrals.
Georgia: I have really enjoyed caring for intensive patients and developing my advanced nursing skills. I love working with animals and a job in referral nursing is very hands-on, which in turn is very satisfying. Seeing an animal going home happy and healthy as a result of our care is a brilliant feeling.
Shannen: What I’ve enjoyed most about my time at Fitzpatrick Referrals is the learning I have received. I enjoy the educational environment, the constant strive to offer the best veterinary care and the genuine passion within each team member.
I started my career at Fitzpatrick Referrals as an auxiliary, whilst waiting for my exam results and RCVS veterinary nurse registration. I threw myself into both my roles as an RVN and an auxiliary, and appreciated the fulfilment both of these roles have to offer. My favourite aspect of my job is anaesthesia nursing. I enjoy the responsibility and the preparation that is required for each case. Every case and patient is different and I never know what to expect.
What would you say to other RVNs considering a move into referral nursing at Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue?
Jazmine: I would definitely recommend any nurse to consider moving into referral nursing.
Yes, it may seem daunting at first but, you will learn so much and everyone around you is so supportive.
I think it’s important to remember that everyone has been in the position of being new or feeling out of their depth at some stage. The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the more you will learn and it will only be a matter of time before you can look back and realise everything you’ve learnt and how much you’ve progressed as a nurse. Even if referral nursing turns out not to be for you, it is worth a try and definitely worth the experience.
Georgia: It’s a big move and can be very demanding. But it’s an incredible place to work, with an amazing team that offers a huge learning opportunity.
Shannen: I would say simply, go for it! Don’t let your inner saboteur get the better of you.
If this is the direction that you want to go in, then take it. Fitzpatrick’s oncology and soft tissue hospital will offer you resources and assistance to learn, you just need to bring your passion and your drive.
As veterinary professionals, we all have the common goal of providing the best care possible for the animals that we look after. Moving into referral nursing was my next step to achieving that goal.