Job opportunities for the Registered Veterinary Nurse

Becoming a Veterinary Nurse opens up many different routes for job opportunities which doesn’t just include working directly alongside our animal friends!

The majority of nurses do go into clinical practice whether it is within primary care practices, referral hospitals or zoos. However, many nurses decide to pursue a career down the route of non-clinical work. This may include working as a service provider, working within the pet insurance industry, research or teaching or lecturing. Whichever route an individual chooses to take they are all vital roles in ensuring the smooth and effective running of the veterinary industry. This week some of our nurses discuss their experiences working within some of these different areas!

I decided to go into Referral Nursing as I wanted to use all the knowledge I’d learnt during my training to give animals the best possible care, I also wanted to see a wider range of cases that wouldn’t normally be seen in first opinion practice. I started my referral career in a mixed referral practice rotating through internal medicine, anaesthesia and emergency and critical care. This helped me decide that I wanted to specialise in anaesthesia.  Changing from first opinion practice to referral is a big and daunting move and it is challenging, but it is also very rewarding and there are plenty of CPD courses to help you make the move. Referral Nursing is an amazing way to use all your nursing skills to care for a range of interesting cases and animals.
Charlotte Turnbull – Referral Nursing 
The majority of RVNs are employed in primary care veterinary establishments which take on one of three forms.  There are the vet owned private practices that have one or two surgeries (usually a main and sometimes a branch practice), corporate practices with franchises and charity practices. Primary care generally have RVNs working in every area from nursing clinics, where they are giving advice about worms and fleas, clipping nails and weight clinics, through to working in the theatre as the anaesthetist.  I worked in a privately owned primary care practice for 6 and a half years and enjoyed being able to assist with clinics, help with endoscopy and radiography, performing laboratory work and the general running of the practice. It is a rewarding place to start your career with the work being really varied as you never know what will come through the door!
Sam Robinson – Primary Care Nursing
Another route of employment once you have qualified as an RVN is to work as a Regional Representative or Territory Manager or as they are commonly known, Drug Reps, for one of the many drug companies or service providers that supply the veterinary industry. This job mainly involves travelling around the practices in your area and promoting and educating the staff about products and services that your company provide. It is quite a challenging job as it requires good time management and the ability to work alone. It can be quite lonely travelling the country with only your sat nav and mobile phone for company and you also have to deal with any complaints and queries that you clients may have. A good memory is needed to memorise the products and services you provide and you generally get paid a basic salary and top it up with commission so the ‘gift of the gab’ is essential! One of the many upsides is socialisng with Vets and Nurses and attending the big veterinary show like BSAVA congress.
Karen Weston RVN – Working at a Service Provider
Another career route after studying to be a veterinary nurse is to go down the road of conducting and publishing research. Studying to be an RVN in a university environment gave me an insight into peer-reviewed research and the need for evidence-based medicine. Carrying out and publishing research is important to develop and improve veterinary and veterinary nursing skills and techniques and ultimately give our patients the best possible care. I presented my first research abstract at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Congress in 2014 looking into the efficacy of tympanic membrane thermometers vs rectal thermometers in cats under anaesthesia. I was given the award for best clinical research abstract at this congress and this paper has recently been published in a journal called The Veterinary Nurse. I look forward to contributing more to the evidence base of Veterinary Nursing throughout my career.
Fraje Watson BSc (Hons) RVN – Research
My lecturing career began in 2005, four years after graduating as a Veterinary Nurse, when I was nominated to speak at the internationally recognised British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) congress which is hosted in the UK every year in April.
As my main clinical interests lay in neurological nursing and physiotherapy I was asked to provide a variety of nursing lectures on neurological nursing and physical therapy rehabilitation in the neurological patient. Although daunted by the prospect I enjoyed every minute of teaching and inspiring nurses from general nursing, referral and veterinary school backgrounds.
This lecturing opportunity set the ball rolling in a long career of lecturing at congresses and various veterinary meetings alongside my clinical role as a veterinary nurse.
I have now lectured numerous times at BSAVA, WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association), Scottish BSAVA, NI Congress and provided numerous nursing CPD lectures for BSAVA and BVNA.
I enjoy using my practical based knowledge and experience to set the scenes for my lectures however there is the opportunity for nurses’ with an interest in lecturing to make a career move into teaching and lecturing full time in an academic environment such as Universities, HE colleges etc promoting learning for our undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary nurses.
Gillian Calvo – Lecturing as a Veterinary Nurse