What is the difference between a job and a career? The difference is all in your attitude.

A job is work you do in return for a paycheck, moving from place to place with no real plan - but what if you had taken on specific roles and education, with long term goals you wanted to achieve in something you were passionate about? Well, now you have a career!

Veterinary Nurses are known to be passionate and driven by challenge, often wanting a career that makes them feel fulfilled when working with people and animals. So, how can you take the lead in following your Veterinary Nursing passion and be supported in it?

If You Don't See A Door, Build One

Be proactive and make a career plan to reach your goal:

1. Start by writing down your previous roles, the experiences you gained and the skills you learnt. This is a good way to take a step back and reflect on everything you have already achieved in your career.

2. Next, write down a few things you are passionate about - there may be some things that align.

3. Write down your ultimate goal (no matter how crazy you think it sounds!).

4. Working backwards, step by step, write how you think you can achieve them, both personally and in the workplace. It may involve additional CPD or training, working alongside a mentor, or visiting different places to gain experience. Spider diagrams are a great way to get all your ideas out, and then connect them up.

For example, maybe your ultimate goal is to run an effective weight loss clinic for dogs, spending a couple of days a month managing a weight loss clinic, becoming a weight loss advocate and the “go-to person” in your practice. You could start by searching all dogs by BCS in the practice software

> with the list, a target email could be sent to them to introduce a nurse consult and support bulk package for the client (including 6 months’ worth of food and nurse consult fees)

> contact a pet food company that may be interested in providing free samples and marketing materials

> help strengthen the client to practice bond by arranging one day a fortnight week catch ups and weigh ins

> arrange a Saturday morning dog walking group in the local area so clients can get together and support each other in their pets weight loss, or make a private weight loss forum on the practices social media account.

5. Now with your plans on what you want to achieve, arrange a meeting with your manager. Lead the meeting and discuss what your career goals are, how you think you can achieve them, how you would like the practice to support you, and how it will ultimately support the practice. Leave the meeting with some action points and ask if you can have another meeting in a few weeks’ time. Remember, you are the project leader here.

6. Finally, work on some of those action points, no matter how small they seem! They are part of the foundations to a much bigger picture.

Remember to work out a plan to manage your time effectively. As exciting as new projects may be, try to set a certain amount of time to spend on it in a day or week so you can switch off and enjoy things outside of work.

Progression in the Profession

Excitingly, VN futures – a collaboration between BVNA and RCVS VN Council, is working across the entire industry to promote the future for Veterinary Nursing. They work to review and propose ideas to develop leadership programmes and support veterinary practices to encourage career development on their vision of ‘Taking charge of our future together’. They have 6 key aims to achieve this:

1. Creating a sustainable workforce
2. Structured and rewarding career paths
3. Confident, resilient, healthy and well-supported workforce
4. Proactive role in One Health (working with human and environmental sciences)
5. Maximising nurses’ potential
6. A clarified and bolstered VN role via a reformed Schedule 3

Today and Tomorrow's Veterinary Nurses

In 2019, the RCVS conducted a survey of Veterinary Nurses, gathering information on demographics, roles and job satisfaction. They received over 5000 responses from those still working in the industry and those who are not. Some of the findings were:

●        Only 72% of VNs said they will stay in the industry for more than 5 years

●        The top 5 reasons that those who wanted to leave, were because of:

        Pay         Not feeling rewarded/valued (non-financial)         Poor work-life balance         Career change/new challenge         Dissatisfaction with career opportunities

So what does the study show? Veterinary nurses want to work with animals and they want to make a difference, however they feel frustrated with the opportunities (or lack thereof!) in front of them.

Your future is in your hands!

There are many opportunities to find your niche within the Veterinary Nursing profession, and they can lead you in many exciting directions if you follow your passion - like working in a clinical environment, taking on a management role, contributing to conservation or working in charities overseas.

What are you waiting for? Start following your passion and be proud of the profession you always wanted to work in.

And to finish with something inspirational - “a dream becomes a goal when action is taken towards its achievement” - Bo Bonnet

PS: Whilst you're here, take a moment to see our latest job opportunities for vet nurses.