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 workforce2. Structured and rewarding career paths3. Confident, resilient, healthy and well-supported workforce4. Proactive role in One Health (working with human and environmental sciences)5. Maximising nurses’ potential6. 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:
â Only 72% of VNs said they will stay in the industry for more than 5 years
â The top 5 reasons that those who wanted to leave, were because of:
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
Whilst you're here, take a moment to see our latest job opportunities for vet nurses.
Great post. I think more nurses would stay in the career if it financially justified all the hard work and studying they do. You literally can get paid more as a cashier or a waitress sometimes. Entry level admin jobs Ive seen on Indeed have the same yearly salary..or better.. no qualifications needed. I dont even think job security is a thing anymore after being furloughed for 4 months, simply because of my lack of transport at the time and part time status. Ill be first out if redundancies happen. Supporting a child as a single parent on a VN wage is REALLY hard..So, when 'life ' things happen like that, its not a great source of security , and the hours aren't family friendly in most practices, hence why Ive only just come back after 12 years. No wonder we get disillusioned - It feels like , once you have to start fending for yourself financially, its a non starter.. you cant afford to save for a mortgage unless you have a partner or live at home with parents rent free while you save. Its ridiculous. And nowadays nurses all have degrees, so are probably all massively in debt straight after that. So, sadly it is a financial decision to leave a career they love , mostly... a lot of dissillusionment at work in some practices too, because of the way they are run . Its hard for VCAs to move up into the very few VN training roles, so they get stuck on that payscale for years, Its hard to find a lovely place to work where you get on with everyone and the management respect and support everyone. If you find that , stick at it , because its half the battle...in any career path . Its sad when people leave because its just not financially viable though. The payscale for nurses has to change. It should be on the same level as teachers. I left and came back years later but I still have to have a second job to survive. How is this still the case, even for qualified nurses - I qualified in 1992 and it seems that nurses now are expected to be 100 times cleverer with degrees and umpteen letters after their names... which is great, to push people to learn more but for the same low pay as ever?? Its often the case that if you step up a job role, say into clinical coach or something, theres no pay rise for it.. get a degree, ( its the only option now anyway as the C&Gs have finished ) youre on the same pay as a diploma nurse even with a degree and all that student debt... It doesnt make sense unless having academic letters to show is your thing and you can afford to live on peanuts or have someone to support you. I think thats what shocked me the most coming back after 12 years.. that financially things have not really improved but the expectations are now stratospheric.. reading the text books that are written now as if they are meant for vets with PHds with trillions of long un-neccessary words. . Its made me think maybe Im not good enough anymore, not academic enough, intimidated by the new textbooks and how they are written, online webinars that I keep having to rewind because of all the ridiculous words and speed of the narrators voice..No options for hands on learning or improving at the moment, bossed around by degree nurses and stressy vets.. who may have all the letters and knowledge but minimal skills in the stuff that textbooks cant teach you.. empathy and communication. Ive felt most supported in my role by nurses who trained when I did, and are also women with a similar age and life experience ; other 'career returners ' who made me confident and i was flying at the beginning of the year. But thinking about it, in the past 18months Ive felt talked down to and sarcastically spoken to by younger nurses and vets quite a lot. And before ,I initially left because of practice management & miserable moody bosses, making me unhappy at work, and of course the pay. I locummed happily for years, at some lovely practices, alongside my creative jobs. Maybe thats the way forward again. . but If I get made redundant after all this furlough time, Im not sure that Vet Nursing will even be on my future job search at all. I feel disposable now, and there's no job security anymore after Covid19 unless you tick all the boxes. If your life situation has left some of the boxes unticked, your'e stuffed, at any age, and the longer you are out of it, the confidence just drops :(
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