Vet Nurse Awareness Month: An interview with Nick Coleman

May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of the veterinary nursing profession and the vital role they play in animal care and treatment.

What was started as an awareness day by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) in 2005 quickly grew into a week and expanded even further to a month in 2012.

Nick Coleman is one of our Internal Medicine Registered Veterinary Nurses here at Paragon Veterinary Referrals and he kindly took time out to tell us about life as a vet nurse.

How long have you been a Vet Nurse and what training did you have to do to achieve your qualifications?

I’ve been registered as an RVN since July 2018 and studied a Foundation Degree in Veterinary Nursing at Askham Bryan College in York.  I’m keen to add to my qualifications and I’m starting to study towards a MSc in Advanced Veterinary Nursing at the University of Glasgow in September.

What attracted you to a career as a Vet Nurse?

I always wanted to work with animals but ended up working in Customer Service when I left college in 2004.  I then did work experience at a first opinion practice in 2014 and decided to change career and started my studies in 2015.  My work experience placement showed me how much care the RVNs, SVNs and ACAs gave to each and every patient and I wanted to provide that level of care myself. The variety of cases that I experienced meant that no two days were the same and I knew I wanted to work as an RVN from that point.

What are the best things about being a Vet Nurse?

For me, it’s seeing a patient arrive to the practice who is critically ill and then dealing with that patient until they are well enough to go home.  Seeing a patient go home after all the work the entire Paragon team has done is by far the most rewarding part of my job.  I also get to work with an amazing team of people and coming to work doesn’t feel like a job!

What kind of attributes do you need to be a good Vet Nurse?

You need to be someone who has a love of animals and will look after their needs at every opportunity. You also need to be able to prioritise tasks, work accurately in a sometimes-stressful environment and be able to work in a team of very different personalities and abilities. I also think you need to be able to talk about the difficult days we have with the rest of your colleagues as it’s surprising how many people have good advice on how to deal with the more difficult aspects of the job.

What advice would you give someone thinking about a career as a Vet Nurse?

Go for it! Even if you are working in a completely different career, it’s possible to change to working a job that you will love.  The first thing to do would be to speak to local practices and do at least four weeks of work experience to get an idea of what the role actually involves as it isn’t just playing with puppies and kittens all day – although that would be nice!  Then have a look at the different qualification routes – My course was nearly entirely paid for via student loans and there are a variety of funding options available depending on the course you apply for.

What are the best things about working at Paragon?

Definitely the people who work here and how passionate they are about providing the best level of care to every single patient.  We work with specialists in different disciplines and the level of experience they bring helps us to provide the highest level of care we can. I work in the Internal Medicine team so being able to work in a discipline I really enjoy on a daily basis and seeing interesting cases all the time is really rewarding.  We also have amazing facilities and a management team who want to see everyone work to the best of their ability so there are always opportunities for CPD, advanced qualifications and improving our skills.