Helen Ballantyne

Blog asks if veterinary nurses are strong enough advocates for the profession

A new blog has been published on the Vet Futures website asking if veterinary nurses are being strong enough advocates for the profession.

The article is written by Helen Ballantyne who is both a veterinary nurse and a medical nurse and also a member of the VN Futures Action Group. VN Futures, which is run jointly between the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) and was launched earlier this year, aims to draw up a blueprint for the future of the veterinary nursing profession.

In her blog Helen argues that, while veterinary nurses have always been strong advocates for animal welfare and patient care, they have not always advocated the profession in such a strong way. She posits several reasons why this might be the case including it being seen, historically, as a ‘subservient’ role, the fact that the vast majority of the profession are women, the profession’s relatively young age, busyness, and the fact that veterinary nurses may not necessarily know where to turn for advocacy.

However, she says this is all beginning to change: “There are clear barriers to engagement and yet, there is a change in the air.  In the past, debating sessions have been hosted at BVNA Congress, a forum in which experts were brought together to initiate discussion on various issues. For several years it was poorly attended, there were a few voices, a titter of applause and then the room would empty.  Last year, feeling that the time might be right, the session was reintroduced and the debate on small animal nutrition that ensued was energetic, knowledgeable and passionate.  It showed that veterinary nurses have started speak, to use their knowledge and expertise to form valid relevant opinions.

“This year the RCVS announced an increase in the number of candidates standing for its VN Council showing that more members of the profession want to speak out. Each year the BVNA sees more and more of the profession work on projects for Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month in May.

“This means that each year the word spreads among the general public that veterinary nurses are not just ‘a cheaper substitute vet’ or an ‘aspiring vet’ but a professional member of the team with different responsibilities to the veterinary surgeons.”

She encourages veterinary nurses to use the VN Futures project as an opportunity to stand up and be counted and help influence the future of the profession adding: “It’s time to get involved, it’s time to get interested, for ourselves and for our patients. For if we don’t speak, then we lose the right to say ‘our profession’. It’s time to stand taller and speak louder, because crucially, there are people listening.”

Members of the profession who would like to contribute to the project can attend the upcoming VN Futures roadshow meeting at Edinburgh Napier University on Wednesday 11 May or either of the two upcoming Regional Question Times which take place in Nottingham and Cardiff on Tuesday 17 May and Tuesday 31 May respectively. To attend any of these events visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/vn-futures-9802034279

The VN Futures Action Group will also be launching its Action Plan at the Vet Futures Summit on Monday 4 July 2016. Tickets to this event cost £20 each and can be ordered at https://vetfutures.org.uk/event/vet-futures-summit/

Any veterinary nurses, or other members of the practice team, who wish to comment on the blog can do so by visiting vetfutures.org.uk/vnfutures where there will also be a poll to answer asking whether veterinary nurses are strong advocates for the profession.




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