Who is your current employer and what do they do?
I currently work at the RSPCA’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital

The hospital is part of three large RSPCA hospitals serving the UK, with a network of branches giving further support to those that are on low income and those that cannot afford private veterinary treatment.

The following gives an insight to the work that is undertaken on a daily basis:

  • Provision of preventative care to the general public
  • Support the inspectorate through a systematic vet triage system
  • Case investigations which involve collating forensic evidence eg obtaining samples for analysis and assessment, particularly for cruelty cases
  • Liaison with the local authorities (for example, dog wardens) to resolve stray patients that are brought into the hospital to achieve the objective of treating injured stray animals
  • Education of responsible pet ownership through external education schemes
  • Offering veterinary support to a network of branches within a postcode catchment area
  • Community outreach support using a mobile veterinary theatre, usually to target areas of need such as elderly clients, disabled clients, transportation of large animals etc.
  • Hoarding and multi-cat intervention team consisting of nurses and vets working alongside RSPCA Inspectors to assist those that may need in-situ support due to psychological issues, bereavement, social care and housing crisis.

What is your job title and what does the job entail?
My role within the hospital is that of a Clinical Manager. My day-to-day role consists of:

  • Managing the nursing team which includes all hospital assistants, trainees, RVNs and staff nurses
  • Ensuring the overall clinical environment is operated effectively and efficiently. This includes overseeing clinical tasks that nurses are required to complete eg inpatient care, drug administration and writing up medical histories, and being involved in medical and surgical cases
  • Undertaking a range of diagnostic work such as radiography in which I hold the responsibility as Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS)
  • Drug and equipment audits, ordering and stock control extending to invoices and receipting clinical orders
  • Reviewing and writing standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Organising internal and external continuing professional development (CPD)
  • Overseeing Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN), Veterinary Care Assistant (VCA) and Animal Nursing Assistant (ANA) training through the apprenticeship scheme.

How did you achieve your current position?
I began my journey by attaining my Higher National Diploma in Animal Management and Welfare at Myerscough College.

Following this, I obtained a trainee nurse position in a referral practice in Stockport. Whilst I was working there, a vacancy for a hospital assistant, with the additional opportunity to study to become a qualified veterinary nurse, was advertised by the RSPCA. I applied and was successful. In 2007, I became a qualified veterinary nurse.

In 2009, a vacancy arose for a clinical manager in the same organisation. I was successful in applying for this role and have remained in it to the current day.

What do you enjoy about your job?
I obtain great satisfaction from various aspects of the position, but in particular I enjoy the diversity of working with patients and the veterinary team. The success of the work we do largely depends on each other and everybody has a role to contribute. No two days are ever the same.

These days, I often find that I adopt a teaching role and, when this happens, it becomes a wonderful opportunity to pass on what I have learnt, and it is incredibly rewarding to watch fellow colleagues grow and develop into exceptional nurses.

Additionally, I enjoy the range of clinical duties such as surgical work and strive to see how change could happen in a progressive way with potential legislative reform in the near future.

What are the challenging aspects about your job?
Being a deaf veterinary nurse who holds a managerial position presents many challenges.

Firstly, the impression and the ability of key characteristics that a deaf professional can bring to the profession is often in the spotlight. Knowing that I represent so many wishing to follow in these footsteps means that I always maintain a ‘You can do this too’ attitude.

There are so many technological advances being made such as the adapted stethoscopes which are amplified. These work not only through amplification, but adaptability to hearing aids and the reduction of background noises. Loop systems to provide environmental support during management discussions are also available.

For me, it is important to ensure that the right mentality is apparent and having an equal opportunities employer is key. This is crucial in developing an approach towards diversity and recognition of equality in the veterinary profession. It is also important to ensure that employers are aware of the requirements needed which are not always known.

The job itself is very rewarding yet demanding and brings many challenges. A varied caseload and a fast-paced environment where no two days are the same! I absolutely enjoy each day no matter what nursing challenges there may be!

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to:

  1. Continue in my role as clinical manager.
  2. Continue with the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) as both council member and Honorary Treasurer to achieve my electoral aims of:
    • Representing disabled practitioners in the veterinary profession and aim for equality and highlight their contribution to veterinary nursing.
    • Representing the charity sector and the valuable contribution nurses make in shelter medicine.
    • The success of LWP (Legislation working party) to achieve a better status for the future generations of veterinary nursing.
  3. Maintain a focus on education in two key areas:
    • Educating the wider public as the new RSPCA strategy steers the organisation into a direction to highlight many different areas such as responsible pet ownership as an example.
    • Furthering veterinary knowledge through divisions of webinars, speaking engagements, in-house training schemes and of course the continuation of veterinary nursing education and passing on the knowledge to others wishing to be qualified nurses.

What other qualifications do you hold?
I hold the RCVS Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing (DipAVN) as part of the Higher Education Diploma in Clinical Veterinary Nursing. This was later topped up to BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Veterinary Nursing at Myerscough College, in conjunction with the University of Central Lancashire. Moreover, I hold the City & Guilds Assessor A1 Certificate which allows me to be a clinical coach and clinical supervisor for student VN training.

I also hold an ILM Certificate in Management, achieved in 2017 which has stood me in good stead for developing and maintaining appropriate management skills.

Currently, I am nearing the end of a Master of Research (MRes) in Veterinary Studies with Nottingham University with a specialism in anaesthesia protocols which are incorporated in charity settings.

What key piece of advice would you give to anyone wishing to follow a similar career path?
To gain as much experience as possible!

It can often be a challenge to gain paid experience. If this applies, my advice would be not to give up and to consider opportunities to volunteer or undertake a work experience placement. This will allow for the building up of a unique skillset which will provide a foundation for further professional development and to enable the participation in networking. The latter can be hugely beneficial in finding out where paid vacancies with training a lot are opening up.

Most veterinary practices operate with a very fast pace and it’s easy to become side-lined, so my other piece of advice would be to be proactive and get stuck in where you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and show interest in the work being done. Hard work and dedication is always valued, and when possible, recognised.

Career Case Studies
Albert Holgate RVN