How long have you been an RVN and where did you qualify?
I started work as a student in 2017, qualified in Australia in 2019 and joined the UK Register in early 2020.

Where do you work and what does your job entail?
I have been working at Westport Vets in South Queensferry, Edinburgh, since the end of 2020. It is a busy small animal first opinion practice. The nurses in our clinic do a bit of everything, from reception work and nurse consults to inpatient care, surgical nursing, imaging and clinical pathology. We rotate through different areas of the clinic over the week and I really love the variety.

Why did you move overseas to work as an RVN?
I am from the UK originally, but I moved to Australia with my wife from 2014 to 2019, as that’s where she’s from. I had been interested in becoming a nurse for a long time but after studying English at university I finally ended up doing my Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing while I was in Australia. I was very excited to come back and join the UK Register.

What do you enjoy about your job?
When I was in Australia one of my favourite things was that members of the public would bring injured wildlife to us as there isn’t an equivalent to the RSPCA or SSPCA that treats wildlife. I got to see a lot of incredible animals up close and I volunteered at a local wildlife shelter to be involved with their rehabilitation.

The main thing I love about being a nurse is that every day is different and you really cover all areas so there’s always something interesting to be doing. You might be monitoring the anaesthetic for a surgery you’ve never seen before in the morning, running blood samples or doing a urinalysis in the middle of the day, then doing second vaccination consults with puppies and giving owners advice about nutrition in the afternoon.

Have you come across any difficulties working as an RVN overseas? If so, how have you addressed these? 
I had my qualification assessed by the RCVS when I moved and then had to take the Overseas VN OSCE which I was very nervous about as there wasn’t an OSCE equivalent in my course in Australia, so I wasn’t familiar with that style of exam. I spent a lot of time studying for the OSCE at home while I was first looking for work and I was very happy to pass.

I was surprised to discover differences in everything from the ways that cat spays are performed, to different breathing circuits being commonly used and differing regulations about dispensing parasite treatments. I had to accept that even though I wasn’t a student anymore, I did still have to ask a lot of questions to bring myself up to speed. I still do!

What are your plans for the future?
We intend to stay in the UK, but if there is another disastrous bushfire season I hope that I will be able to go out and help. Watching the 2019/20 bushfires unfolding when we had just moved to the UK and I was looking for work, knowing that I had trained to be able to help these animals but wasn’t able to do anything then, was really hard.

I want to continue learning about nurse clinics, community nursing, and improving sustainability in the veterinary industry.

What other qualifications do you hold?
I am currently studying towards a CertNCS in Veterinary Nurse Consulting and the WSAVA One Health Certificate.

What key piece of advice would you give to anyone wishing to follow a similar career path overseas?
Study hard for the overseas VN OSCE and take any opportunity you can to practise your skills, particularly study days with examiners.

Accept that there will be some things that are done differently to what you’re used to, be open to learning and ask lots of questions!

Overseas Case Studies
Alex Mullarky