Who is your current employer and what do they do?
Vets4Pets Byfleet (I am one of the Joint Venture Partners) and we are a 1st Opinion Small Animal Practice.

What is your job title and what does the job entail?
Joint Venture Partner and Lead Veterinary Nurse – my role is still generally hands on nursing 2-3 days a week with 1-2 days of administration.

I manage my team of 3 Vets, 2 RVN’s, 1 SVN and 3 reception colleagues, as well as oversee daily practice running, ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible and that all daily tasks are completed before the end of the day. I manage the Vet and Nurse rotas, holidays and organise all CPD for my colleagues. I am also the one to usually liaise with the Reps. I organise the servicing for the equipment and ensure repairs are done when needed. Externally, I sit on The Clinical Advisory Board for The Vet Group where we discuss clinical protocols and standards for the Vets4Pets practices as a whole and I look at clinical audits within my practice. I also ensure our standards at the practice are as high as they possibly can be from patient care but also client care and we have obtained our RCVS PSS as a General Practice.

How did you achieve your current position?
I have had a very varied Veterinary Nursing career since I began in 1998 – working in 1st opinion, Referral, an exotics hospital in Dubai and being Principal Nurse Manager for Vets Now. I met my business partner here at Byfleet, when I locumed for him at his other practice (Vets4Pets Woking). I accepted a full time position at the practice and went on to become his Head Nurse. We knew Vets4Pets Byfleet was due to open March 2016 and after many lengthy discussions, we decided to jump feet first into this new venture and on February 25th 2016 we both signed the papers to become proud JVP’s of Vets4Pets Byfleet.

What do you enjoy about your job?
I have an incredible team here at the practice and we all work so well together. Many of the team have been with me since day 1 and they are just as proud of the practice as I am. I still get a buzz out of nursing the challenging cases and meeting my clients (now as a practice owner and not just as a nurse) I feel my relationship with clients has grown so much – these clients are not just a number to me.

What are the challenging aspects about your job?
Most challenging aspect of my job is having to deal with the complaints. Although I will respond personally to all complaints, I do take them very personally. No one comes to work to do a bad job and sometimes the complaints stay with me and I also become slightly “obsessed” about them.

Time is another challenging aspect – I never have enough hours in the day to compete my tasks and many will fall on my time off to finish. It is difficult being a Full Time nurse as well as Practice Owner.

What are your plans for the future?
During this current climate, I cannot plan the future. Covid 19 has put a rather large strain on the practice, financially as well as emotionally and all I am focussing on now is my team and getting us all through this. When life gets back to normal, I would like us to work on our RCVS PSS more and gain some of the Awards. I would then like to look at completing The Practice Managers qualification so when I hang my nursing hat up eventually, I can focus fully on the running of my business.

What other qualifications do you hold?
City and Guilds Certificate In Veterinary Nursing Emergency and Critical Care (2015)

Clinical Coach

I also hold the BSAVA Merit Award in Veterinary Nursing Dermatology.

What key piece of advice would you give to anyone wishing to follow a similar career path?
Just GO FOR IT, but be prepared this role is certainly more challenging than you will ever imagine. Managing a team as a Head Veterinary Nurse is one thing, managing an entire practice is a whole different ball game. You will be the person to deal with the complaints from clients as well as your team sometimes and you need to realise you are now their boss and you cannot always be their friend. You also will never have all of the answers so you need humility and understanding. Help to grow others within the practice and you will find your job so rewarding – however be prepared that equally it can be very emotionally and physically demanding.

Career Case Studies
Helen Russell CertVNECC RVN