What can you tell us about your role?
Being an RVN in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) offers a unique opportunity to work with military working animals, in particular dogs and horses.

My daily routine includes nursing inpatients, assisting the Veterinary Officer with surgical and medical procedures, running and organising clinics, dispensing medications and supportive treatments, completing routine paperwork and ensuring patient records are maintained and up to date. In addition, I have the opportunity to assist trainee Veterinary Technicians as a Clinical Coach.

Alongside this daily routine, I perform certain military tasks expected of a soldier. These include regular fitness sessions and participating in military drills, exercises and the opportunity to test my RVN skills in the field.

This is a job where every day I have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

How did you achieve your current position?
I gained my VN qualification at Harper Adams University College where I completed both the Foundation Degree in Veterinary Nursing and the Bachelor of Science Degree in Veterinary Nursing. I then worked in a small animal practice for several years before I felt that I needed to do something new. I wanted my abilities to be a part of something important but I wanted to learn new skills at the same time. I didn’t want routine but challenge; and, most importantly of all, I wanted to do something that not many other veterinary nurses did!

After much searching and debating about overseas travel, I happened upon the Army website. I had no idea the Army employed veterinary nurses, or that it was even a military role. I applied and was accepted.

After completing basic training and initial trade training I began work in my role as a veterinary technician. I started out as a Private but after working hard, and having had the opportunity to undertake courses to gain further qualifications, I was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal. The Army is a great place to learn. There is a wide range of courses available and many of them are free or fully/part funded. I have undertaken the following courses:

  • Patrol Dog Handler course, which I completed as part of my Phase 2 training and which gave me the skills for handling military working dogs.
  • Radiation Protection Supervisor course, which gives me the responsibility of ensuring radiation health and safety protocols are followed. I ensure quality assurance checks are performed and recorded and that Dosimeter badges are regularly sent for testing.
  • Defence Train the Trainer course, which I completed when I was given the role of Training Corporal. This qualification equates to a recognised civilian qualification and is required by individuals in an instructor position. I am currently giving veterinary lectures to dog handlers and assisting trainee veterinary technicians with their Nursing Progress Log (NPL) as a clinical coach.
  • Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) course, which I am hoping to undertake in the near future.

What do you enjoy about your job?
For me, it’s the variation. Not only am I a veterinary technician, but I am also a soldier. As a veterinary nurse, I have the opportunity to continue my profession, learn new skills and practice them in a challenging environment. As a soldier I practice discipline, learn military-based skills, such as weapon handling, and have the opportunity to travel to different locations where I continue learning and developing both my veterinary and military skills.

What are the challenges of your role?
The most challenging aspect is adapting to the military way of life. This can be difficult at times but I have always had the support of my family and friends, fellow veterinary technicians and civil servants.

Most people find traveling the most distressing aspect of military life, moving to a new location and leaving family and loved ones behind. I personally see this as an opportunity to meet new people, live somewhere new and work in another challenging environment.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to stay in the army as a veterinary technician for the foreseeable future. I hope to move up the ranks as my career progresses and grow in my role as a veterinary technician. I hope to share my knowledge with others to provide the best care and treatment to military working animals. In addition I aim to continue to learn new skills both in veterinary nursing and as a soldier of the RAVC by undertaking more courses; in particular, I hope to undertake courses that reflect my interest in advanced veterinary nursing and veterinary rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Career Case Studies
Lucy Hennessy