Who is your current employer and what do they do?
Drove Veterinary Hospital
Small animal practice – 1 hospital and 5 branches
What is your job title and what does the job entail?
I am one of the small animal Directors of Drove Veterinary Hospital in Swindon. I am currently the only nurse on a board of vet directors. As part of my role, I am responsible for the operational side of the business, ensuring that all processes are as efficient as they can be to maintain optimum functionality of the company.
During Covid – a big part of my job has been writing and implementing risk assessments to ensure staff safety and client service is at the forefront.
I also oversee the nursing team so still get to have an occasional clinical fix, however a large proportion of this is supporting and developing my senior nurses and empowering them to feel confident and able to perform their role. Developing nurses’ career progression gives me a huge amount of job satisfaction. This has led me to work with XLVets to develop a nursing network across the practices. XLVets are a community of independently owned veterinary practices and the initial aim was to develop a senior nursing network support group, however, this has quickly developed into something available for all the nurses. We now put on regular CPD and social events and this is growing from strength to strength.
How did you achieve your current position?
I was originally employed as a lead medical nurse, I was then promoted to head nurse, then nursing and operational manager. Having had previous senior and head nurse experience in the past, I have spent some time in leadership roles. I was asked to take on the role of director to bring a different viewpoint to the board.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy all aspects of my job – from streamlining processes, auditing, staff development, increasing my knowledge of business management and bringing a new perspective to our board of directors. As previously mentioned, I am a huge advocate for nurse development, and drawing on my experience as well as lots of CPD. Supporting nurses is something that is important to me.
What are the challenging aspects about your job?
Always – time! More recently, Covid has had a significant impact. Attempting to work full time with two children needing home-schooling, as well as working around my husband’s shifts with no childcare has been tricky! This has meant a lot of late night working for me to ensure that I fulfil my role.
Also being a director does mean that I am very involved in the company, and down time can sometimes be difficult. I am learning that it is very important to make sure that I do take some time out for myself, which is not always easy.
There are a lot of staff in our practice, and they have all had a turbulent year, so making sure that I am available to them is important. However, this alongside my day-to-day job can leave very little time for things I may want to undertake myself.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently undertaking a CIPD course in leadership and HR and I would love to consider a certificate in veterinary business management in the future.
I would also like to look at setting up a social media platform for nurses in leadership, but this is all time dependent! Being in a position such as mine can be very isolating, and that is one of the things I am keen to work on. Historically there has not been a development path for nurses, and as a senior/head nurse it can be very lonely when you leave that team environment. So, talking about that and having that online support is something that I am passionate about.
I have also recently been asked to guest lecture at a local university for their veterinary nursing business management stream, so I am looking forward to this.
Most importantly for me, I have recently joined the BVNA Council and I am finding this exciting and am looking forward to being able to contribute more to the profession.
What key piece of advice would you give to anyone wishing to follow a similar career path?
You need to be prepared to work hard and long hours, with limited time to yourself. Having my RVN qualification, passion for nursing and my competitive nature is what has spurred me on. You also need to be able to be self-reflective and very honest with yourself.
One key thing I have learnt over the years is that it is important to always keep learning, to be open minded and never feel like you know it all.
Communication and inclusion are also very important as you can never be truly successful without the team around you.