The first campaign of the VN Futures Diversity, Inclusivity, and Widening Participation Group in 2023 looks at veterinary nurses who have changed careers to follow their passion to care for animals and train to become registered veterinary nurses.

Read our first blog on this topic written by BVNA Council Member, Nikki McLeod.

​My name is Nikki McLeod, I am a consulting RVN, based at a small animal practice in Fife, Scotland. My passions within the profession are feline nursing, and cat/dog behaviour and I am currently a student at University of Edinburgh, studying a master’s degree in clinical animal behaviour.

When I left school, I wanted to work with animals or art; I was going to go to art college. Yet halfway through 6th year of high school, I got a place at an animal care college in Berkshire, to train to be a kennel-maid. After qualifying, I went to work in several kennels in England and Scotland. I was never a people-person, I much preferred to be around animals, getting dirty and cuddling dogs who were missing their owners. I also hated maths and never wanted to have to do anything to do with calculations!

I never saw myself going into the veterinary profession; I never thought I would be clever enough for a start, especially as schoolteachers told me so! But after several years in kennel work, I decided that I did want to learn more about the veterinary side of animal care and made the big jump into student veterinary nursing at aged 24. Vet nurse training was difficult for me, it was on-the-job training (there were no degrees at this time!) and block release college, and maths was still more definitely not my strong point!

I was told I wasn’t clever enough to be a RVN, I personally didn’t want to use my brain and yet here I am! I have found a passion in the veterinary profession, and I realised the reason for the brick walls I constantly came across; I was diagnosed late in life with autism.

Now that I know my strengths as well as my weaknesses, I have gone on to excel at studying through gaining a top up degree in vet nursing, and now I am in my first year of a Masters degree in Clinical Animal Behaviour. My vision is to become a practice-based Clinical Animal Behaviourist. I also enjoy passing on my knowledge through lecturing online and in-person.

I can only say to those who want to change career; do it! And don’t use age as a barrier – I am doing a Master’s degree at aged 50 after all……..