This year, BVNA are working on raising the profile of VCAs. Often, the impression is that VCAs will automatically progress to become a veterinary nurse – but we want to champion VCAs as a role in their own right. This year, we’ll be showcasing some of the diverse career opportunities available, and how VCAs can embrace and utilise their skills.

In this blog we hear from Leonie Morley, who completed her VCA qualification almost 20 years ago. Utilising her experience as a VCA, Leonie reflects on the career path she has paved for herself, alongside her keenness to remain part of the veterinary profession. She is now a Talent Coordinator for PDSA, having worked for the charity for 17 years. We also hear from Rob Waddams, Talent Manager at PDSA, who comments on Leonie’s career journey as an example to encourage others to diversify.

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“I completed my VCA qualification nearly 20 years ago when I left school and went to Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire College. I completed this at a private practice and went on to work for PDSA. I have now been here for 17 years!

“I always thought the automatic next step to career development would be to become a Veterinary Nurse. After deciding I did not want to be a Veterinary Nurse, I thought my two choices were to stay as a VCA, or I would need to leave the profession to progress further.

“I then decided to become a PDSA Receptionist being forward facing with the clients was something that I found I loved. I later moved to becoming a Senior Receptionist, and the background knowledge as a VCA was crucial in helping me assist our clients more efficiently. I could give telephone advice and in-depth client education on preventive services and the benefits, taking the load off our consulting VNs. I thrived at feeling I could make a real difference to day-to-day hospital management; being able to manage diaries more effectively, knowing from real experience how long a specific consult would take for clinical issues. I could also give first aid advice on the phone, and most importantly knowing when I needed to tell a client to make their way straight in!

“After spending nearly 10 years in this role, I felt it was time for a change. Again, I asked myself, do I need to leave the Veterinary profession to progress?

“No! PDSA offered me career development opportunities, and I interviewed for the position of HR Clerical Assistant at their Head Office. The role was offered on a hybrid basis, and the flexibility worked brilliantly for family life. They immediately placed me onto an HR apprenticeship to help me further progress. But again, having a VCA qualification gave me greater understanding when HR issues arise with colleagues. I have a greater understanding of the pressures and stressful situations they are going through; it helps me to understand their decision making. It also gives me empathy for Veterinary colleagues, that cannot always be understood from someone without a clinical background.

“These HR roles were not always possible 10 years ago, with single private practices who may not have had a HR department. But the rise of Veterinary Industry partners has opened so many more doors and avenues for our VCAs. I have progressed further at PDSA and secured a role within the Talent department, as a PDSA Talent Coordinator. Again, having my VCA qualification has given me a true insight of what staffing levels are needed from real experience on the ground, not just on paper. It allows real workforce planning, and an understanding of the day-to-day duties each Veterinary role is undertaking. Staffing pressures and shortages are a real issue in the Veterinary industry and being a VCA has underpinned my decision making my new role.

“I’m an advocate for VCA apprenticeships, and I would truly want prospective VCAs to know it’s not always about becoming a Veterinary Nurse. There are so many avenues within the profession you can take. And having the VCA qualification really underpins and elevates your understanding, and empowers your career!”

Rob Waddams, Talent Manager at PDSA, added:

“Leonie’s journey with PDSA demonstrates a lived example of our commitment to personal growth throughout the organisation. The experiences she has gained, in both a clinical and clerical environment, puts her in a fantastic position to drive her career in multiple directions. We actively encourage internal mobility and hope that Leonie’s success story encourages others within PDSA and the industry to diversify their skills, instead of leaving the industry altogether.”

Thank you to Leonie for sharing her career story. If you’re a VCA and you’re passionate about showcasing the VCA role, we’d love to hear from you to get involved in our campaign. This could include taking part in online discussion panels, writing brief articles, or producing other resources to raise awareness of the VCA role – or any other ideas you may have of your own!

For more information, get in touch with us at