I came in to veterinary aged 27 after originally training as a social worker and working as a senior care practitioner within a residential home for looked after children. I left children care after trouble with my mental health and worked in restaurants whilst I found my feet again. A few years pasted and I stumbled on a job advertisement for an animal care assistant (ACA) within a veterinary hospital. I will be honest I didn’t know that veterinary nurses existed until I was working within the industry. I loved the AVA job but unfortunately the work environment took a toll on my mental health again and I began private counselling for anxiety and depression. With my lack of knowledge of the industry, I thought the negative environment was normal and was something I had to deal with. When I spoke to other nurses or read about the industry, all I heard was ‘high suicide rates’, ‘burnout’ and ‘toxic management’ etc. I assumed this was normal for the industry and something I had to deal with if I wanted to keep my job and train to be a nurse. It was my therapist who highlighted to me that this was not a healthy or normal working environment. I took the leap and moved to a small animal general practice and began my nursing training; this move was the best thing I ever did. The supportive environment and management who push all staff to fulfil their potentials I was discharged from therapy within a month of the change. I have been at this practice since 2018 and came off all anti-depressants. I am a huge advocate for positive working environments and looking out for newbies in the field so that no one should experience what I did.

Studying as a veterinary nurse was difficult; being out of formal education for over 10 years and being dyslexic had it’s challenges. I am not ashamed to say I did not pass every examination first time. I failed my OSCE’s and three days prior to the resit, they were cancelled due to a little global pandemic. This resulted in a limbo period for about a year where I opted for the never been tried practical based assessment (PBA) and thankfully passed this. I became a registered veterinary nurse at the age of 31 in April 2021. Since qualifying I have trained to be a radiation protection supervisor, clinical coach, blue cross pet bereavement officer and I have nearly completed a certification for non-clinical nurse consulting. Outside of the consult room I can be found either at the pottery studio, out in the countryside on a bike ride or flying Harris Hawks. I love supporting student nurses and seeing them develop into strong confident nurses. My aim for the veterinary profession overall is to advocate for mature students, supporting those who have learning difficulties like dyslexia and those experiencing difficulties with mental health I hope I can show that you can succeed a massive amount when in a supportive environment and ultimately improve industry wellbeing.

Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Bateman