24 June 2022
DIWP Role Models: Vicki Nielsen
1. How long have you been working in the veterinary industry and where did your veterinary nursing journey begin?
It has been 17 years! I joined the industry in 2005 before beginning my training to become a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 2006 at a busy 24-hour small animal hospital in Hertfordshire. I qualified in April 2009.
2. Can you tell us a bit about what you have achieved so far in your career as a veterinary nurse?
After qualifying, I went on to become a Head Nurse where I became a Clinical Coach and developed a keen interest in training and supporting student veterinary nurses. This led me to obtain my Level 3 Award in Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector by taking evening classes in 2013. Shortly after, I got the exciting opportunity of becoming an Internal Quality Assurer at a college supporting and training student veterinary nurses.
As an IQA, I have had the opportunity to visit training practices up and down the United Kingdom including a couple of practices that have been on television and I even approved one in Sweden!
Meeting so many practice teams and having the opportunity to visit many towns and cities is probably not something I would have done had I not been in this role.
In addition, I have had the opportunity to promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity to many students over the years, enabling me to share my own personal experiences to inspire them to know they can achieve their goal of becoming veterinary nurses regardless of any differences.
3. What are you hoping to achieve over the next few years and why?
I hope to continue to support and inspire future generations of veterinary nurses as well as continuing to support those training them, and continue to grow in my current job role working with a fabulous team.
4. If you had to choose three words to describe you in your role as a veterinary nurse, what would they be?
Empathetic, calm and proactive.
5. What do you find most challenging about working as a veterinary nurse and why?
Communication has always been a challenge for me as a veterinary nurse, working on reception and in the operating theatre as I rely on lip reading. This was emphasised more so during the pandemic, when I returned to practice for six months and had to wear full PPE including face masks. It was particularly challenging to communicate during this time with clients and colleagues but having supportive and understanding colleagues really helped. I even taught some vets sign language, which helped us to communicate during surgeries!
6. Why do you think practice culture is important?
We spend most of our time at work and while the mentality in the past may have been ‘leave your problems at the door’, this is now changing.
By providing a supportive environment for everyone to be able to be open about their physical, emotional or mental health and to feel they can go to work and be in a positive working environment, we gain a team with high morale. It enables them to deliver gold standard patient care and naturally perform at their best.
I only know too well how mental health can impact not only you but those around you, whether that is personally or professionally so I feel it is vitally important to promote a positive culture of having mental wellbeing at the forefront of every practice’s core values and for every member of the team to feel comfortable and able to express themselves.
7. Why do you think diversity, inclusivity and widening participation are so important in the veterinary profession?
Having a diverse profession is demonstrating we can all bring something unique to the veterinary profession with our own personalities, strengths and skill sets, often influenced by individual experiences. It also enables us to be reflective of the diverse clientele and have natural empathy.
It is important to ensure that those that are underrepresented in the veterinary profession are given the opportunity to share their experiences and be involved in moving our profession forward and influence change for the better.
It also opens up the opportunity to share different opinions, thoughts and ideas, often challenging the norm, which is needed.
8. What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting in the profession?
Look at your training and learning path as a puzzle. Each skill you learn is a piece of that puzzle. Over time, you will fit all of the pieces of the puzzle but it can only be completed by collecting all the pieces and putting them together.
9. If you had to pick one thing that you love most about veterinary nursing, what would it be and why?
I love how we all come together as a team and share our unique set of skills in all aspects of veterinary medicine to make a patient better. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a patient go home after being nursed back to full health.
Every member of the practice team is individual and brings something unique. We should recognise that and use it to our advantage to develop the profession further to ensure everyone regardless of their characteristics continue to be welcomed and given the opportunity to be heard and be valued.