Dear Reader

September denotes the start of autumn and a time of reflection, it also marks the end of my long association with the VNJ as I am standing down from my most recent role as commissioning editor. In the spirit of reflection I thought it would be beneficial to take a dip into past issues of the journal in order to see how far we have progressed as a profession and what lessons may be learned for the future.

Having been a veterinary nurse for more years than I care to remember, I am in the enviable position of having accumulated an extensive library of VNJ’s, including some of the original newsletters. Whereas now the journal includes articles that explore technical and professional issues, ranging from accountability via complex anaesthetic monitoring to supporting bereaved clients; a quick trawl of the January 1974 issue shows that its contents included an announcement of the first ‘Animal Nursing Conference to be held at the Hotel Russell, London.’ The six speakers included such luminaries as Leslie Hall, Phyllis Croft and Craigan Barnett, all veterinary surgeons. The single veterinary nurse speaker was Rita Freeland, RANA, better known today as Rita Hinton! The journal’s editor, Janet Dickson, wrote in her editorial that ‘The choice that you may have to make is either subsidise the Journal in some way, … or cease publica-tion.’ Thankfully the VNJ is still with us over 40 years later!

And what of the next 40 years? I’m pleased to see that our associ-ation is planning hard for the future and one of the most exciting recent innovations has been the introduction of student council members, I’m sure the ability to tap into their enthusiasm and drive will pay dividends in years to come.

Veterinary nursing is evolving into a semi-autonomous profession and I’m hopeful that the VN Futures initiative will lead to a greater understanding of what it means to be a member of the profession, at present this is not at all clear. Whilst some of the elements of professionalism are firmly in place, for example an explicit code of conduct, there is still a degree of ambiguity regarding the exact nature of the specific professional activity undertaken by the RVN, is it largely vocational or is it technical in nature? Is the RVN expected to be an adaptable ‘jack of all trades’ or is there a central thread of well-defined nursing practice that serves to identify the core function of the veterinary nurse, upon which a number of additional technical/specialist roles may be added?

What is beyond doubt is that a profession must be supported by its own theoretical foundation, and critical appraisal of veterinary nursing practice is the cornerstone of such a strategy. We need to work hard to instigate an environment that encourages this mind-set. With that in mind I recommend that you attend the clinical abstracts session at congress next month to listen to the latest in veterinary nursing research. See you at Telford!


Sue Badger MEd CertEd RVN

DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2016.1215668

VOL 31 • September 2016 • Veterinary Nursing Journal