As my time on BVNA Council draws to a close, I thought that this would be a good time to have a look at the Veterinary Nursing Journal and pick out some of the more intriguing aspects of the development of our profession as portrayed in our associations journal.

My review of past issues has provided an opportunity for some personal reminiscences; but for many of our members the contents of this article will provide an insight into a world that bears little resemblance to that of today!

The VNJ is actually a successor to an earlier incarnation called the BANAA Newsletter – in the early days, the BVNA’s title was the British Animal Nursing Auxiliary Association and its journal was named accordingly.

Early days

The first issue that I have in my possession (from December 1972) was edited by Janet Dickson who was obviously an accomplished artist, as she was also responsible for the image of an owl on the front cover (Figure 1). This Newsletter bears little resemblance to the VNJ of today, as it was produced in black and white on a duplicating machine purchased by the Association for the purpose, and contained no illustrations or advertisements.

Figure 1

The contents provide a fascinating insight into the early days of the Association. The honorary secretary, Anne Keeley, reported that Council had met four times during the year and was investigating the possibility of holding a BANAA Congress in 1974, whilst a large- animal committee was being formed to investigate the possibility of developing large-animal training for VNs.

The list of course providers included colleges in Bournemouth, Macclesfield and Belfast, whilst London, Barking College of Technology, Chiswick Polytechnic and Kingsway F E College all ran the ANA course, as it was then called. Full-time courses were non-existent at this point and trainee nurses – they were not called students in those days – normally attended college on a day- release basis. These classes were, actually, generally half-day or evening classes.

The four articles in this early issue were also supplemented by a recipe for moussaka – presumably veterinary nurses in those days led very domesticated lives! The crossword that became an integral part of the journal for many years also began life in the Newsletter, in fact, it has been with us for many years and only disappeared from the VNJ recently!

St Francis arrives   

The next incarnation of the Newsletter appeared in the late 70s and sported a green cover with the image of St Francis of Assisi, which is familiar to all qualified veterinary nurses, appearing as it does on the RCVS badge (Figure 2).

Figure 2

In the February 1977 issue, our own Jean Turner gave advice on the showing of pedigree dogs, whilst Nicky Price regaled the readership with the tale of a tomcat called Tommy who lived a double life with two owners until he had the misfortune to encounter a car and arrived as a stray at the veterinary surgery for treatment. This included tail amputation and subsequent castration when owner number one claimed him.

Owner number two inevitably became aware of the circumstances and a tug of love ensued! Some things in life remain immovable, including the capricious nature of the cat! Although one thing that has changed is the widespread use of purple terramycin spray for all incisions post surgery, a trend that was commonplace in those days!

That issue also included an advertisement for a Lecturer in Animal Nursing at the Staffordshire College of Agriculture, one of only two full-time ANA courses at that time. The salary, which was based on the Burnham FI scale, was £4,701 plus a £312 cost of living allowance, a significant income for those days!

Landmark articles

Although the image of St Francis disappeared from the cover, the plain green appearance of the Newsletter remained in evidence until the end of 1984 (Figure 3). Significant events reported within its pages include the appearance of a new disease, called canine parvovirus, as reported in the May 1980 issue. In an article written by Irene McCandlish, two disease syndromes were described. Older animals generally developed enteritis, whilst very young puppies succumbed to the less common, but more devastating, myocarditis – victims of which had a 30 per cent chance of survival, with some puppies making an apparent recovery only to drop dead some months later!

Figure 3

The issue also published the RCVS statement on the use of feline panleucopaenia vaccine to protect dogs, as there was no canine vaccine at that time. This feline vaccine was, of course, unlicensed for use in dogs and there was considerable concern amongst veterinary practitioners about its use. However, it was effective and the alternative, as 1 remember well from nursing affected puppies, was very distressing.

The Newsletter was published on a quarterly basis and a dip into the Winter 1984   issue brings a sense of deja vu as the then chairperson, Rita Hinton, reported in her editorial that out of a total of 395 members canvassed, all but five voted in favour of a change in title from Registered Animal Nursing Auxiliary to Veterinary Nurse.

Actually, the title RANA was something of a misnomer as the Register only
referred to the list of ANAs that the RCVS maintained, rather than the non- statutory Register that exists today. Also included was the joint BSAVA/RANA Committee document on a Statutory Register for RANAs, which began with the statement that ‘the BSAVA supports the concept of a Statutory Register for RANAs… with no additional rights for RANAs and provided that provision is made to protect the rights of other lay staff’.

Nearly 30 years later, the subject is still being debated! Although the Newsletter was still being produced by the hard-working duplicating machine, the first intimation of the technological advances that we take for granted nowadays were telt with the news that the Newsletter s address labels were now being computer generated!

Part 2 of this review will pick up the story of the journal's evolution from 1985 onwards and will appear in next month’s issue of VNJ. 


Sue Badger MEd CertEd VN

Sue qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1976 and worked in a number of practices in the south of England and the Midlands until the late eighties when she joined the staff at the Berkshire College of Agriculture. She spent two years there before moving to the University of Bristol's Veterinary School to run the veterinary nursing course. She was instrumental in setting up Bristol’s first veterinary nursing degree and has taught both nurses and veterinary students until her recent retirement from the university. She has been a past President of the BVNA and was awarded the RCVS Veterinary Nursing Golden Jubilee last year.

To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2012.00231.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 27 pp 404-405

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 27 • November 2012 •