The VNJ appears

The first proper appearance of the VNJ took place at the beginning of 1985 (Figure 1). Volume 1, Issue 1, included details of the forthcoming BSAVA programme for Lay Staff, the term was still in common use to refer to staff other than veterinary surgeons. It consisted of 12 lectures across all three days of the Congress.

Figure 1

Rosie Dunford’s article on the nursing of cats with a fractured jaw advised syringe feeding with baby foods, homemade soup or Complan and the use of a baby’s bib to prevent soiling when administering the food. Jean Turner also provided an overview of training costs, including enrolment at Hounslow College for 35 evenings at a cost of £20 and RCVS enrolment of £24; whilst exam fees were £15 for the Preliminary and £22.50 for the Final exam.

In November 1985, the 20th anniversary of the BVNA marked another design change with the introduction of a plain white background and green print for the cover (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Inside, Kaye Daish wrote to the journal to complain that the editorial boards decision that letters should be typewritten rather than handwritten would put off some contributors! The placatory response from the editorial board was that this would be the preferred option, but would not be compulsory. When was the last time you put pen to paper?

News of the visit of Princess Anne to the BVNA stand at the BVA Congress was reported, including the fact that she spent several minutes talking about veterinary nursing to the VNs who were manning the stand. A possible future patron for the Association perhaps?

The classified advertisements included a vacancy for a trainee, salary £60 a week with college fees, uniform and lunch thrown in!

Publishing outsourced

The 90s saw the use of the first external publisher for the journal. Initially this was the BVA, and the result was much more inviting to readers with the use of colour and a significant increase in the use of images. In Volume 10, Number 6, November 1995, Kit Sturgess wrote about the diagnosis and treatment of parvovirus, a disease that was still causing heartbreak for owners (Figure 3).

Figure 3

On the social front, the BVNA celebrated its 30th anniversary by hosting a cocktail party at BVA headquarters in London.

The Runnymede Hill Veterinary Hospital in Egham was the subject of a practice profile written by Claire Jackson, who described a number of modern advances, including the storage of client records on computer and the use of an automatic processor for radiographs.

This format was replaced by an updated version in 1998, which saw a smaller image to enable a return to the practice of listing content on the front cover. In March 2001, Volume 1, Number 2 (Figure 4) the content included news that the RCVS and the BVNA had signed an agreement to enable the processing of VN student enrolments to be undertaken by the BVNA, whilst the BVNA president and vice-president met with representatives of the RCVS and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Defras predecessor) to discuss Schedule 3 in relation to the role of the veterinary nurse.

Figure 4

On the agenda was the proposal to permit Listed VNs to undertake minor acts of surgery on any species rather than just companion animals and the inclusion of student veterinary nurses within Schedule 3 to enable them to gain clinical competence under supervision whilst training. Aileen Brown wrote in her article on pregnancy in the cat that one of the traits found in the feline population was (and still is) superfecundation as the queen is happy to mate with more than one suitor which may result in kittens from more than one father. Not much of an issue for the common or garden ‘moggie’ but a nasty surprise for the pedigree breeder!

Clinical focus

The increasing trend to focus VNJ content on clinical nursing practice can be seen by now and is highlighted in this issue by the inclusion of an article on the nursing care of the external fixator patient by Kate Wiggins. Whilst the RCOs or Area Representatives, as they were then known, were obviously very busy with a total of 21 regions in operation.

In 2005, JCA took over as publishers and the VNJ took on another look with strong cover images and a glossier feel to the journal. There was also a greater emphasis on the inclusion of lifestyle features alongside articles and professional news. Volume 21, Number 12, in December 2006 (Figure 5) included a review of National VN Day, by this time a significant event in the VN calendar.

Figure 5

A number of concerns were voiced by VNs regarding the introduction of the Non-Statutory Register the following April and so Andrea Jeffery, the then Chair of VN Council, provided an overview of what the introduction would mean to RVNs. Six years on it is fair to say that most, if not all, of those fears were groundless.

Articles on the nursing care of the spinal patient by Emma Racher and the vomiting patient by Mark Maltman contrasted with more diverse features such as the League Against Cruel Sports, Una Farrells discussion of the use of snares in the British countryside.

Reflection of professional status

In 2008, publication of the journal was taken over by Wiley and both they and the BVNA have worked hard to develop a journal that complements the emerging professional status of the veterinary nurse. There is now less personal interest and more clinical nursing content, with up to eight articles per issue these days!

This is partly because the advent of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and e-mail alerts have provided greater opportunities for the dissemination of information and this has allowed a more specific focus o
n clinical content. The standard of our articles has increased and the confidence that veterinary nurses now have in their ability to write for the journal allows for a greater diversity than ever before.

This review has been a fascinating exercise for me, as the journals have provided a repository of information, much of which is now outdated but all the more interesting for that! So to end, my advice to you is that, whilst you may be tempted to dispose of your VNJs because they take up too much space, hang on to them as they will make fascinating reading in years to come. 


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.2045-0648.2012.00243 x Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 27 pp 440-441

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 27 • December 2012 •