As part of a larger project, called ‘Nursing Matters’, RVC researchers are calling for both registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) and student veterinary nurses (SVNs) to participate in a 20–25 minute survey to gain in-depth insights into how and why they may experience poor mental health.

This Vet Nursing Awareness Month (VNAM), the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has launched an anonymous survey as part of efforts to understand UK veterinary nurse (VN) mental health and wellbeing.

Whilst there is extensive research into the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary surgeons and veterinary students, far less research has been conducted on this topic with VNs. Despite similarities with veterinary surgeons in training and workplaces, differences in the history, context, education paths, and responsibilities between the professions necessitate a separate study of factors that may negatively impact VNs.

Additionally, since the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulatory body for the UK veterinary profession, recognised veterinary nursing as a profession in 2015, there has been an increased need to understand mental health challenges facing this population due to the higher responsibility and accountability involved.

‘Nursing Matters’ is a two-year mixed-methods project, led by the RVC’s Dr Tierney Kinnison, Lecturer in Veterinary Education, and Dr Jackie Cardwell, Associate Professor in Epidemiology, which will provide important benchmark estimates of UK RVN and SVN mental health and wellbeing, as well as exploring the factors that may lead to poor mental health. The study aims to identify issues relating to the workplace or educational institutions that can be changed to support better VN wellbeing, and to inform the development of supportive and effective clinical teams.

The project will include an anonymous questionnaire, launching 2nd May, that seeks to identify the state of the profession’s mental health, including opinions on potentially challenging topics such as euthanasia. All RVNs and SVNs in the UK are encouraged to complete it. It should take approximately 20–25 minutes, given the importance of the topic and the need to examine it in sufficient depth and breadth.

Dr Tierney Kinnison, project leader and Lecturer in Veterinary Education at the Royal Veterinary College, said:

“Veterinary nurses are key members of the veterinary clinical team and have received less attention than veterinary surgeons in mental health research to date. Responses from any RVN or SVN in the UK, whether they have been directly affected by mental health challenges or not, will be very useful for this research.”

Dr Jackie Cardwell, co-project leader and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, said:

“This is a great opportunity for RVNs and SVNs in the UK to have their voices heard and contribute to our understanding of how workplace culture and infrastructure can be improved to support their mental health and wellbeing.”

If you are an RVN or SVN who wishes to share your views or experiences as part of the project, the questionnaire can be accessed here.

The project is funded by IDEXX, a grant obtained with help from the Animal Care Trust, the RVC’s registered charity.