Hello and welcome to my VNAM blog!

This time the subject matter is resilience. It’s a word we have all heard a lot of over the last 2 years and during this time, we have all had to show resilience both professionally in the workplace and personally in our lives outside of work. Once again, we must acknowledge the losses that many have experienced over the last two, very difficult years and continue to support and check on those around us.

For many the World is a very different place, and many lives have changed forever – often not for the better – and our getting used to change can be scary and take time as we adapt to the new normal. I thought this quote summed things up quite nicely;

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”

― Elizabeth Edwards

The dictionary describes resilience as either ’the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or toughness’ or ‘ the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.’

I particularly liked the second one, and the idea of myself being personally squished and bouncing back into shape! To be honest I’m not sure I have a terribly elastic personality or indeed body, but I am fortunate enough not to have endured many of the difficulties experienced by others of late, and as such, I guess I am fortunate not to have had to call upon my own resilience often.

The human spirit is an incredible thing, and our own personal abilities to respond to difficulties in our lives vary tremendously. Once again I count myself as being fortunate enough to have a sunny disposition and usually an optimistic outlook. That’s just the way my brain chemicals work but I appreciate that for others, life can look very different, and the ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversity and difficulty can be much more challenging. Where we recognise that mental health and emotional well-being are harder to reach for some, it’s important that we extend our own resilience and lend a little of our own to others.

With things being so tough for so many, it’s easy to look around and always see somebody worse off than yourself, and to perhaps feel guilty for feeling unhappy with your lot. I was recently complaining about a chronic pain issue to a dear friend who has a painful and terminal illness. I felt ashamed as my words left my lips, knowing that her pain far outweighs my own. She swiftly corrected my shame and explained that suffering isn’t a competition in which she trumps me, but that my pain is still real and affects my life, and a bit of self pity now and then is not a bad thing. Her courage and understanding was inspiring and in itself, a reminder that resilience isn’t measurable but a constantly changing drive that alters to – hopefully – meet our needs.

Veterinary nursing is of course more often than not a vocational occupation, and factors such as financial motivation or a rise in the hierarchy are not often our drivers. This means we must find the rewards for the work that we do within our workplace and within the team in which we work, and if there is an issue within that workplace or team, then this can often be when the resilience that we so desperately need seems to leave us, just when we need it the most.

I’d encourage you to really think about the parts of your role as Veterinary Nurse that bring you the greatest joy. Those tasks that you really look forward to doing. Have a top 3 and ensure that every day in practice, you make time to do just 1 of those 3 things that bring you joy in the workplace.

The fact is, there will always be things we don’t enjoy doing and it’s easy to focus on the bad stuff! Part of being resilient is to take responsibility for the things we can control and to make time for the things that bring us joy.

We are blessed now to live and work within a culture where speaking of personal struggles – for whatever reason- are encouraged, and as such, our colleagues and friends can often give us the verbal boost or encouragement that we need in order to find our resilience once again. Remember, we ourselves rise by lifting others.

I’ve been very fortunate in the 22 years since I left veterinary practice and entered the wonderful world of the nutritional veterinary industry. I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with many incredible people over the years and to still be surrounded by many people that I consider to be not just colleagues, but very dear friends. I have visited many practices and many members of the veterinary Healthcare team. Almost without exception, I have found happy people in happy environments. However, I’ve also encountered environments where the tension, dissatisfaction and sadness are palpable, and I have wondered why people choose to work, and indeed remain in such an environment.

Although we must of course call upon our own resilience where we might encounter unfavourable attitudes or behaviours in the workplace, it must also be recognised that those in management roles have a responsibility to ensure our emotional well-being and physical needs within the workplace are met. I would encourage anyone to speak up if they feel that those they report to are falling short of meeting these needs. Resilience can only go so far in an environment where being optimistic and happy is, to say the least, a challenge.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to be resilient and help change things from the inside, not every position will be the right fit and that’s ok. Changing roles is a normal part of career growth and benefits both you and your workplace if the fit isn’t right. Veterinary Nurses are highly skilled individuals, much sought after, respected and loved. Don’t be afraid to seek out your happy practice if you’re not there yet.

To all Veterinary Nurses, celebrate your incredible profession this month, celebrate the essential work that you do, celebrate all the little extras, celebrate the team around you, but most of all, celebrate yourself.

Fi Marjoram C&GCertSAN CertVNut BVNACertSAN

Nurse Programme Coordinator – Hill’s Pet Nutrition Ltd