How can the veterinary nursing community support SVNs during COVID-19?

At BVNA, we are committed to supporting the growth of the veterinary nursing evidence base, and this includes promotion of research projects carried out by both SVNs and RVNs. You will see that we regularly share research project surveys via our blog and social media channels – and we are grateful to the whole profession’s continued support in completing these questionnaires.

This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, SVNs’ options for carrying out research have been much more limited, and we will inevitably see an increase in the number of surveys being distributed. We ask for all members of the profession to support these SVNs to complete their courses during a very challenging time, by participating in these surveys where they can.

Hear more from VN Educator Network participants, Hilary Orpet and Sarah Batt-Williams, both from the Royal Veterinary College:

‘It has been well documented that the outbreak of COVID-19 has changed almost everything that we do and yet our profession has pulled together and continued to provide as close to ‘business as normal’ for those in our care. For some, that will be animal patients and their family members, but for educators, that means maintaining normality for Student Veterinary Nurses.

Lessons have been delivered online, exams have been postponed or proctored (computer software that track the user through a webcam) and catching up between lectures is a distant memory. Our students have adapted fantastically and are an asset to the veterinary nursing profession. For most here at the Royal Veterinary College, the first thing we have been asked is ‘when can I return to placement’! Our heartfelt thanks goes to the placement providers who have been able to facilitate the students’ return and re-rebuild confidence in our students after long breaks from practice. We hope that the additional pair of hands in the practice has helped during these difficult times. For those that have not been able to accommodate our students, we also thank you for considering the option and we understand why it has not been possible at this time.

As practices develop new strategies to incorporate students into their practice and education providers develop new ways to deliver the theoretical content, we still face a significant challenge in which we would like to ask the RVN body to pull together once again to help mitigate. This challenge is that we still face is the requirement for final year students on some courses to complete a piece of research. Whilst normally students have the pick of undertaking clinical, laboratory or social based research projects, this year the options are reduced. Many laboratories are protected for funded studies and the constant uncertainty of local and national lock down in addition to potential requirement of self-isolation, means that clinical research is less favourable this year. Online studies to fill knowledge gaps within our profession will be a popular choice. Survey fatigue from the VN profession is often reported each year around the time that students begin to release their surveys. This is understandable as there is certainly a pinch point for this, but for this year, please consider the options that our students as a collective profession face and the barrier that they have already overcome to get to this point. Being able to process data and understand its implications in the wider field is an essential skill for the members of our profession to develop, part of this is receiving enough data to explore. By strengthening our newer members of the profession, we continue to build on the successes that our current members have already achieved. In addition to this, the research that our students carry out is essential in improving patient care and efficiency in the practice. If possible, when you see the surveys released this year, please consider how you can be of help and support as many students’ projects as possible, let’s get behind our students and support them in this final hurdle! And of course, if you have research questions that you would like help answering and you would be happy to work with a student on this, let us know! Thank you in advance.’

About the BVNA VN Educator Network

In Autumn 2019, BVNA launched its VN Educator Network, aiming to bring together those involved within VN training and education and to provide a space to enable them to collaborate. Just over a year later, there are now over 120 members of the Network, and regular Zoom meetings have been held throughout 2020 to discuss opportunities within VN education, and the challenges affecting VN training providers and their learners. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has provided a valuable resource for educators, and in turn, the SVNs they support.

If you are working within VN training, be it as Head of Centre, Programme Lead, Lecturer, IQA, in a pastoral role, or otherwise, we would be delighted for you to join to be able to share the benefits of collaborating with fellow educators.

If you would like to learn more about the VN Educator Network, visit our website page here, or contact BVNA’s Education Manager, Charlotte Bullard (