BVNA recently launched our new team of ‘BVNA Advocates’, a role which has evolved from our network of regional volunteers. The Advocate team is made up of six enthusiastic and proactive RVNs, from a variety of different backgrounds and career paths, who engage with the profession to organise online and in-person CPD on behalf of BVNA.

In this blog, we meet Joy Shutt, an RVN based in North Wales. Joy discusses the lessons she has learned along her veterinary nursing career path, along with why she chose to apply to become a BVNA Advocate, and what she enjoys most about volunteering.

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“I’m Joy and I’m a Registered Veterinary Nurse. I came into the veterinary profession in 2014, after completing a degree in Bioveterinary Science in 2011, then working at the Wrexham Cats Protection Adoption Centre for two years. I realised it was the health and welfare of the cats I was most interested in and veterinary nursing seemed to be the next step for me. I started as an animal care assistant and SQP, completed a level 3 diploma and joined the register in January 2019.  I am now the Head Nurse and Nurse Clinic Lead at my practice, which is accredited cat friendly. I am most interested in feline health and behaviour, consulting and peri-operative nursing. Recently I’ve completed a diploma in nurse consulting and a BSAVA nurse merit award in nutrition and this year the aim is to start a qualification in feline behaviour.”

Why did you choose to put yourself forward to become a BVNA Advocate?

“I joined BVNA as a volunteer in 2020, after six years of volunteering for my local Cats Protection branch. What interested me most was the opportunity to bring my own ideas for CPD to other nurses – if I wanted to know more about a topic, I was confident that others would too. Since COVID, BVNA in-person events have been a bit hit and miss so we are focusing more on providing webinars. Some of us will still run some in-person events in our areas too but the advantage to webinars is that we can work with any speaker to cover any area of nursing, not bound by geography!”

What do you enjoy about being a BVNA Advocate?

“Working with like-minded nurses is the best part – the new team of Advocates are keen and forward thinking, with a broad range of experience and skills. After the events, it makes me happy to hear from grateful nurses who have been inspired by what they’ve seen and heard, that’s why we do it. And as a bonus, we get to volunteer at BVNA Congress, the best event of the year!”

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your veterinary nursing career?

“Look after your own interests when making decisions, which works both ways. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed into a role or take on responsibilities if you don’t feel physically, mentally and emotionally capable. If the time isn’t right now, it may well be right further down the line once you have gained more life and career experience. But on the other hand, if you find yourself naturally wanting to do and achieve more and your role is evolving, make sure you have the recognition and renumeration you deserve. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and put yourself forward for opportunities, they worst you might get is a no but fortune favours the bold!”

How do you spend your time outside of work?

“If you know me, you know I love learning! I do spend a fair bit of time reading and doing CPD, which I enjoy. I have a miniature Schnauzer called Frank and we run a Facebook group for owners in my area, North Wales Schnauzers. I organise monthly walks so we and our dogs can enjoy our lovely part of the world together. I share some nursing content on my Instagram account @joy_shutt_rvn and I’m also a veterinary nurse course assessor for Colourful CPD, marking their certificate and diploma in VN consulting.”

What excites you about the future of veterinary nursing?

“The future looks so bright for veterinary nursing and the profile of our profession is growing every year. There are so many opportunities now to gain further qualifications, allowing nurses to pursue more specific roles feeling confident and empowered. I think it’s great that nurses are better recognised as professionals in their own right these days, offering important services no-one else does – can you imagine vets running weight management clinics? More of the same please!”