The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is encouraging vet practices to recognise and reward the invaluable assets of vet nurses.
This year, they have a special focus on the talents and versatility o veterinary nurses in practice.
The initiative, which is in response to a recent survey of registered veterinary nurses (RVNs), is spearheaded by BEVA’s new VN committee and championed by BEVA President David Rendle.
It aims to help RVNs find their full potential in practice, which, in turn, will help practices increase efficiency.
A recent survey of RVNs by BEVA’s new nurse committee identified that one of the main problems facing equine nurses was a poor understanding of what nurses can do in their role throughout the profession and among clients.
Respondents believed they could be given more responsibility and do more in their roles, and that there was a lack of opportunity for progression.
“RVNs are a significant an asset to any equine practice,” said David Rendle. “They have invested a lot of time and effort to become highly skilled, but in some instances, their significant attributes are not being used to the full.
“Allowing RVNs to perform the clinical tasks that they are qualified to carry out under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, will provide better job fulfilment and career development as well as free up veterinary surgeons to carry out other tasks, all increasing the efficiency of the veterinary team.
“I feel, and the RVN survey results would seem to confirm, that veterinary surgeons and practice managers do not appreciate how much veterinary nurses are allowed to do in equine practice.
“We all know veterinary nurses have the ability; look at what they do in small animal and human nursing, but we have felt unnecessarily constrained by Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and the associated RCVS guidelines.
“If you actually look at Schedule 3 it is clear that we can and should be letting our qualified equine nurses do far more.
“There are so many things in equine practice that nurses do better than vets. In addition to performing clinical tasks, they can add wider value; they are generally (or are perceived by clients to be!) more patient, empathetic and caring.
“So we should use these skills and get nurses to take on some of the roles that take more time and require longer client interactions – discussing parasite control programmes, running weight loss clinics, reviewing healthcare plans, making follow-up phone calls and visits to name just a few.
“Nurses can take a lot of pressure off vets and can add a significant revenue stream for the practice.”
To help support career development for RVNs, BEVA has lined the following initiatives this year:
- 09 February 2023: Online career discussion forum to discuss the role of the nurse and how their skills, experience and knowledge can be better used. (This is free for BEVA members and all members of the practice are encouraged to participate)
- 09 March 2023: A practical CPD day for nurses on setting up nurse-led weight management clinics
- 18 April 2023: Online CPD course for nurses on holistic care of surgical cases, pain scoring, physiotherapy and environmental enrichment.
- 13 September 2023: Presentation of the new BEVA equine nursing award at BEVA Congress
- 16 September 2023: Dedicated nursing sessions at BEVA Congress including a debate on the role of equine nurses and the interpretation of Schedule 3
- Winter/Spring 2023: Podcasts with nurses discussing how nurses feel about their careers in equine nursing and how practices can up their game to keep them happy and fulfilled members of the team
In addition to launching the VN Committee last year to give nurses a direct voice within the association, BEVA has introduced a dedicated forum for BEVA nurse members to chat directly to each other via the BEVA Buddy app.
Marie Rippingale, Chair of the BEVA Nurse Committee said: “Last year’s recruitment and retention survey revealed that 50 percent of nurse respondents were earning less than £25,000 per annum and 48 percent of nurses said they were likely to look for a new job in the next two years.
“When asked their top reasons for leaving, salary was the biggest reason, and common themes on what would help the retention of nurses included salary, work-life balance and career progression.
“The review of Schedule 3 is important so we can encourage delegation of tasks to RVNs.
“This will allow RVNs to demonstrate their value and worth, earning money for the practice and achieving job satisfaction at the same time. This will contribute positively towards the current retention crisis.”
To find out more about what equine veterinary nurses can do in practice visit the BEVA website.