A totally INSPIRING month – By Katie Ford

Updated: Jun 28

May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, and what an incredible set of human beings that we are taking the time out to celebrate. Having spent ten years in practice myself, I can wholeheartedly say that my career has been shaped and improved for the better by the nursing teams that I have worked with along the way. I’m sure that every veterinary surgeon reading this will have a multitude of impactful colleagues that spring to mind, and anecdotes as to why vet nurses really are superheroes; I’m so glad that this initiative exists. My eyes were further opened during the past few years. Veterinary nurses are not just vital members of the team, but incredibly inspiring, colossal forces in moving this profession forward, bringing positive change and self-advocacy. There is so much progression out there right now, and it deserves celebration. Between 2020 and 2022, I have become increasingly involved in the wider veterinary community and have been exposed to even more incredible professionals. From being a part of the Vet Times VN Happy Hour series to being an active member of the veterinary social media community, to being behind the scenes at the VetLed Veterinary Human Factors Conference to running Vet Empowered; I have been totally in awe of the veterinary nurses involved in these projects. There are so many incredible individuals in their own right trailblazing and forging change. This is not just an exercise in ‘look at all the work vet nurses do in the background’ anymore, but a case of ‘also look at the incredible work they’re doing in the foreground too’. I wanted to use this opportunity to celebrate and platform ten of the individuals out there that inspire me right now. This is just a teeny 0.0001% tip of the iceberg.

Here are 10 of those RVNs that are inspiring me right now!

Two things before I get started:

● I will speak mostly of achievements and accolades here, but each and every one of them are genuinely lovely, kind and encouraging people too - and far more than their job titles - this is the real reason they stick with me, the great interactions.

● Everyone that I speak of here has a public presence or profile, which makes it easier for me to share. You absolutely don’t need this to be inspiring, some of the most impactful vet nurses in my career have never touched social media, never given a talk nor gone for an extra qualification. 1. Jack Pye (@pye_rvn) Jack is a practising veterinary nurse working as a locum in and around Norfolk.Developing his own passion for ultrasound, he has become a trailblazer in empowering nurses to get involved in diagnostic imaging, teaching others via webinars and workshops. Not only that a BVNA council member, passionate about making change. Jack inspires me with his ability to harness a niche, engage an audience and inspire others to try new things. 2. Lacey Pitcher (@rvnspeaks) Lacey has recently taken on the role of senior outreach and engagement officer at the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, as well as having worked as a locum and content creator at Vets Stay Go Diversify. A passionate advocate for opening conversations around neurodiversity, and the most amazing creative writer, Lacey’s authenticity inspires me - taking a role and making it her own, breaking the mould on what society thinks and expects. I had the most beautiful conversation with Lacey, have a listen here. 3. Lou Northway (@louthevetnurse) Lou really did start to pave the way in using social media for good, and was one of the first to realise what a positive impact the platforms could have. At the time of writing, Lou has published over 2000 posts on her Instagram account alone; some serious content creation hours put in to help to inspire fellow professionals in practice and towards evidence based medicine. Lou was one of the original people to inspire me to get online and start sharing, realising what an impact could be created. 4. Helen Ballantyne I came across Helen at the VetLed Veterinary Human Factors Conference, and she blew me away. She is a dual qualified veterinary and human nurse and is Chair of the UK One Health Coordination Group. Incredibly knowledgeable, driven and geared for change, her other current role is particularly close to my heart as someone affected by organ donation, as she is the Coordinator for a Transplant Team. What an diverse career, really showing what transferable skills a veterinary nurse has. 5. Helen Silver-MacMahon (@vetledteam) Helen is like liquid joy and enthusiasm. Currently working as Senior Trainer and Content Development Lead at VetLed, as well as undertaking a PhD, I have had the pleasure of working with Helen on a number of projects. I love that Helen identified her passion in patient safety and non-technical skills, and with her own curiosity and hard work forged a career path that is making waves within the profession. I have never known someone have such an ability to take complex topics and make them interesting and relevant, and I know she has had genuine impact with the VetLed x Mind Matters collaboration on Civility Training recently. I could listen to Helen speak all day long, check out the podcast interview I did her with on the Veterinary Innovation Project in March. 6. Emily Holmes (@empoweringrvnmedia) Spending years spreading kind words and encouragement on social media, some will remember her as Sherlock The RVN or the Empowering RVN, she took the leap into social media content creation, launching her own business in 2022. Emily inspires me as diversifying can seem pretty terrifying at times to many, and she has grabbed the opportunity with both

hands, realising that her RVN skillset can be used for good, even when not in a clinical setting. She is one of the kindest people I’ve ever come across, always keen to cheerlead and support.

7. Hannah Olliff-Lee (@physio.rvn

Finding her passion, Hannah completed a diploma in Animal Physiotherapy and shares her wisdom across social media on the topic. Alongside this, she works as a Marketing Executive at her practice, bringing fresh insights and ideas, and once again showing what RVNs can do with their skillset. Hannah inspires me with her authenticity, and being unapologetically herself whilst also helping others to benefit from a topic that she loves - make sure you check out her Reels on Instagram.

8. Laura Jones (@vetinernalmedicinenursing)

Laura is a Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS) in Small Animal Internal Medicine, as well as Medicine RVN at a referral centre. She is incredibly inspiring in so many ways, from the business and engaged following that she has created, to the high quality content that she puts out. Her knowledge level is second to none, and I have learned so much from listening to her speak and reading her posts - yes, as a vet with a medicine certificate - she has put so much work in. I’d highly recommend you drop her a follow if you’re interested in nurse clinics or internal medicine.

9. Elle Payne (@thepositivevetnurse)

Elle Payne was one of the other original social media content creators, taking time to put out kind messages for the profession and ensuring that nobody feel alone in their worries or struggles. Always beautifully encouraging and empathetic, I’m sure there can’t be many people that don’t follow Elle already. I am incredibly inspired by how kind she is; we connected when I had 0 followers, and she was always keen to platform anything that I did, and still is. I am very grateful to have met Elle!

10. Molly Fiander (@molymedsupplies)

Molly shows you exactly how to make things happen, and she inspires me with her drive and ability to bring projects to fruition. Wishing to help independent veterinary based creators and business owners, Molly spotted a gap in the market for a multi vendor, online store where those in the profession could sell their products and buy from others. Taking this from an idea to reality was no mean feat, and I cannot begin to imagine the tech hours put in. Next time you need a gift for a vet nurse, check out MolyMed Supplies. She even won best stand at BVNA Congress in 2021!

This is just a snippet of who inspires me out there, there are so many more that deserve to be on here too. I’d love for us to use this month to champion, shout about and be inspired by this incredible group of professionals, part of the whole team.