WITH the support of VetPartners, Caroline Hallam has achieved her dream of becoming a qualified equine veterinary nurse.
The VetPartners Nursing School has equipped her with all the skills and knowledge to help her deliver the highest level of care to sick and injured horses.
I grew up with a love of horses and riding and knew that I wanted to work in the equestrian world. Five years ago, I was lucky enough to join Fellowes Farm Equine Clinic in Abbots Ripon, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, as an assistant veterinary nurse, which involved helping to care for in-patients and assisting the vets and nursing team.
I absolutely loved my job and it inspired me to want to learn more about caring for horses and train to become a qualified equine veterinary nurse.
In 2019, I was given an incredible opportunity by my employers and VetPartners. I was enrolled into the new VetPartners Nursing School based at Liphook Equine Hospital and began a two-year course in equine veterinary nursing, with funding provided by Fellowes Farm.
It was a privilege to be among the first intake of students at the school, which was set up by VetPartners to equip veterinary nurses with the best skills and knowledge. The course was for people just like me, who were already working in an equine or mixed practice but wanted to take the next step in their career journey.
The course involved me continuing to work at my practice and visiting Liphook Equine Hospital in Hampshire, where the equine nursing school is based, on block release for more intense learning. This really appealed to me, and I felt I was getting the best of both worlds.
While going away can be a lot to organise, visiting Liphook for one week of every month during term time was really beneficial. I could focus on my studies while having access to the veterinary hospital’s high-tech facilities and seeing first-hand all the topics we were studying.
I also enjoyed spending time with my fellow students, and we became just like a little family. We shared experiences of what life was like in different practices and chatted about our studies. We are all still in close contact today, often calling on each other for advice, and I’m grateful to have a friendly network of newly qualified equine nurses to collaborate with.
The quality of tuition at VetPartners Nursing School is excellent. Rosina Lillywhite, who runs the school is clinic nursing manager at Liphook, and I was impressed that we had someone teaching us who not only understands the job inside out, but is still carrying out a veterinary nursing role.
At Liphook, we had face-to-face lectures with the hospital’s vets, and everyone had years of practical experience and a particular interest or qualification in the subject they talked to us about. Their passion shone through and, as well as being informative, they had all the answers to our questions. They helped bring the course to life and it wasn’t just about spending hours reading from a text book.
The course is very comprehensive, too, and we studied 10 modules that have prepared us for anything we might experience in our jobs. Study units include diagnostic imaging, anaesthesia, theatre nursing and critical care and my favourite was anatomy and physiology.
Back at Fellowes Farm, I would continue learning as I carried out my day-to-day role, supported by the veterinary team. As well as getting more practical experience there was also an online portfolio and assignments to complete.
My time on the course did have an extra challenge, which was the Covid lockdown, and there was a period when we were unable to travel to Liphook. This was disappointing, of course, but the learning moved online and I was impressed that we were still being given a high level of training during such difficult times.
This was certainly proven when everyone in my year passed their exams and was awarded a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Equine). Our final results were determined by assignments, online tests and proving our knowledge to the examiners in a series of practical exam, so it was a very thorough process.
I am immensely proud to have become a qualified equine veterinary nurse – and I’m proud of my fellow students, too.
The training I received has really boosted my confidence and now I have the diploma I trust myself to offer the highest standards of care. I’ve always aimed to be the best I can be, but now I have proof that I can provide expert care for patients and give sick or injured horses the very best chance of recovery.
I’m also enjoying all the extra responsibilities my role as an EVN brings. I’m able to perform certain tasks independently, so I can monitor my own patients, perform some clinical exams and administer medications. It’s great to feel I am actively participating in patient recovery and it also helps the veterinary team work super efficiently
I’m very grateful to Fellowes Farm for investing in me and my career and I’m so pleased that I now have these additional skills that can benefit the team, the practice and the patients.
VetPartners Nursing School is currently taking applications for September 2022. The two-year course is regulated by the RCVS and the awarding body is VetSkill. Students must already work in an equine or mixed practice, which can be a VetPartners practice or outside the group. To find out more or to enrol, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: vetpartnersnursingschool.co.uk
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