Balancing the demands of work with childcare and home schooling is one of the many challenges facing our colleagues during the pandemic.
Lucy Hartlebury-Forman, RVN at Haven Vets in Hull, discusses the tears, tantrums and triumphs of the past 12 months, and how she came through it all with distinction…
When I started a Diploma in Higher Education Clinical Veterinary Nursing in 2018, it never crossed my mind that I might have to complete it during a global pandemic whilst also home schooling my energetic five-year-old son.
As a single mother, blended-online learning was always going to be a challenge for me purely due to lack of time. However, I knew that my days off could be put to good use whilst my son attended school and I allocated my time wisely to allow me to complete assignments and revise.
Despite initially failing one of my exams, I managed to get through my first year and boldly went into the second, hopeful that I could continue and complete the Diploma.
Then, along came Covid-19 and by March 2020, a global pandemic was upon us. Schools, colleges, and universities closed, most veterinary practices became emergency only and many of us were immediately thrust into furloughed life. The challenges of home schooling and studying became purely a survival act. Trying to complete assignments and revise for exams became the biggest challenge I ever faced.
The amount of homework sent from my son’s school was hard to keep up with. I found myself staying up until the wee hours of the morning most nights just to get my course work done. It was mentally and physically draining and I found myself wanting to give up just to relieve the level of stress and exhaustion that I was feeling on a day-to-day basis.
I persevered and last May sat three written exams at my dining room table over three days. During these exams, my son watched the first three Star Wars films and repeatedly hit me over the head with a toy light sabre, despite the bribes, snacks, and desperate pleas for undisturbed peace.
By some minor miracle, I managed to pass the exams and returned to work at the end of my furlough leave in July. I found revising for my practical exams difficult due to not having time to revise at work and then having to home school on my days off.
Thankfully, I somehow managed to pass and felt relieved that the first qualification was complete. Now I just had the final integrative module to get through to gain Advanced Nursing accreditation. This went fairly smoothly despite the second lockdown in January and having to sit my practical VIVA exam in my bedroom via Microsoft teams, with my laptop balanced on top of my chest of drawers.
I qualified in February 2021 with a distinction and I sometimes find it strange to think that it’s all over. My life for the past two and half years has been dedicated to college work and home schooling and now I can actually focus on other aspects of my life.
So, whether you’re a student veterinary nurse looking to start your first year of nursing, or a qualified person looking to start a diploma or certificate, you are probably asking yourself if you can juggle homelife, work and studying.
Hopefully, my experience will provide an insight into what your life might be like should you choose to enrol onto your chosen course. It may be the most challenging thing that you will do, but as long as you have determination, courage, and a good support network to help you out when you feel like throwing your laptop out of the window (I did many times), you will get through it.
- Lucy attended Myerscough College, before returning to complete the HECVN and DipAVN. She works at Haven Vets and enjoys perioperative patient care, lab work and clinical coaching. She hopes to gain more knowledge on anaesthesia and provide in house CPD for veterinary professionals.