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An introduction to veterinary nursing leadership part one: getting to know yourself

02 November 2018
13 mins read
Volume 9 · Issue 9


Veterinary nursing is a dynamic and challenging profession requiring engaging and inspiring role models and leaders. It is widely accepted that the most valuable asset in any organisation is its people, however in today's ever changing and demanding healthcare environment, identifying and developing such leaders can be problematic. Avoiding the fostering of people who are not well suited to a leadership role is just as important as identifying and nurturing those with more appropriate qualities. This article will outline the nature of veterinary nursing leadership for people aspiring or new to the concept of leadership, and clarify the importance of selecting appropriate leaders in advancing the veterinary nursing profession.

Helen had been working at a veterinary practice for 12 years. Three years ago, the practice was sold to a corporate organisation and Helen was offered the position of Head Veterinary Nurse. As she was eager to advance her career and focus her talents on improving patient care, Helen accepted the position. As a hard worker with a strong sense of right and wrong and a desire to bring about much needed change, she was excited about the position and had lots of ideas. After a few months however, Helen began to feel increasingly frustrated with how things were versus how she felt they should be. She asked for a meeting with the CEO of the company and expressed her dissatisfaction that a number of her colleagues did not know key elements of their job and that when she had mentioned this to them she was met with poor professional behaviour from people who were many years her senior. Despite airing her grievances with her superiors, Helen felt that her concerns were not taken seriously and she became increasingly incensed by this, becoming quite emotional when discussing her colleagues' ‘flaws’ and the effect this was having on her. Over time, some of Helen's peers started to complain about her behaviour; they now perceived her as whining and immature and suggested that she just ‘get over it and move on’. As a result of this, her once good working relationships began to suffer, and she started having trouble focusing on the new company initiatives. She knew she was not performing as she should be, but could not see a way out of her predicament. She was stuck and increasingly unhappy, as she was right and the CEOs were wrong, and she did not see that she could, or should, change herself when it was her colleagues who needed to change!

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