Black AF, Winefield HR, Chur-Hansen A. Occupational stress in veterinary nurses: roles of the work environment and own companion animal. Anthrozoos. 2011; 24:(2)191-202

British Veterinary Association. Vet practices managing triple whammy of Brexit, Covid, and pet boom. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Coates CR. Motivation and job satisfaction in veterinary nursing. Vet Nurs. 2015; 6:(6)360-365

Developing resilience to thrive in veterinary practice. 2017. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Essadek A, Rabeyron T. Mental health of French students during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Affect Disord. 2020; 277:392-393

Fletcher D, Sarkar M. Psychological resilience. Eur Psychol. 2013; 18:(1)12-23

Fraser M. Preparing students for practice. Vet Nurs. 2018; 9:(3)132-137

Jackson D, Firtko A, Edenborough M. Personal resilience as a strategy for surviving and thriving in the face of workplace adversity: a literature review. J Adv Nurs. 2007; 60:(1)1-9

Kerrigan L. The case for resilience in veterinary nursing care. Vet Nurs. 2018; 9:(8)396-400

Lloyd C, Campion DP. Occupational stress and the importance of self-care and resilience: focus on veterinary nursing. Ir Vet J. 2017; 70:(1)

Meda N, Pardini S, Slongo I Students' mental health problems before, during, and after COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. J Psychiatr Res. 2021; 134:69-77

Mills G. Resilience training: does it work?. Vet Rec. 2016; 179:(23)

Mind Matters. Mind Matters Initiative. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Mind Matters International. Impact of covid-19 on mental health of the veterinary team. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Mind Matters/VN futures. Report of the student veterinary nursing wellbeing discussion forum. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Owens M, Townsend E, Hall E, Bhatia T, Fitzgibbon R, Miller-Lakin F. Mental health and wellbeing in young people in the uk during lockdown (COVID-19). Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022; 19:(3)

Oxford English Dictionary. Resilience. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Royal College Veterinary Surgeons. Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses. 2012. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Royal College Veterinary Surgeons. Guidance notes for newly enrolled student veterinary nurses. 2020. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Royal College Veterinary Surgeons. Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Workforce Summit: Recruitment, retention and return in the veterinary nursing profession. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Royal College Veterinary Surgeons. Report released with highlights and key outcomes form the recent student veterinary nurse wellbeing discussion forum. 2022. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Royal college of Nursing. Helping students get the best out of their practice placement. 2020. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Shaw CE. Euthanasia: not an every day experience. Vet Nurs. 2020; 11:(4)156-160

Bullying a serious problem in profession, say VN graduates. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

World Health Organization. Mental Health and COVID-19. 2021. (accessed 12 September 2023)

The 2014 RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Nursing Profession. 2014. (accessed 12 September 2023)

Reviewing the emotional climates of student veterinary nurses completing industry placements

02 September 2023
13 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 7



Student veterinary nurses (SVNs) are required to complete industry placements as part of their training. Veterinary nurse education helps prepare students theoretically and practically. This study examines how SVNs, from two cohorts of a foundation degree course in veterinary nursing from one education provider, felt during their industrial placement year and whether the preparatory support was sufficient during their time in veterinary practice.


There is little reporting of the emotions SVNs face prior to starting and following completion of their work placements and how educational interventions may have a positive impact on their experiences. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of SVNs' emotions pre- and post-work placement to help identify if there is a need for more targeted educational interventions during their studies to help them better prepare emotionally for the experiences they may face during their placements.


An online questionnaire was given to two foundation degree level 5 SVN cohorts during placement (pre and post) in academic years 2019–20 and 2020–21. In total, 54 responses were submitted to 22 questions (pre-placement) and 41 responses to 58 questions (post-placement).


The top three positive emotions were happiness, excitement and confidence. The top three negative emotions were sadness, anxiety and stress. The results indicated that students could benefit from protected time with their mentors and required clearer expectations prior to starting their industry placement and further support, particularly around animal euthanasia and building resilience. Limitations of the study included that the mid-study interventions that aimed to support the students may have impacted the results and, due to anonymity, we are unable to compare individual pre- and post-placement response rates.


Education providers could be doing more to provide SVNs with a toolkit to becoming emotionally agile and resilient so as to help SVNs emotional wellbeing and preparatory support with their industry placement year.

All student veterinary nurses are required to undertake 1800 hours in industry placement (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), 2020), gaining their practical skills alongside their knowledge and licence to practice. This study examines how student veterinary nurses (SVNs), from two cohorts of a foundation degree (FdSc) course in veterinary nursing from one education provider felt during their industrial placement year and whether the preparatory support was sufficient during their time in veterinary practice. As an industry should we be doing more to support the emotional wellbeing of our students and preparation for practice in their industry placement year, which has a set number of hours and practical skills in competency as a requirement of RCVS registration?

Mental health has been highlighted within the veterinary profession (Mind Matters, 2021; Mind Matters International, 2021; RCVS 2022), especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (Mind Matters International, 2021; World Health Organization, 2021). However, prior to this, there was already a noticeable trend within veterinary nursing programmes, where some students struggled to cope, unable to manage the stress and upset that comes with ‘the job’ and this ultimately taking a toll on their mental wellbeing (Black et al, 2011; Fraser, 2018). Both cohorts' industry placement experience in this study was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This most likely impacted the study findings but made us consider how we can strengthen the preparation for, and support of, our SVNs during their clinical period.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.