With the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' new Royal Charter coming into place last month, the whole veterinary nursing profession in the UK is now regulated. Under this new Charter, all those VNs who were previously on the list, have been moved to the Register and we see yet another important development in our journey to full professional status. Regulation of all veterinary nurses continues to bring better protection for our patients, the public, and personnel working in veterinary environments. For many of us, regulation is validation, enforcing the way we have been practicing for years and ensuring that those who fail to uphold minimum standards of practice will be subject to serious consequences which will affect their ability to practice in future. However, regulation also brings with it new complications that we may have never considered and it highlights challenges in the way that we as a profession support our professional community to uphold high standards of care.
Increased professional liability is part of a larger framework of key responsibilities that our profession now holds. These responsibilities require attention to legislative requirements as well as compliance with professional and ethical standards of care. The consequences of not adhering to these standards affects our professional standing, not just for the VN in question, but also for the profession as a whole as public scrutiny casts a harsh light on any weaknesses in our community.
Most of us are already practicing to a high standard but for some standards of practice may be just under the ideal, and due to inter-practice relationships, and historical community perceptions of the clinic, misconduct of the VN may be going unnoticed or unreported. Unfortunately, this type of situation could be more common than we think; lack of professional role models, mentoring or exposure to experts in our field may in some situations have resulted in limited understanding of the significance of professional responsibility. It is important to realise that our profession is only as strong as our weakest link so it is our responsibility to support and encourage high standards of care even to those who may feel it is just out of reach.
Taking professional responsibility means more than just adhering to high standards of practice. As professionals, we owe it to our community, and to the public, to reach out, educate, inspire, and guide our profession. Every one of us is capable of making a difference to the patients that are in front of us. Some of us may also inspire student VNs who will go out and make a difference to all of their patients. All of us though need to reach out to our colleagues and share our passion about being regulated. We need to share how important it is to uphold the highest standards of care. We need to freely give our knowledge and provide inspiration for others who also need the drive to give back to their communities.
Most of us who have been practicing for many years are well aware of the variation in standards among veterinary practices and when we get together, invariably conversations drift to stories of the days of old, the challenges we have overcome and the amazing stories that we have been a part of. While it is easy to believe that poor standards of care are simply due to clinic culture and ineffective management, the reality is that every VN has the ability to make a difference in her or his practice, and in her or his profession. Regulation is not just about our new liabilities, it is also about our connectedness with our community; our responsibility to each other. How great it is to be here at a time when so many historical advances are being made in our profession. How great it is to be learning what it means to go forward together.
We hope you enjoy this issue.