An introduction to effective leadership of teams

  • December 2018

Within a healthcare setting, effective team work is achieved when team members understand, believe in and work towards the shared purpose of caring and working for improving outcomes for patients. This sense of common purpose should however never be assumed. Team leaders should talk about it at every opportunity and ensure all team members are striving towards it within their daily work. Team leaders should develop a ‘teaming strategy’ to plan how their staff will act and work together. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that many veterinary nurses become head nurse or team leader with no leadership development training being offered; as the purpose of a team can seem so self-evident, it is often overlooked or wrongly assumed to be in existence by those new to a leadership role. This article will serve as an introduction to team development and leadership for those aspiring or new to the role.

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

  • November 2018

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.

A preliminary study investigating the use of rabbit-related Facebook groups in relation to rabbit health information

  • September 2018

Background:There has been a dramatic increase in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook over the last decade. However, limited research has been conducted focusing on pet owners' use of these sites for pet health information.Aim:The aim of this study was to gather, via an online anonymous survey, information from rabbit owners about their use of rabbit-related Facebook groups and determine if and how these group pages are used for rabbit health information.Methods:Responses from 304 UK rabbit owners who were members of at least one rabbit-related Facebook groups were received and analysed.Results:The majority of participants were a member of more than one rabbit-related Facebook group. The most common reasons for joining such groups were to ‘to keep up to date about rabbit-related information’ (84.9%), ‘to learn more about rabbits’ (78.0%) and ‘to discuss topics about rabbits with like-minded people’ (71.1%). Just over half of respondents (52.3%) joined rabbit-related Facebook groups to ‘seek advice about the health of my rabbits’. Nearly half of owners (41.3%) deemed Facebook groups as a trustworthy source of rabbit health information. The most common health issue Facebook group users asked about was gastrointestinal related.Conclusions:Results of this study highlight the importance of veterinarians and veterinary staff engaging with social media pet health groups to facilitate owners sourcing accurate and reliable online pet health information and seeking timely veterinary treatment.

The role of reflective practice in professional development

  • September 2018

Reflective practice (RP) is a process of critical evaluation and self-assessment whereby one deeply explores an event in order to learn from experiences, and consequently undertakes a change in perception or behaviour. RP can benefit practice through enhancing professionalism and encouraging self-directed learning (SDL). SDL is an important part of the lifelong learning undertaken by registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) who participate in ongoing continuing professional development (CPD). CPD is traditionally delivered using an input-based model, where the time in attendance of activities, such as lectures and seminars, are accrued. Although this model ensures a learning activity has been undertaken, it does not ensure any actual learning has occurred, and whether there has been a resultant increase in professional competency. As such, an outcome-based model of CPD has been proposed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which includes planning, doing, recording and reflecting. The addition of RP to this new cycle ensures that RVNs explore the completed CPD activity more deeply, and consider what specific learning has occurred. This learning can then be measured as outcomes, which may include, for example, improvements to patient care, client service delivery, local processes, the wider organisation, or the management of staff or students. There have been concerns expressed within the profession about the proposed move to an outcome-based CPD model, including the increased time that measuring and recording outcomes will add to the process. If the implementation of this new model is to prove successful, these concerns will need to be addressed.

Setting up a cat friendly clinic

  • July 2018

Despite the increase in popularity of cats as pets, there has not been a similar increase in the amount spent on feline veterinary healthcare. The stress experienced, both by the cat owner and cat, has an impact on the willingness of owners to bring their cat to a veterinary clinic. There are many ways veterinary clinics can minimise stressors, and even small changes can make a big difference for the cat and their owners, which strengthens the bond with the owner and increases the welfare of the cat.

Preparing students for practice

  • April 2018

Traditionally education has prepared veterinary nursing students well to have the knowlege and practical skills to care for patients to the best of their ability. However, in recent years, more emphasis has been placed on the emotional aspects of nursing, and education has had to adapt to prepare students to look after their own wellbeing as well as that of the animals or owners. This paper summarises recent work on this topic and brings together a variety of different ideas put forward by both veterinary and veterinary nursing educators.

Portrayal of professions and occupations on veterinary practice websites and the potential for influencing public perceptions

  • December 2017

Aim:Veterinary practice websites have the ability to attract and retain clients. They also have the potential to influence clients' perceptions of the veterinary team. This paper investigated ‘Meet the Team’ pages on UK practice websites to identify the current portrayal of veterinary professions and occupations.Method:One hundred random practices, treating any species, were selected from the RCVS' list of practices. Information on the team was collected.Results:Meet the Team pages existed on 82 websites. All Meet the Team pages included veterinary surgeons (VSs). Veterinary nurses (VNs) were included on 82.9% of pages. Of the 14 pages that did not include veterinary nurses, six pages belonged to practices which did employ veterinary nurses. ‘Other’ occupations (such as receptionists and administrators) were included on 90.2% of pages. Of the eight pages that did not include other groups, four belonged to practices which did employ other groups. According to their biographies, 76% of VNs are RVNs, 13% are qualified, while 11% had no indication of qualification. There was no significant difference between the proportions of individuals per profession who had photographs within their biographies, or between the focus of photographs per profession. VS's biographies were significantly longer than VN's.Conclusion:The analysis was largely reassuring. The majority of practices included all groups which make up their team. However, some do not, or put more emphasis on certain groups, which may influence clients' understanding and value for other members of the veterinary team. Some suggestions for Meet the Team pages are made.

Is veterinary nursing a visible profession? Part two

  • November 2017

With recruitment, returning to work and retention being key to the future of veterinary nursing what are the issues that are common across all these areas? Veterinary nurses have limited visibility in their role. There is also the lack of a media image that reinforces the veterinary nurse skills base and a lack of veterinary nursing presence in the financial aspect of both business and client relations. These factors all contribute to a role that is hard for people to visualise and define. In part two the financial worth of the veterinary nurse is discussed in relation to visibility in the practice and visibility for clients. The impact of this is reviewed in relation to veterinary nursing careers and recruitment, returning to work and retention, including gender inequality.

Is veterinary nursing a visible profession? Part one

  • September 2017

With recruitment, returning to work and retention being key to the future of veterinary nursing what are the issues that are common across all these areas? What they wear gives veterinary nurses limited visibility in their role. There is also the lack of a media image that reinforces the veterinary nurse skills base and a lack of veterinary nursing presence in the financial aspect of both business and client relations. These factors all contribute to a role that is hard for people to visualise and define. In part one of this two part series the uniform and presentation of a veterinary nurse is examined including looking at all the aspects that present a professional image. The impact of the television image on veterinary nursing visibility is reviewed and set in the context with the history of the nursing image.

Veterinary nursing uniforms: their role in infection control

  • February 2017

Veterinary nursing uniforms play an important role in infection control. However we rarely encounter protocols or advice in the veterinary industry about how to ensure our uniforms are as clean as possible. The veterinary nursing community needs to introduce protocols to improve uniform hygiene by considering where they are worn and how they are cleaned.

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