Abby is a Registered Veterinary Nurse living in the Cotswolds in the UK and working in the local Out-Of-Hours clinic and she has found her perfect life/work balance! She also has an interest in animal behaviour. She already has her Nursing Certificate in the subject and is studying for her Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. You can follow Abby on Instagram, where she shares her life, her dog Doug and her pet cows!
I’m Abby and I’m a 28yr old RVN from the Cotswolds. I have been in practice 8 years now and qualified nearly 4. I started off as a receptionist in a small first opinion practice and left after 6 months to train as a student nurse at a purpose-built practice. I completed my training at Hartpury College.
After a year in first opinion, I started locuming for our Emergency Out of hours practice at weekends and on bank holidays. In my second year of being qualified, I undertook the Improve Certificate in animal behaviour.
During my time locuming, I found a new love for emergency work. It also helped me to empathise with the out of hours team and what high levels of pressure they are under when day practice closes. I went for a senior nurse role within my day practice and sadly did not get the job, however, this made me realise I wanted a more managerial position. 4 months later, the head nurse position came up at our OOH provider and I went for it. The interview was intense and I was very unsure if I would even be considered (real imposter syndrome!).
When I found out I had got the job, I couldn’t believe it and I was very keen to start.
It was a complete change for me. Although I had previously locumed, doing the work full time and taking on management was very different from what I was used to. Nights were daunting at first and I was unsure how I would cope with the 15-hour shifts. Very quickly I realised that this was definitely the career path for me. With the long shifts, you complete your allotted hours very quickly. The rota is made to make sure that the work life balance is beneficial for all members of staff. On average, the team do 2 or 3 nights a week meaning they get plenty of time off. I also found I had lots of support with management work, this was flexible, and it meant I could manage it to suit me, completing a few hours a day helped me to stay in touch as well as having a good life balance.
I found that I was previously feeling burnt out and dreading the thought of going to work as It no longer excited me. When I started emergency work, that completely changed for me. I appreciate that it takes a certain personality type, but I really enjoyed the unknown. When I start my shift and the screen is empty, I enjoy the thrill of it lighting up and having minutes to prepare for a potential emergency. Even if the client has called ahead and given details, it is still unpredictable what level of emergency is coming down. For example, we had a dog who was bleeding from his back end and was really lethargic, the owners said he was critical and were unsure if he would make the journey. We prepped in practice as much as we could, crash box, oxygen, catheters etc. The patient arrived, waggy tail, very bright with an anal gland abscess. In contrast, we had an owner whose cat had come home with a small wound on her face and they would just like her checked. The poor cat arrived with her entire chin degloved and in need of emergency pain relief and surgery.
I really enjoy the different paces that we work at and the excitement of the unknown, some nights I can be in theatre all night and sometimes I can be on wards with up to 15 inpatients, either is fine with me!
For me the work life balance and the emergency and critical care work is what keeps my love for the nursing profession. I genuinely look forward to work and will regularly pick up extra shifts! My advice to anyone considering it would be to take a back shift, try it! You may just love it.