Georgia’s career journey as a Veterinary Nurse has taken her all the way from traditional mixed practice to the Weight Management Clinic at Liverpool University as their specialist Veterinary Nurse. Her interest in nutrition set her on this path and she now holds both Level 4 Certificate in Canine and Feline Veterinary Health Nutrition (CertCFVHNut) and a VTS (Veterinary Technician Specialist) qualification in Nutrition. She not only helps the patients that come to see her in clinic, she also lectures and teaches widely on nutrition and obesity management in pets. You can follow her and find out more about her working life and passions on her Instagram page – The Fat Vet Nurse
My name is Georgia Woods-Lee RVN, CertCFVHNut, VTS (Nutrition) and I have been working as a veterinary nurse for 20 years, qualifying as a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) in 2004.
Veterinary nursing has always felt like a natural path for me. I grew up on a small holding with chickens, pigs, sheep, ducks, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs and like many of us was inspired by watching James Herriot and Animal hospital on TV, so working with animals felt like an obvious choice. There are many individual reasons for wanting to work with animals but for me, I wanted to make a meaningful difference, to both the pet I was caring for, and to the pet owner – I still do!
My first training practice in Shropshire was a small independent mixed hospital and as part of a small nursing team I was thrown in at the deep end straight away with patient care – both large and small, anaesthesia and emergency out of hours work, taking calls from not only small animal clients but large animal owners also. As with many smaller practices there was a high ratio of vets to nurses so although I had a great introduction to veterinary practice, after my first year of college studying for my veterinary nurse qualification, I felt I needed to gain more practical nursing skills to become a highly skilled qualified RVN and so I moved to a large first opinion and referral hospital in Cheshire. Here I learned so many more practical skills from a much larger nursing team and working with specialists in a purpose-built hospital with excellent levels of patient care was very enjoyable.
As part of a big team, it became apparent that each of us had an area we particularly enjoyed and for me this was firstly talking to clients, be it on admittance or discharge of patients or out of hours. It soon also became running clinics for weight loss and having discussions about nutrition. I found speaking directly to owners, getting to know them and their pet was very rewarding and was an area within my team I felt I could really own and become good at, as few others had much interest in the topic. At this point I had no idea where this love of nutrition and client communication would eventually take me.
I qualified from this hospital in 2004 and a personal move to the Manchester area led me to seek work closer to home. I had done much emergency work since the start of my training and so took a position working permanently in an emergency and critical care out of hours service for an independent group with a busy hospital taking emergency calls for much of the south Manchester area.
After 5 years of ECC night work I had my first daughter and with the strains associated with this type of work I felt I could not return to working unsociable hours, so when the opportunity came up while I was on maternity leave to become head nurse of a new branch practice within the group I worked for, I jumped at the chance.
Running a small branch and training student nurses was extremely enjoyable, and now I had the perfect opportunity to get to know our client and patients and to set up and run nursing clinics. Together with all my other head nurse and nursing responsibilities I ran many successful clinics e.g. obesity clinics, senior clinics, diabetic clinics and we held weekly puppy socialisation parties. It was during my time as head nurse I had my second daughter.
I have always wanted to learn and to progress in everything that I have done, so in 2015 when a unique position at the University of Liverpool was offered to me, I could not refuse the chance to specialise in my favourite topic.
My position at the University of Liverpool as the ROYAL CANIN® Weight Management Clinic Nurse has far exceeded my original expectations. I feel I now play a vital role in the running of the clinic, I am involved with the research the clinic undertakes and I am able to educate others on this area. Working at the clinic has not only taught me a huge amount about managing pets with obesity, but it has also shown me the importance of excellent communication with clients and how my support and guidance can really make a difference. It is hugely rewarding to see the combined efforts of the clinic and its clients result in a pet who has lost weight and who has a much-improved quality of life. THIS is why I do what I do; To help those pets who suffer with obesity and there are sadly many!
Finally, my position has also afforded me the opportunity to lecture frequently on my area of specialty, not only in the UK but in many countries around the world, in person and via webinar. I have also had many opportunities to write frequently for various types of publications, most recently in 2021 the BSAVA Guide to Nutrition, which has been very well received.
Working in obesity and more widely in nutrition is a huge topic and endlessly interesting, so again wanting to learn more in 2017 I gained my certificate in Canine and Feline Veterinary Health Nutrition and in 2019 I undertook the very difficult task of completing the American Veterinary Technician Specialist in Nutrition certificate. This qualification entailed a substantial case book of 60 case studies, 5 extended case reports and the hardest exam I’ve ever sat. To make it even more challenging the exam had to be taken in America, so I found myself on a whirlwind three-day there-and-back-again trip to sit the exam. I am extremely proud therefore to be one of only 25 veterinary nurses or veterinary technicians in the world to hold this accreditation and I now mentor others while they also work towards gaining this qualification.
I can truly say that I love what I do and feel very fortunate to be able to work in an area I am so passionate about, but most of all to be able to make such a tangible difference to pets and pet owners and the wider veterinary community with the work I do.