VNAM - a career in veterinary nursing

By Angela de-Zille RVN Education Advisor & Co-ordinator

My dream of becoming a veterinary nurse started when I was four years old. My dad and I took my newly acquired puppy, Pip, for his first vaccinations to the vets at the bottom of my road in South London.

We got to know this practice very well, as not only did our dog and cat (called Dinky who was the biggest ginger Tom I have ever seen!) go there, but my dad was also a dog trainer, so a lot of his clients were referred from there too. Because of this, I was able to work part-time ( after school and weekends) from the age of 13 and I also did my school work experience there.

After leaving school, I then joined a different practice, on a youth training scheme. This was a government-funded scheme where you were placed within a business to learn a skill and obtain a year’s worth of experience, to help you find employment. At the end of the scheme, I was offered 2 different jobs and I accepted the one working in a small animal practice by the sea, in Folkestone Kent.

I completed my training and after an awful lot of work, blood, sweat and tears, and became a fully qualified nurse in 1988.

Since then, I have enjoyed working in general practice, as a locum nurse, in emergency and critical care, as a head nurse and as a practice manager.

I hung up my scrubs in 2017 after 32 years of full-time employment. This was a decision based on many aspects, including the fact that my knees were starting to give out ( always look after your back and knees peeps !) and it was time to try something new.

I wanted to stay connected to the veterinary world and was fortunate enough to join Millpledge Veterinary as a sales representative, working within my territory in the South East of England. I loved this, and I took on this new challenge enthusiastically! I was given a car, phone, laptop and iPad and a list of customers within my territory, and off I went!

My job was to speak with veterinary staff across the southeast, visiting numerous practices each day promoting all things Millpledge! I got to speak to lots of different people each day, helping them with their day-to-day working needs.

I thoroughly enjoyed all this interaction with our customers, the travel around the country, and attending shows and conferences. As an international company, I love the overseas travel that comes with the job, such as Orlando, Las Vegas and Germany.

Adapting to Covid, we introduced new ways of working, adjusting how we engaged with our customers and increased the number of digital resources including product videos, promotional materials, useful articles and resources and CPD delivery. CPD is still a huge part of what we offer. I became a huge part of the CPD and became the 'go-to' person for educational content.

As the company evolved, so did I and was able to transition my role into more educational work. I am no longer a sales representative and have become the company’s education advisor and coordinator. We continue to provide our CPD talks remotely, but we also have held several successful evenings, where we host a bandage talk in a particular area of the country and invite all the local practices to attend. We have several different sessions planned for our popular bandage talk and are hoping to launch our fluid therapy talk very soon.

Angela de Zille giving a talk
Image of Angela de Zille giving a talk

I am super proud of everything I have achieved in my career and continue to achieve every day. I am so proud of becoming a qualified Veterinary nurse and fulfilling my 4-year-old self’s dream.

I am so proud of the fact that my skill and knowledge within a clinical setting have enabled me to help so many different patients, the most memorable of which was an orca called Peggy, who got washed up on Ramsgate Beach!

I am so proud of all of the 30-plus students, who have achieved their qualification, with a little help and guidance from me, as their clinical coach.

I absolutely loved being a veterinary nurse in clinical practice and am grateful for the opportunity to have worked in so many different fantastic practices throughout my career.

I continue to love being a veterinary nurse and I adore the role I have now and the progression I have achieved within Millpledge in a relatively short period.

I am so proud and flattered that Millpledge placed its faith in me and has allowed me to develop the educational programme. In this way, I can continue to help and guide not only qualified staff but the future generation of veterinary nurses.

But I think what I am most proud of is the fact that I am STILL a Registered Veterinary Nurse.

That I am STILL utilising my skills and knowledge in my everyday work, and that I am STILL helping my beloved animals, just as I promised I would, 35 years ago.

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