Nursing dreams realised thanks to grant

Two members of our veterinary team are pursuing their dreams of becoming qualified Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) thanks to a grant towards their studies.

With May being Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, Leigh Willson and Rachel Spalton, based at our Horse Hospital in Norfolk, have been reflecting on their journeys at the charity so far, from veterinary nursing assistants to becoming fully-fledged veterinary nurses.

Both have begun their studies at The Open College of Equine Studies in Suffolk, which has been part-funded by the Audrey Emma Lamb Charitable Trust, and - despite the Covid-19 pandemic - they have been able to continue their assignments online.

Their new qualification will mean they can expand the breadth of care they can give the rescued horses and donkeys at the Sanctuary – essential as we currently provide daily care for 1,500 of them!

Nicky Jarvis, Senior Veterinary Surgeon and Head of Sanctuary Care, said: “The support given to us from the Trust has been invaluable. At Redwings, we offer a home to equines who often require intensive treatment and prolonged aftercare so it’s essential we have a team in place able to deliver this challenging veterinary care.

“By having the opportunity to give two incredibly hard-working members of staff the chance to further their careers, we’re also expanding the capacity of our team so we can meet the increasing veterinary needs of our rescued residents.”

Veterinary nursing assistants make a hugely valuable contribution to the veterinary team by supporting the veterinary nurses during treatments and procedures, assisting with dressings and bandages, and monitoring the health of Redwings’ Horse Hospital patients.

But unlike RVNs, they are not recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and therefore cannot perform clinical activities such as taking blood samples, administering intravenous medication and assisting the vets with surgeries – all roles that are critical in supporting our diverse herds.

Leigh, who has worked at Redwings for four years, said: “"This is a really exciting opportunity for me. The training is improving my confidence in all aspects and being a qualified nurse would allow me to take on more responsibility in clinical duties and ICU cases, which I would really value.”

Rachel, who began her role at Redwings three years ago, added: “I’m looking forward to being able to undertake more clinical duties, especially during surgery which I cannot assist with as a veterinary nursing assistant. The training will also allow me to teach new members of the team at Redwings, just like the nurses here taught me.”

We wish them both the best of luck with their studies! 

Please click to find out further information about careers at Redwings.