Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals

Animal Care Advice from Industry Professionals
Veterinary Nurse

Vet Nursing Student

Interview with Lee Fuller, Cert IV in Vet Nursing

Lee Fuller is an Open Colleges student in Queensland who is studying for her ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and working as a veterinary nurse at the same time. She also runs a business from home with her husband, and has four children. Her youngest child has almost finished high school, so Lee decided it was time to get out of the house and enjoy interacting with people again through veterinary work. She’s also researching doing further study using a $6,000 scholarship from the Australian Veterinary Business Association. Lee may be older than some students, but she’s a motivated people-lover who would rather be busy than bored!

Lee had a background in veterinary nursing before she left that industry to work in her family business and raise her family, so she found it easier than some to get work in a clinic, but she thinks Open Colleges’ work placement program is fantastic. The program involves students getting hands-on experience through learning practical skills under the direction of working veterinary professionals. The clinic she is working at currently has two students doing work placement, and she reports that they are learning a lot while getting industry experience at the same time.

If you want to become a veterinary nurse, then there are many ways to get the experience that will help you land a job like Lee has. Lee found work through Kookaburravets.com where vacant positions in veterinary surgeries are listed. You could also call up your local RSPCA office—they have many types of volunteer positions available. Or, why not visit a veterinary clinic in your local area, explain that you would love to shadow staff and learn all you can from them while you study for your qualification? As Lee says, motivation is the key factor: even her job was originally going to go to someone else, until they saw how dedicated she was!

1 How are you finding studying the course as well as working?

I’m finding it pretty easy. I am grasping the first study period’s material very quickly because in my previous course I studied workplace health and safety, and communications on top of that. So I’m flying through the material, and I’m already doing everything that a veterinary nurse does: I’m pre-medicating animals, I’m assisting in surgery, I’m doing it all.

Study-wise it’s just a matter of doing my videos, doing the modules, doing the assessments and getting it signed off. Then I’ll have my formal accredited certificate as the “piece of paper” for proof of my skills and knowledge.”

2 How did you go about getting your job? How did you go about applying for it?

I went through the website called Kookaburravets.com where there are positions for veterinary nurses in clinics, and also veterinary reception jobs. At first they had someone else lined up for my job, but I showed them I was enthusiastic and really wanted it.

3 Apart from being enthusiastic as you’ve mentioned, what advice would you give a student looking for a position who didn’t have the experience that you’ve had?

You need to be motivated. Volunteer your time. From my experience, I would suggest going into places like shelters, kennels and pet shops and saying, “I plan to study a course in vet nursing, however I need industry experience. Would you be prepared to take me on?” Many places will accept you for a work experience-type role.

Usually in an interview you can tell if somebody has initiative and a bit of “get up and go”. Being 50 years of age, I have experience on my side, and having run a business, I’m very savvy about marketing and about client relations. So when pet owners walk in the door I make them feel very special because I know they bring the money into the practice. That’s the sort of thing you need to do.

You’ve got to really want it. If you are determined enough, you can find a position. I feel the work placement program is fantastic. We’ve got a couple of girls that are doing it at my clinic, and they are learning everything. It’s a really good opportunity for them to get industry experience.

4 Tell me a little bit about the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. How are you finding studying something that’s so practical online? How’s that going?

It’s good, though there is a lot of information. From what I can see it’s all really relevant, especially a lot of the legislative information on workplace health and safety, because we all know that it’s very important nowadays to know and abide by the law. So I find that very straightforward, and the assessment process I found very simple as well. Using what I’ve been reading and also my past experience, I find it very easy to get through it.

5 What do you plan to do at the conclusion of your course? Are you keen to stay where you are in your current role?

I’ve spoken with my employer. She really wants to build her business, and I’m very interested in the marketing and the business side of things, so I’m investigating doing a practice management course through the University of New England. That would give me the capacity to virtually be a business manager in a veterinary practice.

I see this work as a growth area, because vets won’t do it: they don’t really want to be business people. They are looking for people who are business and marketing savvy. So I’m thinking about doing that after I’ve done my vet nursing course. I can actually apply for a scholarship through the Australian Veterinary Business Association. I just became a member, and there’s a $6,000 scholarship to do my veterinary practice management course.

Are you interested in getting into the animal care industry? Read more real life stories from a range of industry professionals here.