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Royal College Day 2020 speeches: outgoing VN Council Chair Racheal Marshall

Thank you very much, and good morning everyone. I am very honoured to speak to you today, and give a brief overview of a few things that have been happening in my last twelve months as Chair of the Veterinary Nurses Council.

Racheal Marshall, outgoing Chair of VN Council, delivers her speech at Royal College Day on Friday 10 July 2020

Watch a video of Racheal's speech

In my speech last July, I looked at where the veterinary nursing profession had come from and what had been achieved. I talked about the need to galvanize the next generation of veterinary nursing leaders to ensure that our profession continues to move forwards, so it was fantastic to see a record number of candidates in this year’s Veterinary Nurse Council elections. For the first time ever, we had more candidates than the vets, with the highest turn out of voters.

We need to keep up this momentum, as there are now over 18,500 VNs on the register and, whilst taking on roles in the wider profession is not for everyone, we need to encourage all nurses to engage with their profession.

Whilst it is good to reflect on what we have achieved, today I want to concentrate on the future of the veterinary nursing profession.

In the recently published report from the Legislation Working Party, it is fantastic to see that there are a number of recommendations which would lead to significant positive change to the veterinary nursing profession. These include protection of the VN title, separating employment from delegation, and enhancing the role of the veterinary nurse.

The RCVS is also exploring additional recommendations to enhance the VN profession including research into VN prescriber role. 

However, the publication of this report is just the first step; later this year there will be a full consultation with the professions and the public.

This is the opportunity for all nurses to provide their feedback and I urge every veterinary nurse to read the report, complete the consultation and encourage all their colleagues to get involved as well.

Things will not change if we sit back and rely on someone else to make it happen. We all have a part to play in the future of veterinary nursing.

One of the highlights of being VN Council chair is leading VN Day – our admission ceremonies at which veterinary nurses new to the Register are formally welcomed to the profession and invited to make their professional declaration in front of family and friends.

Unfortunately, due to social distancing requirements, we have been unable to hold VN Day so far this year, so I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate all of the nurses who have joined the Register in 2020 and I wish you all the very best in your future careers.

Social distancing measures have also meant that some OSCE examinations had to be cancelled resulting in some student nurses being delayed in completing their qualification and entering the Register.

I appreciate that this has been a difficult period for many students and their tutors. We worked hard, and considered all feedback, to establish an alternative assessment whilst ensuring that we maintained standards. Thank you to everyone who contacted us to share their views.

I am pleased that the decision in the VN Council meeting in June was to approve the proposal. I would like to thank every member of the taskforce for their invaluable contributions, and acknowledge the vast amount of work undertaken by the RCVS veterinary nursing team. They did an amazing job in writing the proposal and producing all of the guidance in an extremely short timeframe.

The Veterinary Nurses Council has also continued to work with the British Veterinary Nursing Association on the VN Futures project. It is great to see that the Advanced Veterinary Nursing qualifications, which were approved last year, are now being delivered by universities. Thanks to the RCVS web team, the VN Futures Project also has an excellent new website, which provides all the details and updates on the initiative, and is well worth a look.

In order to inspire future generations of veterinary nurses, we launched a pilot group in November working with STEM Learning with the aim of promoting veterinary nursing in schools.

With the project reaching the end of this cycle, now is the time to consider what comes next. I encourage you to think big and not be short-sighted about what the future of veterinary nursing could be.

It has been a great privilege to be the Chair of VN Council for the last two years. I have working with an amazing group of people on both VN Council and RCVS Council and, of course, the RCVS staff who all do a fantastic job. I would like to thank everyone for their support and guidance.

I would also like to thank my family, friends and work colleagues. I could never have done this without their understanding and encouragement. 

Thank you.

July 2020