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Kirsty Young

RVN PG Diploma in Veterinary Education

Candidate 3 of 3

Proposers: Samantha Fontaine, Abigail Joanne Barnes

Contact details

T 01387 860251
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Kirsty Young, 2024 VN Council election candidate Kirsty Young has been a qualified veterinary nurse with RCVS since 1999, and is currently Head of Veterinary & Animal Sciences at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Kirsty has led both further and higher education level of VN programmes during her career, recognises the benefits to different qualification routes. She has supported veterinary nursing students, and led veterinary nursing curriculum development, and programme validation/accreditation for over 20 years. She has a Postgraduate Diploma in Veterinary Education from Royal Veterinary College, is currently at the finishing stages of the Masters of Science degree, and is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Her areas of research include veterinary nursing clinical decisions, professional identity and evidence-based patient care, working with veterinary nurses to explore current practices. Kirsty also regularly contributes to veterinary nursing accreditation panels for RCVS as chair and education representative, reviewing VN programmes across the United Kingdom.

Candidate statement

I would like to be considered as a candidate for RCVS Veterinary Nursing Council. As a dedicated veterinary nurse with a commitment to the advancement of our profession, I am keen to contribute to the future direction and standards of veterinary nursing.

With over 25 years of experience as a veterinary nurse, I understand the challenges and opportunities that shape our profession, including fairness and equity, well-being, and sustainability. I am particularly focussed on the development of a clear identity and voice for the veterinary nursing profession, advocating for better recognition and empowerment of veterinary nurses, and their professional growth.

If elected, I look forward to contributing to the work of RCVS in the following areas:

Legislative Reform: Veterinary nursing requires a positive definition which reflects, with clarity, the strengths of our profession and recognises the pivotal role of the VN in patient care.

Promotion of Well-being: The well-being of our colleagues is a top priority and I support initiatives that promote mental health awareness, and a supportive work environment.

Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion: Our profession thrives on diversity of perspectives, therefore seeks to remove barriers to build inclusive environments regardless of background or identity.

Advocacy for Professional Development: I believe in the importance of development for veterinary nurses, creating equitable opportunities for professional growth, and including mentorship initiatives.

Enhancement of VN Standards: Upholding the highest standards of care and education is paramount to our profession, ensuring that veterinary nurses are equipped to excel in their career.

As a member of RCVS VN Council, I would seek to serve the best interests of veterinary nurses and the animals under our care. I am passionate about shaping the future of our profession and ensuring that veterinary nursing remains a respected part of the veterinary team.

Candidate answers to questions from the profession

What can we do to encourage vets to utilise their veterinary nurses properly and therefore increase clinical output and job satisfaction?

There many great examples of vets and vet nurses collaborating effectively together for the benefit of their patients, and the veterinary team. There is however, variation in the level of vet nurse empowerment across, and even within, practices. This restraint may be due to a sense of nervousness from some vets, that having vet nurses involved to a greater extent risks errors or complaints, possibly founded on poor understanding of the role, or the personal responsibility that VNs possess.

I believe there are a number of ways to address this. Having a better understanding of the role of the veterinary nurse, and in their level of training, would assist in providing confidence to vet employers. Interprofessional education in universities is supporting this, however there is variation in understanding of the vet nurse role within the wider profession. RCVS is working on this (e.g. production of the ‘SUPERB’ poster), and continuing to promote use of VNs is key.

A positive definition of the vet nurse in legislation would also provide clarity. Currently the Veterinary Surgeon’s Act (VSA) defines the limitations of the VN role, which becomes the focus. A definition of what the vet nurse can do would help with professional identity and empowerment. The timing of review of the VSA is determined by government, though developing this positive definition, which may include extension of the VN remit but should not be limited to this, is an essential consideration in the process.

Can you say where in veterinary nursing that diversity and inclusion does not exist and which demographic is most likely to be left out?

The diversity of the VN profession has improved, however we are still largely a white, female population. There are a number of demographics underrepresented, and we still have work to do to ensure everyone feels like veterinary nursing is a profession open to them as a career choice.

There are several good initiatives to educate and inform the profession and the public, such as the work of BVNA, RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Working group etc. Having better awareness of the adjustments that can be made to remove barriers in practice would be a way of encouraging those who need adjustments to consider veterinary nursing, or to remain active members of the profession as life evolves. Understanding the challenges that individuals face helps us all to work together in creative ways for the benefit of the profession.

Role models from diverse backgrounds can help individuals in identifying their place as a vet nurse. There is better representation across committees, those leading voices in media and in social media platforms, however this can always improve. How the public view veterinary nursing may miss this diversity however, and therefore there is more work to engage the wider community in the work of the veterinary professions.

Universities, colleges and training providers play their part in attracting, and supporting, a diverse range of learners, however those individuals must see a place for themselves once they become RVNs. Building communities and support networks is a pivotal part in attracting and retaining a diverse veterinary nursing profession.