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Susan Howarth

DipAVN (Surgical) DipAVN (Medical) RVN

Candidate 1 of 3

Proposers: Katherine Hart, Philippa Bond

Contact details

T 01952 815533
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Susan Howarth, 2024 VN Council election candidate After training in a busy first-opinion practice in Manchester I qualified as a VN in 1997. I worked in an excellent team that had a vast reservoir of knowledge and experience, many of whom held or were studying for further certificates and diplomas. This inspired me to further my own knowledge and skills, and I went on to achieve the Dip AVN (Surgical) in 2000, and the Dip AVN (Medical) in 2003. During this time, I also became involved in training student nurses within the practice.

I enjoyed a period of time working as a locum nurse in various practices and hospitals around the country before I made the transition to education.

From 2003, I was employed as lecturer at the College of Animal Welfare, teaching student veterinary nurses. I gained my Certificate in Education in 2005 and in 2010 achieved a top up BSc (Hons) in Veterinary Nursing.

In 2009 I moved to Harper Adams University where I am currently employed as the Programme Manager for the Advanced Veterinary Nursing suite of courses.

Candidate statement 

I am proud to be a Veterinary Nurse and value all the experiences and opportunities that working in this profession can bring.

I believe that promoting veterinary nursing as a profession is best achieved through advancing knowledge and skills. I am inspired when I see students advancing patient care though Evidence-based Nursing.

I have been a member of the RCVS Veterinary Nursing Education Committee for a number of years, being Chair of this committee for the last 5 years and also serving two terms on VN Council, which has given me the opportunity to advocate and promote the educational challenges and opportunities faced by the profession.   

These positions have provided opportunities to be involved with some of the more recent developments in veterinary nurse education. Such as, the development of the post-registration framework, resulted in a growing number of course providers offering a variety of Cert AVN routes. Being involved in reviewing the Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses to provide guidance on reasonable adjustment and how best to support students with disabilities. Both of these areas have present challenges, but equally, great opportunities for the profession to become more inclusive and also encourage retention.

If elected to VN Council, I will use my role to promote an educational culture, in which education is built around the needs of the busy veterinary nursing professional based in clinical practice. These are the nurses best placed to advocate effectively for patients, with access to high quality, evidence-based education to help facilitate this being paramount. I strongly believe that we must tailor education to the needs of these nurses and embrace the opportunities to continue to development and grow the Veterinary Nursing profession. This is how I feel that I can represent the profession that I have dedicated my professional life to. I believe a healthy learning culture should be promoted. Nurses should feel empowered to question, encourage and learn off one another.

We are facing an uncertain time within the nursing profession. The pandemic years left many burnt out and without zest. I am ambitious to see the Mind Matters Initiative continue by supporting and addressing the mental health needs and wellbeing of veterinary nurses and the teams they work with.

With experience of working in first opinion, referral and emergency settings coupled with experience in overseeing clinical and professional standards within a corporate company, I believe I can bring my passions to the RCVS VN Council to steer advancements confidently for the nursing profession. I am not afraid to challenge, nor am I afraid to see change.

I look forward to the opportunity to support this profession I am so proud to be a part of and explore innovative ways to drive it forward.

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?

I think that there is still much to do to educate all members of the practice team about effective delegation. While legislative reform will be an important step, there is much that can currently be effectively delegated to improve job satisfaction for nurses and improve outcomes. Individual veterinary teams should work together to identify each team members strength and prioritise what can be delegated. I think nurses should speak up and initiate this, rather than waiting for it to be handed to them.

What changes would you make to the work lifestyle of the veterinary nurse if you were given the authority to do so?

Given the demographic of our profession, I think many members of the practice team would appreciate more flexible working hours. While this could prove challenging when scheduling routine procedures, many owners would also appreciate a more flexible service. Utilising technology, could also allow an additional degree of flexible working, for example, routine post op checks could follow up on video calls, without the need of the owner or the nurse being on the practice premises. Working as team to decide where flexibility would benefit the work life balance of team members, while also benefit owners access to veterinary services.