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Veterinary Nursing Lecturer: Is it the role for you?

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Becoming a veterinary nursing lecturer is a great opportunity for veterinary nurses to pass on their specialist skills and knowledge to future generations. The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you see yourself making that change and entering a new industry, namely…

Will you be happy to step away from veterinary practice?

Practice life doesn’t work for all veterinary nurses. The demanding hours, high-pressure situations and often commercial outlook doesn’t suit some people.

But being a lecturer is very different to working in a veterinary practice. Direct contact with animals will take a back seat to supporting students through their formal qualifications. Lecturing is often misconceived to be a standard ‘nine-to-five’ role, but the research, student support, marking and so on often mean that lecturers work outside of these hours and during term holidays too.

You need to make sure that you understand what the move will involve and what your new role will look like day-to-day. You may wish to approach those who are already in the industry for their experiences and advice about the role.

Am I qualified to be a veterinary nursing lecturer?

You need to find out whether you are qualified to become a lecturer and, if not, what you might need to do in order to fit the entry requirements. The level of education required to become a veterinary nursing lecturer will vary depending on the role.

Generally, colleges ask that veterinary nursing lecturers need to be either a veterinary surgeon or a registered veterinary nurse, preferably holding a degree and a relevant teaching qualification such as the Level 3 Award in Education and Training.

In addition, whilst it is not essential, relevant student and teaching/training experience gained as a clinical coach, in voluntary or work shadowing capacity, is useful. Classroom experience would also be beneficial as it helps with understanding learner needs in a diverse and equal opportunities setting.

It is worth noting that the most common misconception about becoming a lecturer is that you already have to have a teaching qualification in order to get into the academic profession. Although this would be a distinct advantage, it is worth doing some research into potential employers and getting in touch. Some employers (including The College of Animal Welfare) may be willing to fund your teaching qualification and allow you to work towards this whilst on-the-job.

Finding a Job as a Veterinary Nursing Lecturer

Finding a position

There are many online job platforms, which cater for the veterinary industry. On these websites, you can find all the latest vacancies in the veterinary world – including any veterinary nursing positions that may be available in your area.

Making your application standout

Jobs in veterinary teaching are competitive in comparison to the number of jobs available for veterinary surgeons or RVNs working in practice. It’s important that your job application is as good as it can be and stands out from the crowd.

I don’t have any direct teaching experience. What experience should I highlight in my application?

The role of a veterinary nursing lecturer is wide-ranging, and can include responsibilities such as:

  • Writing and developing course content
  • Planning and presenting lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops and practical teaching activity
  • Student support and guidance
  • Undertaking research and representing your organisation at conferences, seminars and exhibitions

Responsibilities will vary depending on the role, however the above list gives you a starting point to see what sort of skills an employer may be looking for. Take each responsibility and compare it with your own experience:

  • Have you ever done any public speaking that could be similar to presenting lectures?
  • Has your role in practice ever involved providing guidance to new graduates or recruits?
  • Have you ever completed any research, whether as part of a formal qualification or from personal interest?
  • Do you have any work that has been published, whether as part of formal research or from personal hobbies and interests such as a blog?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then make sure to highlight this experience on your application, and be ready to talk about it at interview!

If you have little experience in a direct teaching role, it may be worth seeking out more opportunities that require soft teaching skills. For example you could take on a clinical coaching role, lead a nursing consultation, or runn a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course for a local training provider. Not only will this help to strengthen your application when applying for lecturing roles, but it will help you get a real feel for how you take to teaching.

Veterinary nurses who do not hold a degree may also look to ‘top up’ their diploma to degree level by undertaking the BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Top Up Programme (delivered by Edinburgh Napier University in conjunction with The College of Animal Welfare).

Beyond experience and qualifications…

Remember, although teaching experience and a relevant qualification is preferable, it is not essential to entering the field. Some employers are willing to offer full training to candidates who demonstrate the drive and ambition needed to enter education.

Beyond experience, explain why you feel becoming a lecturer is the right move for your career. Be prepared to answer questions about why you’re moving away from practice life, and show passion and enthusiasm for the profession.

The College of Animal Welfare offer the opportunity for veterinary nurses interested in lecturing to experience first-hand ‘a day in the life of’ by arranging lecturing shadow days. That way, you can see how the day develops from start to finish, see what the role involves and get more of an idea if it is for you. If you’re interested in finding out more about shadowing a lecturer at CAW, you can contact our HR team on 01480 422060.

Find out more about what it’s like to work as a lecturer at The College of Animal Welfare

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