Louise Northway VNCertECC NCert(Anaesth) RVN

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Clinical Nurse Lead at Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre / Social media influencer & Speaker

www.facebook.com/louthevetnurse www.instagram.com/louthevetnurse


Clinical Lead Nurse at a glance



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Around 60 per week

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Full time

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Think about YOUR core moral & values, Work hard and find your niche / main interest, Never stop learning - undertake CPD with forethought and drive, SHARE your knowledge with your team - we are stronger together.

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In my full time in practice role, minimal. Working as 'Lou the vet nurse' travelling is now international! crazy

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5 GCSES A-C including maths, science and English to become an SVN

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Empathy, Initiative, Can-do attitude


Emulate my inner passion and drive for nursing, Project the best bits of being an RVN to a wide audience, Enhance awareness of RVNs with pet owners


What were your first career steps and how did that work out?

I started my career back in 2004 after getting my lucky break and having my work experience placement at a local veterinary hospital. Following this I applied for a role (any role) to get my foot in the door. I started off volunteering after school two evenings a week and on Saturday morning as a nursing assistant / receptionist - which I loved! After obtaining the required GCSEs to train as a student nurse I started full time as a nursing assistant patiently waiting for a student veterinary nurse role to become available. I qualified as an RVN in 2009 and haven't looked back since. Every year has been completely different and very exciting!

So how did you decide to become a vet nurse and also an social media influncer?

I have always wanted to be a Veterinary Nurse. The role I am in now sort of just 'happened'. I have done quite a lot of different roles in practice over the years but this one is by far my favourite. My role in practice is to review our clinical nursing protocols, undertake clinical audits to looks for problems or complications, research, adapt and then review. I do this alongside the Vet clinical lead and I thoroughly enjoy working through improvements together. A large part of my role is also staff training and providing clinical guidelines and forms to support my team in their roles. It is very rewarding as I feel I have really helped to improve the level of care our patients receive - and reduce stress within my team. If I want to review an area which is not within my areas of expertise/interest I will get my team involved whose area it is. I really love championing my team in their own niches - we do a much better job if those who love X, Y or Z are allowed to lead the way.

In regards to my 'out of work' extra curricular nursing activities; My blog was just an idea..... whilst sat bored, watching TV during Christmas 2017! I felt I had so much passion built up inside of me.... I wanted to educate and inspire... and I wanted to let it out... This is when I had the idea to launch a positive pro-nursing social media platform. I NEVER could have comprehended how popular it has now become. Sometimes I do find it overwhelming but I absolutely love doing it. In addition this is where many other opportunities have come from (such as public speaking and lecturing!) which I am very grateful for.

What did you need to do to get into this career path?

I qualified back in 2009 doing the NVQ level 3 diploma route. At the time you needed 5 GCSE's A-C including maths, science and English. I obtained the grades required and I decided to leave school and to not do my A levels but to start in practice full time doing what I loved doing - nursing! I had to wait two years for a training position to become available but I learnt so much in this time. Since qualifying I've focused a lot of my CPD in my areas of interest (Anaesthesia & ECC) which keeps me motivated. In addition I then decided to undertake certificates in these areas to really cement my knowledge. At the time I did find it a big commitment to fit it in around working full time too but I found in really rewarding and stimulating. In practice now I feel I am a much better nurse because of it and I would encourage all nurses to think about what they enjoy - focus their CPD in those areas and find their niche!


I think what is important to remember is that my position did not already exist within my practice ..... I thought about what I was doing and spoke to my management about making this role and responsibilities official. My message to those reading this is - if you are doing more that your job description, think about what you are actually doing? Is it time your practice recognises what YOU do and gives you a title and officially delegates responsibilities to you? You should!


Were there any barriers to entry and how did you overcome them?

At the start; There was, and still is a huge demand for placements - I remember that I started writing to practices years before I was old enough to actually go! Then I ensured I made a positive impact the week I was there and wrote back straight away asking for ANY position (before they had a chance to forget who I was!) Additional qualifications down the line; Doing to the level 3 diploma route I had never had to reference anything or do 'academic writing' per say so this was a new skill for me to master when having to write my case reports whilst undertaking both of my certificates - and I did find this hard. Academic writing is truthfully not my strong point but I managed it with the help and support of my colleagues! My current position; I think what is important to remember is that my position did not already exist within my practice ..... I thought about what I was doing and spoke to my management about making this role and responsibilities official. My message to those reading this is - if you are doing more that your job description, think about what you are actually doing? Is it time your practice recognises what YOU do and gives you a title and officially delegates responsibilities to you? You should!


Lou in her element supporting and conducting CPD

Lou in her element supporting and conducting CPD

Lou and her fluff ball

Lou and her fluff ball


What are the best bits about your current role and are there any downsides?

In practice I am a full time RVN and do the same shifts and roles as all other RVNs. I love working in practice in all areas but specifically monitoring patients under anaesthesia, monitoring critically ill patients in kennels or being client facing doing nurse consults. Alongside this 'on the shop floor' role I have my clinical nurse lead role. I think the best part of my current role is when I find problems or trends, trouble shoot and improve them. Sometimes they are only little things, other times they are more serious. Before I starting embracing quality improvement I think I was perhaps a little bit blinkered into the small problems encountered daily. When you work in a busy practice it's not always reported and you may miss things. My point is even if you think you are doing well - audit the area and have a look.... you can probably make it even better! The other part of my role I enjoy is doing debriefs when we have an unexpected patient death or a mistake is made. I know how soul destroying it can be if it is not dealt with properly. The idea of this is just talking through what happened, what we did, and what we could do differently next time. The word to point out here is WE, not YOU. Mistakes happen at the end of a long chain of events and it rarely just happens to one person.... hence making it a team learning exercise. The worst thing is that this doesn't occur and then the team goes home thinking over and over it in their heads trying to make sense of it alone. If we chat about it and trouble shoot - it reduces stress in the team and should prevent the same mistake happening again. I think the only downside to my current role is 'time'. The audit side of things do take time to sit down (Since I have multiple running continuously!)....so some weeks I can get a bit behind! Managing my social media platform and lecturing alongside my full time role is currently a work in progress - Being an RVN is my full time job and also my full time hobby - I haven't quite perfected managing all of the eggs in my basket just yet!

Could you give us an overview of a typical day/tasks?

Hmmm... this is hard to do as each day is completely different depending on where I am working in the practice!

  • 7am - arrive at work, set up prep and theatre from the days procedures

  • 830-9am - clinical rounds (vets and nurses discuss inpatients and day patients - nurses are encouraged to voice their views and ask questions too!)

  • 9am-1pm - monitor the anaesthesia of patients undergoing procedures

  • 1pm-2pm - lunch (work on my practices social media page)

  • 2pm - 5pm - Monitor anaesthesia if any procedures left or shut down / clean theatre prep

  • 0630pm - 9pm - respond to emails and messages to my social media pages (can sometimes be in excess of 10-15 messages a day!)/ make social media content for my social media page / work on lectures and presentations.

What sort of person would thrive in this career path?

Someone who is caring, loves animals (obviously!), empathetic, likes working as part of a team and has a can-do, proactive attitude.

What advice would you give to someone becoming an army officer?

I started lecturing to my team as a 'revision tool' for me really when I was doing my certificates. They gave me such confidence and advised me to take my enthusiasm far and wide.... so that's what I've done. I have now lectured internationally in my areas of interest and I am loving it. However it is nerve wracking and I do sometimes struggle with my confidence. This has been one huge learning curve for me. I do believe that confidence comes with age - I can still remember feeling overwhelmed and thinking how would I ever do X, Y or Z without over thinking everything. As time goes by you will get there.... the shaky hands go and the jigsaw starts falling into place.