Two registered veterinary nurses have made history by achieving qualifications in the fields of animal nutrition and emerging scientific research.

Nicola Ackerman is the first in the UK to become a veterinary nurse specialist in nutrition – VTS (Nutr), and Lyndsay Barratt is the first to achieve a Masters of Research (MRes) qualification.

Mrs Ackerman, senior medical nurse at the Veterinary Hospital Group in Plymouth and a respected veterinary nursing author, is the only holder of the VTS (Nutr) award outside North America, and has been accepted as a member of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians.

“I am delighted and very proud to have gained this qualification,” Mrs Ackerman said. “I’m the first person in the UK – there is one woman in Canada and everyone else is in the US.

“I believe gaining it will help my work and help me offer an even better service to the pets I see.”

Mrs Ackerman had to undergo rigorous examinations and submit an extensive portfolio of cases before sitting her exam at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Royal Canin kindly sponsored her, paying for her flights to the US.

Miss Barratt, who works at the Royal Veterinary College’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals gained her MRes award after studying part time for two years.

Her research project was titled “Recognition and validation of behaviour-based indicators of postoperative pain in cats”, and her studies included workshops on time/project management and statistics and research seminars.

Miss Barratt said: “While surrounded by the veterinarian graduates I felt very proud to be a veterinary nurse.

“It has been fantastic to be involved in emerging scientific research and I feel I have become part of a community of people dedicated to the progression of veterinary medicine, something I never expected to experience.

“I hope to publish my research later this year and, in doing so, also encourage more nurses to research areas that interest them, so, as a profession, we can evolve our own body of knowledge, focusing on improving nursing practices and patient care.”

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