As regular readers of my blog will be aware, I was at the amazing #vetfutures last month. I’ve already written about the great day and the brilliant plans for #VNFutures.
But there’s something I haven’t told you, because I wanted some time to reflect (and log that in my PDP).
While I’ve been here spouting about veterinary nursing for a while, encouraging everyone to get together and make a stand, have a voice, make it heard, etc – I’ve been ignoring something.
Something quite big.
I’ve been ignoring the only organised voice for RVNs we have – one that even has a student membership.
I am, of course, talking about the BVNA.
For us, for the future
This – our – association, represents more than a third of all RVNs, and that proportion grows each year. As I said, there is a student section too, and this also has a rep on BVNA Council. This is great, because it recognises the fact that retention of students is important to our future.
But we still need more. To put that membership figure in context, I know a recruitment company with a similar amount of RVNs registered. Therefore, I argue, if we as a profession want to have RVN-specific roles commanding better salaries and terms and conditions – don’t just join a recruitment agency. Join the BVNA.
For context, I’ll explain why I’ve come to this conclusion.
Back in the day, I was a BVNA member. But then there came better options for CPD elsewhere.
Also, most people I spoke to from the BVNA weren’t very helpful or interested in my experiences in nursing.
I did try to help, and actually became part of a group monitoring the press for mentions of VNs. While doing so, I found a great article about the financial benefits for a practice of employing qualified VNs. I put this forward only to be told I should be looking for articles that were negative about vet nurses.
Needless to say, I was a bit shocked. This was a time long before registration, meaning articles mentioning VNs – no matter in what light – were rare, so to ignore the positive ones seemed like pretty strange advice.
Obviously, I left. I did report what I had been told, but it was met with a shrug of the shoulders, confirming the BVNA was not for me.
Despite this, I think we do need to realise the BVNA is the original VN community. While I have created #planetrvn on Twitter and Facebook, have Jane RVN on YouTube where there are #OSCEtips, nothing beats having a whole group of people thinking like you.
Therefore, I’m happy to report things have changed. For example, I’ve seen the improvement in the approach to providing CPD – it’s just so much better (see http://www.bvna.org.uk/cpd/intro). I’ve also seen in the vet press how the BVNA and RCVS are working together.
So, what is that really made me join again? It was, undoubtedly, the partnership at #VNFutures of the BVNA’s president Sam Morgan and VN council chair Liz Cox – it just showed how well the two organisations have been working together. For us. For VNs. For the future.
I actually got to speak to Liz and Sam at the event, where I confessed that while I wasn’t a member, I was seriously considering rejoining. Sam was very polite about my admission, actually, and it led to a good discussion about the representation of VNs in the UK.
Let’s think about it – there is only the BVNA. That really is it.
To put that into perspective (and at the last time I counted, anyway), there are roughly 15 vet organisations covering everything from goats to fish anaesthesia. For VNs, there are places that provide CPD, yes, but BVNA is the only representative organisation. They lobby for us independently, and often in conjunction with VN council.
Plus, having taken the time to fully read the BVNA’s website, I’m very impressed by their pledge: “The aim of the BVNA is to promote animal health and welfare through the ongoing development of professional excellence in veterinary nursing.”
So many people miss this point – that the VN role is about animal welfare. While we can get political about promoting VNs, what will never change is we are all here to improve animal welfare.
As more RVNs join, the more weight there is for the BVNA, and the more power it has. As this power increases, more people will listen to what it says – and the BVNA are only going to say what you want them to. They represent you.
To give you an idea of the BVNA’s strength as a representative body, lets compare it to our peers.
First up, the Royal College of Nursing has around half of their potential members signed up, and their membership is about £15 per month. BVNA’s is from around £2.50 per month.
The British Association of Dental Nurses, meanwhile, are more similar in size to our organisation, and costs roughly the same. However, the membership fee includes a VDS-style insurance so it therefore has a relatively high percentage of potential members.
The cost is similar to joining BVNA and VDS, but there appears to be more emphasis on the financial benefits rather than campaigning for the status of dental nurses or the providing of information about their role in dental health – possibly, because they offer insurance as part of their membership, it limits their ability to campaign.
A force to be reckoned with
Back at the BVNA, I see the changes in the association as long lasting ones aimed at improving the profession for VNs. There is also an ongoing campaign for improving animal welfare through us. This is key to our role but also to engaging the public’s interest, creating demand for our skills from all who use the veterinary profession, not just those within it who already know what an asset an RVN is.
While joining any organisation is a personal choice, if you aren’t a member of BVNA, then I would urge you to read the website and look at what they offer.
It’s more than just CPD, I promise.