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Bethaney Heayns

"I enjoy knowing that I am helping to advance the way in which animals are diagnosed and treated."
Bethaney Heayns - photo courtesy of RVC

I am a… clinical investigation nurse

Bethaney Heayns was in the second year of her degree in Veterinary Nursing and Practice Management when she realised she wanted to work in research, and from that moment she began developing the skills and knowledge she would need for this challenging but hugely rewarding career path, starting with her placement at Village Veterinary Surgery in Flintshire. In this independent practice for domestic and exotic animals Beth, from Cheshire, worked as a trainee veterinary nurse.

“One of the best things about being on placement was gaining a huge amount of experience that I could then draw on in my final year at Harper Adams. I really enjoyed completing my dissertation, which developed my research skills and encouraged me to think of veterinary nursing research as a career.”

In 2009, with exams over and her fellow students departing for jobs all over the UK Beth remained at Harper Adams, where she began work as a Research Assistant in Veterinary Nursing. “This gave me experience of supervising student projects and experience teaching. This has helped my career progression because it has given me a somewhat unique background and given me strong transferable skills which I use every day in my current role.”

Nowadays the 26-year-old is a Clinical Investigation Nurse at the Royal Veterinary College where she says a typical day involves: “the collection and processing of samples, keeping in touch with owners of patients enrolled on studies, recruiting patients for our studies, managing databases and seeing study cases, which can often take up the whole day.

“I enjoy knowing that I am helping to advance the way in which animals are diagnosed and treated. I also thoroughly enjoy being involved in marketing and giving talks on the work we do at the Clinical Investigation Centre.”

Her advice to students interested in a similar career would be to begin developing skills early on. “There are not many positions available in research so it’s really important to do as much as possible to make your CV stand out. Write papers, publish, talk at conferences and make sure you are always up to date with current research in your area of interest.” Veterinary Nurses in research are constantly updating their skills and knowledge.

“I am an editorial board member for the international journal, The Veterinary Nurse, and I publish papers in a variety of journals. I presented my dissertation findings at BSAVA Congress in 2010. I will be presenting on immunology at BVNA Congress in 2013 and have been invited to present at BSAVA Congress in 2014 on the role of the veterinary nurse in research. All of these activities benefit me as they are perfect for networking in the research world and improving my knowledge of research.”

You could be a clinical investigation nurse if you would enjoy:

  • Coordinating research projects
  • Ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare
  • Overseeing all aspects of research, ensuring data is accurate
  • Collecting, storing and processing of research samples
  • Animal handling
  • Clinical work
  • Liaising with owners, clinicians and vets in general practice
  • Patient recruitment

Veterinary Nursing

Veterinary nursing offers rewarding career opportunities for people interested in animal health and welfare. The demand for veterinary nurses is steadily increasing and employment prospects are excellent.

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