Join us for VET Festival!

20-21 May 2022, Loseley Park, Surrey

VETERINARY EDUCATION TOMORROW

Vet Nurse

Vet Nurse
Photo of Vet Nurse

Amy Newbould

In nominating Amy Newbould RVN for the VET Honour, I would immediately state that irrespective of how much is written here it will not adequately encapsulate Amy’s outstanding qualities or express fully how many extra miles she goes as Head Nurse. Since graduating in 1998 I have worked in five veterinary practices, and Amy is the finest nurse I have encountered. 2020 was (and 2021 already is) most unusual, yet throughout Amy shone.

She expertly managed the furloughing of some of our nurses and kennel assistants, attentively remaining in touch with each to ensure none felt left out or less valued on account of having been furloughed. During this time Amy also choreographed the remaining nurses and kennel staff into ‘bubbles’ to reduce the risk both to individuals, but also to the entire practice were anyone to contract Covid. The fact that – to date – not a single member of the practice has tested positive for Covid demonstrates Amy’s rigour in this regard. When furloughed nurses were re-introduced Amy skilfully integrated the team back together, and needed to pay particular attention to two of the previously furloughed nurses who experienced quite some anxiety prior to their return to work (and for a short time thereafter). As a practice we have a very low staff turnover, to the extent that when someone leaves it really is a shock. In 2020 one RVN departed in order to gain experience within a referral veterinary hospital, and one kennel assistant left to work as a optician’s assistant. In both cases, Amy oversaw their departures sensitively – perfectly balancing our sorrow as they farewelled, and showing generous support to them as they anticipated new challenges.

She also expertly recruited two superb successors, and has assimilated them into our team in a manner that has allowed each to settle, develop, and flourish very quickly indeed. Amy’s ability to develop nurses (whether student or registered) is also a testament to her skills as a nurse trainer. In the last five years she has mentored and trained six student veterinary nurses, all of whom passed their exams well (two actually won awards!). Beyond mere academic knowledge or technical acumen, though, Amy inculcates ‘Copelands culture’ into each trainee – they all exhibit her care for patients, kindness to each other, diligence in every aspect of work, willingness (on occasion) to sacrifice individual comfort for the benefit of the team, and an unfailing ‘can-do / will-do’ attitude. This, of course, is because Amy herself embodies all these fine qualities. In describing so many ways in which Amy excels with practice staff, it is important to record her excellence as a clinical nurse. She gauges with unerring accuracy just how to handle patients, whether compliant or nervous or aggressive…

She does not simply respond to patients, but proactively anticipates what they may need – whether reassurance, or analgesia, or sustenance, or just a walk to the yard for toileting. Similarly, in theatre she is always anticipating what is required for the patient or by the surgeon – never is anything too much trouble as Amy seeks the best experience of, and outcome from, a pet’s visit to the practice. Such care is also unfailingly shown to clients, all of whom appreciate Amy’s kindness and competence. Clients know Amy’s name, they trust her, and are pleased to see her – this because, irrespective of how busy she is or what time she should have finished, Amy always gives her best unhurried attention to every owner. 2020 was also the year when Copeland Veterinary Surgeons, having been an independent practice since its opening in 1999, became part of IVC Evidensia. Inevitably, this initially discomforted many at the practice and Amy (whilst, doubtless, managing her own thoughts and feelings) graciously fielded many questions and sensitively had many pastoral conversations with members of the team. Her absolute discretion means that nurses and kennel assistants trust Amy implicitly for confidential conversations, and she gave of herself unstintingly during the transition to new ownership. After becoming part of a corporate group various changes were, of course, imposed upon the practice. One such example has been a change in supplier and stock ordering protocol. Amy has proven immense in working through the transition – liaising at length with our two clinical directors, IVC Evidensia, and MWIAH – to ensure the smooth adoption of new systems that all team members feel competent and confident to use. The need to complete a full stocktake and make changes to many products meant that Amy had to work alone through an entire additional weekend to ensure a smooth handover and have everything ready for the practice team – a characteristically selfless act. Amy’s responsibilities include ensuring radiological safety, and she is fastidious in keeping our xray machine and developer serviced and compliant, as well as the use and management of dosimeters.

Alongside general radiological safety, and in spite of the generally fluid nature of rota or duty considerations during 2020, Amy has also had to accommodate one of our RVNs falling pregnant (a Covid baby!). Planning which nurse would be assisting which vet with which procedure added yet another dimension to her planning, and at all times Amy ensured work was fairly shared between all nurses whilst correctly shielding our pregnant RVN. Outstanding! It would be remiss of me not to note how well Amy relates to (and, perhaps, on occasion deftly manages!) each of us veterinary surgeons. We have two clinical directors (a married couple) – one of whom is usually horizontal, whilst the other can be fairly highly strung…

As Head Nurse, Amy provides a conduit between the nursing team and our clinical directors, and on occasion has needed to smooth the waters! Of course, none of we veterinary surgeons are perfect, and Amy unfailingly judges perfectly when we should be approached, challenged, encouraged, comforted, or just made to laugh. The warmth of her personality, generosity of spirit, and kindly actions are far beyond anything that could reasonably be expected, but are an unfailing blessing to us all. I do seem to have written quite a bit…

And yet, as stated at the outset, have still not done justice to all the extra miles Amy has gone this year. Whether due to Covid, or a change in ownership, or to pets or clients or staff, or for matters or management or safety, or any other reason I have failed to mention, Amy has given of herself sacrificially and cheerfully. She absolutely deserves a VET Honour – I only hope I have been able to demonstrate why.

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