I found the jump from GCSEs to A Levels quite challenging – I realised early on I’d have to knuckle down and work hard to achieve my goal of working in veterinary medicine. I also had to focus on giving myself the best chance of getting there, which meant dropping Graphics – a subject that I really enjoyed but was hugely time-consuming – and Further Mathematics in my second year. Instead, I concentrated on attaining three strong A Levels to best support my application.
From a young age I’d always dreamed of being a vet, however completing work experience and spending time with an incredible veterinary nurse, I soon realised I was far better suited to nursing. I chose to study at the Royal Veterinary College, combining terms at university with those on placement. A vital placement task is completing a Nursing Progress Log covering the many areas of veterinary nursing including animal husbandry; giving medications; placing catheters; taking blood; running lab tests; monitoring anaesthesia; taking X-rays; scrubbing in for surgery; consulting; microchipping; physiotherapy; and more.
Everyone in my shared house was studying the same degree, so we studied (and partied!) together. I loved my time on campus and made friends for life. After graduating, I worked in several corporately owned practices and was offered my first Head Nursing role in 2017. I enjoyed working as Head Nurse and managing a team but wanted to work in an independent practice. Luckily, a family-owned vet group were looking for a Branch Partner to run a new premises they were building in Horley. I took the plunge and got in touch to put myself forward. I was only 25 and still had a lot to learn about running a business so it was a steep learning curve over the first couple of years, but the directors at Portland Vets have supported me really well and taught me so much along the way.
Being a Branch Partner means I have a stake in the business and a wide range of day-to-day responsibilities, including looking after the team and training, through to managing equipment maintenance and keeping us up to date with professional practice standards. Our fantastic team helps me every day to keep things running smoothly and deliver a high standard of patient care.
Five years on and the practice is still growing with more branches planned. Longer-term, when they near retirement, the Directors want to transfer the business to an employee-owned trust. This means that the practices will eventually be owned by all its employees and will remain independent – we pride ourselves on giving everything the personal touch and going above and beyond for our clients.
Alongside my Partner role, I still work on the Nursing rota a few days a week, which allows me to continue to use my nursing skills. I love all areas of nursing but particularly patient care, anaesthesia and dentistry. More recently, I’ve undertaken further training which means I can perform minor surgical procedures. We’re a training practice, so the whole team are supportive of each other’s learning and development, as well as our role in training the student nurses and vets who are on placements with us.
Claire Booth RVN BSc (Hons)
Reigate College: 2009-2011
Higher Education: Royal Veterinary College (University of London), BSc Veterinary Nursing
Currently: Head Nurse & Partner, Portland Vets