#VNAM2023: My journey as a student veterinary nurse


As part of our Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month (#VNAM23) celebrations, we caught up with two Hartpury University student veterinary nurses to learn more about their background, why they want to become a veterinary nurse and why they chose to study at Hartpury University.


Originally from Hampshire, Sophie now lives in a small village near Hartpury and is enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing degree at Hartpury.

What made you want to pursue a career as a veterinary nurse?

“Cats were always a big part of my family growing up and were a big reason I wanted to work with animals. I wasn’t originally sure what I wanted to do with animals so went and did work experience at a local vet practice and realised I wanted to become a veterinary nurse after seeing the variety in their job and how important they were to the team.”

Why Hartpury University?

“I chose to study at Hartpury after seeing the incredible campus and mixture of both country and city life with Gloucester and Cheltenham being so close. The veterinary nursing lecturers at Hartpury have all had experience in the veterinary industry, so are very knowledgeable on the modules taught and have many real-life examples of situations.”

What has been a highlight so far?

“My year on placement was great – you get involved with every aspect of the role and become a vital part of the team whilst learning on the job!”

What opportunities do you think your course and career can open?

“There is so much that a veterinary nursing degree can lead to, especially at the moment with projects like Veterinary Nursing Futures. There are so many opportunities as a veterinary nurse.You can specialise in a referral practice, teach students as a clinical coach or lecturer, or become ambassadors inspiring future nurses. I’m so excited to start my career as an Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) and be joining such an incredible profession.”


Lizzie hails from Leicestershire and will soon graduate from Hartpury University as a veterinary nurse. She’s enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing degree. Back home, Lizzie owns two chickens and a lovely horse called Hollie who she shares with her mother.

What made you want to pursue a career as a veterinary nurse?

“I’ve always wanted to work with animals, having helped and worked at a riding school since I was 13. However, when I was 16, my horse Hollie had sycamore poisoning and was very ill. I slept at the field for a week changing fluid bags and giving medications throughout the night and with lots of care she made a full recovery. It was this experience that made me realise I wanted to be a veterinary nurse!”

Why Hartpury University?

“I chose Hartpury as I’d heard about the outstanding equine facilities and rural setting. I love the amount of opportunities Hartpury has given me both on and outside of my studies. Even though I’m not on an equine course, I've been lucky enough to work at high profile events such as the Horse of the Year Show, London International Horse Show and Royal Windsor, gaining experience and making contacts in the equestrian industry. 

“I think the integrated placement year is invaluable for teaching you all the clinical skills you need, and there’s plenty of assistance to help you find the right placement. I’ve always felt supported during my time at Hartpury and will be very sad to be leaving!”

What are your favourite parts of your course and the wider industry?

“My favourite parts of veterinary nursing are exotic animals and inpatient care. As part of an optional module at Hartpury I was able to travel to Zimbabwe to work on a primate sanctuary for two weeks and I would love to do more of this in the future!”

Want to learn more about becoming a veterinary nurse?

We’ve put together the Hartpury guide to becoming a veterinary nurse for anyone interested in pursuing a career in this exciting and rewarding industry. The blog has information about what the role entails as well as information about the qualifications and training pathways available at Hartpury University.

Veterinary nursing at Hartpury

Veterinary nursing students benefit from outstanding facilities including Hartpury’s Veterinary Nursing Clinical Skills Centre, equipped with modern technology that provides an ideal environment to prepare for real-world practice. The facility is home to surgical, anaesthetic, and diagnostic imaging equipment that sit alongside animal science laboratories. Hartpury Veterinary Nursing graduates enjoy high employability with 100% going onto employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2022).

Hartpury University also ranks 1st in the South West and 6th in the UK for Teaching Quality, according to The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide for 2023. 

Research is at the heart of Hartpury and students have the chance to utilise cutting-edge industry knowledge to find solutions to real-world problems while also shaping the future of research in their field. The thing that sets Hartpury’s BSc Honours degrees apart from most other veterinary nursing qualifications is the research dissertation in the final year. Students develop their unique interests and industry skills, contributing to best-practice standards and getting them ready to hit the ground running from day one in practice. For those looking to specialise further, a Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing can provide an edge when progressing their veterinary nursing career.

Research carried out by Hartpury University was recognised as both ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ in a stunning Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) debut.

Learn more about studying veterinary nursing at Hartpury.