An interview with…Denise Chambers RVN, Internal Quality Assurer

Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have an enormous black and white cat called Charlie who says ‘Hello’ in the early hours of the morning.

What made you want to be a Registered Veterinary Nurse?

I sort of fell into veterinary nursing when I saw an advert for a student position and was excited about studying again so took the job. It turned out that the practice wasn’t the best environment for training, and I nearly quit nursing, but was encouraged by qualified locum staff to move, and so I found a lovely training practice where I qualified and then stayed for several years.

Do you have any advice for our Student Veterinary Nurses?

Don’t burn your bridges! Work hard, act professionally and be nice to people because the veterinary industry is a small world. If you stay in veterinary nursing for long enough you will frequently bump into the same people, and a good reputation will massively help your future career.

What led you to this point in your career?

I started working in small (independent) private practices and discovered I enjoyed the training and mentoring of student VNs and so undertook the then D32/33 NVQ assessor qualification. After several years I moved to the RSCPA hospital in Putney as a Clinics Supervisor which meant line managing and being an assessor for a group of students and other staff. I also started developing training sessions for qualified nurses in pet diabetes and weight management to improve outcomes for patients, as this can be a challenge in a charity setting where clients may not always have the resources to treat their pets successfully without support. Eventually I decided that I wanted to take things a step further and started working as a lecturer at MYF Training and completed my teaching degree.

A few years later I had a baby and took two years out and returned to the world of VN training working for City and Islington College carrying out apprenticeship reviews and promoting the course with a bit of teaching thrown in. I moved to Dorset a year later as we wanted to be near the beach, so I transferred to Lynwood School of Veterinary Nursing (LSVN) in Dorset and began IQA training to better support clinical coaches and students with their NPL progress. From LSVN I moved to work at the RCVS as a qualifications assessor, quality assuring training providers and awarding organisations across the UK and taking part in VN Education Committee meetings, accreditation events and other activities such as VN Day, VN Futures and the reworking of the VN Standards Framework in 2021. I took a break from the VN world a couple of years later and opened a zero-waste refill store which was lovely, but sadly had to close last year due to the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis. So I’ve come full circle now and currently work with several colleges as an IQA and lecturer with a bit of teaching thrown in! I started working for GVNC in January 2024 and it’s a fantastic team.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The best part for me is using creativity to achieve understanding and retention of information. This essentially means developing the best way to make sure VN students understand exactly what they need to do to qualify and be fantastic nurses. I like nothing better than seeing that moment when students ‘get’ a subject.

What would you say is the hardest part of your job?

The long hours when I first started teaching and studying for my degree at the same time. There would be moments where my husband would catch me working at 1am because I had to get lectures ready for the next day and I still wasn’t finished.

What skills do you think you need at be an Internal Quality Assurer and Lecturer?

Empathy, an interest in human nature, creativity and good time management.

What is the best thing to happen to the Veterinary industry during your time?

Can I have two?! I would say both the overhaul of the VN Standards Framework to include the importance of wellbeing for students, and the development of the post-registration qualifications which are now available in a wide range of subject areas by several universities across the UK. These give the veterinary nursing profession the chance to develop subject-specialist nurses and offers career progression to keep VNs in the industry.

Visit our Nursing College page to learn more about what we can offer aspiring students!