Beyond the Scrubs: Veterinary Nurses Down Under Forging Diverse Career Paths!

Watch back this chat between Down Under VSGDer Danni Dee and three veterinary nurses forging diverse careers from CPD to law!

Posted: 06/07/2023


Aus, Zoom, Online


June 2023


Amy Presley
Mich Lou
Sara Ho-Le
Stephanie James
Hosted by Danii Dee

Learn more about the panel...

Sara Ho-Le

Sara is the founder of EVE (Emergency Veterinary Education), where she provides CPD tutorials and ‘in house’ training in Melbourne! As a VTS ECC she found her passion in empowering individuals in our industry and showing them that learning can be FUN, not just intense!

Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a UK registered RVN who moved to Melbourne to work and travel in 2015. I loved it so much I decided to stay! During my career I have worked in first opinion practice, emergency and referral centres, university teaching hospitals and non-for-profit organisations. I have completed further study in emergency and critical care and obtained my VTS (ECC) in 2022.

How long were you Vet Nursing and are you still clinical?
I’ve been nursing for 16 years in total and 12 of those qualified. I stepped out of clinical work 15 months ago but still do occasional locum work to maintain clinical skills and integrity.

Why did you decide to move away from Full Time clinical Vet Nursing?
Like many vet nurses the injuries from long term manual handling and lifting took its toll on my back and I was no longer able to maintain full time clinical work. I now have a strong passion for correct manual handling and preventing injury at work. I was also ready to move into a teaching/educational role.

What is the best part of your new job?
The best part of my new job is educating and teaching vet nurses and vets! I teach emergency subjects (as that is my speciality) as well as other areas including inpatient care and surgery. I love that I am able to help vet nurses grow their knowledge and skills and empower them to continue further education and keep achieving career goals.

Mich Lou

Michelle started out as a kennel hand with Guide Dogs Australia, going on to qualify as a veterinary nurse in 2004. Michelle’s experience as a vet nurse includes general practice, emergency, and wildlife nursing and rehabilitation. Throughout her career, she’s held a variety of positions, including nurse manager, practice manager, and trainer and assessor.

Michelle’s love for animals and her desire to make a difference didn’t stop there. In 2015, she embarked on a new adventure, pursuing a law degree with the goal of advocating for animal welfare, environmental protection, and the veterinary industry. She graduated in December 2021 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland as a lawyer in June 2022.

Michelle now works at Vitality Law Australia, specializing in commercial, property, employment, and health law. But she still finds time to work as a casual vet nurse, focusing on the care of Koalas and possums. She also volunteers with the Animal Law Institute of Australia and the National Environmental Law Association, using her combined knowledge and experience to make a positive impact in the world.

When not working or volunteering, Michelle’s down time includes spending time with her family on acreage in the Glass House Mountains, gardening, exploring new creative projects, and reading.

Amy Presley

Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Amy, a small animal vet nurse turned manager with an obsession with my Burmese cat.
If I was a dog, I think I’d most likely be a pug based on my charm, my loyal friendship, and the ability to win people over 😉 .
I’ve been in leadership/management roles for around 8 years now and I pride myself on being the type of manager I never had when I was a trainee nurse.

How long were you Vet Nursing and are you still clinical?
2023 marks my 16th year in the vet industry; say whattt?!
Now I am working in a virtual capacity so do not work in a “clinical” setting except when volunteering for Pets In The Park.

Why did you decide to move away from Full Time clinical Vet Nursing?
I was given an opportunity to move into Practice Management, which I had already defaulted into in my clinic.
It was too hard for me to do both nursing and practice management in a growing, busy practice. Once I took the full leap out: (as sad as I was to leave the animals) it was beneficial for everyone.

What is the best part of your new job?
I really like connecting with individuals and giving them a “safe space”; which encourages, supports, and empowers them.
I particularly love helping women gain confidence in their skills, their abilities and what they can achieve within the vet world and outside of it.

What was the most difficult part of the transition?
Navigating changes in your professional relationships and in compartmentalising “friendships” and working relationships.
Leadership roles can be very isolating and a lot of the time there is no real training or knowledge about that and how it can affect you and your interpersonal relationships.

What are your recommendations for other nurses looking to transition into your role?
If you are new to management, I would recommend the AIRC Diploma of Leadership and Management. It is a good introduction to HR, and I particularly like the modules on emotional intelligence.
Courses to take? As above and become a MHFAC.
Job sites to look on? Kookaburra Vet Employment, Facebook veterinary employment groups, however I highly recommend having a current and detailed Linked in Profile!

What would you look for on a resume if you were hiring someone in that role?
Proven experience in some form of leadership whether that be as a Senior Nurse, tech etc.
Any form of HR duties, eg rostering, performance management, reviews.
Experience working in a busy, fast paced environment where it is necessary to make solve problems quickly independently.
Additional hobbies, CPD, etc that shows a passion in personal development and self growth.

Stephanie James

My name is Stephanie and I’ve been working in the animal industry for 10 years now- working as a veterinary nurse for the last 7 years. I’ve done GP nursing, Practice Management, Emergency Medicine and worked in a teaching hospital. This year I decided to take a step back from the clinic and now work for a global veterinary pharmaceutical company as a rep!

Moving away from my nursing “Dream Job” was tough. I felt like I had finally risen to where I wanted to be in my career and my ego told me for so long I’d be a failing myself if I left.
I was worried I was just like every other nurse in their late 20’s or early 30’s who abandoned “the cause”. But when a rep role landed in my lap, I was at my lowest point, and it felt like the universe was telling me that it was time to change my priorities. I was burnt the hell out. 12.5hr shifts alternating from day and night every week, a toxic workplace, a few unexpected patient deaths, and a long commute was sending me (and my personal life) into an early grave.

The perks of being a rep? Sure there’s a few- work car, good pay, NORMAL hours, interstate and international travel, autonomy. But the biggest by far? I have my health back.
I also love working for a company whose product I genuinely feel I can stand behind. Being in clinics every day I also get to meet so many new people and network- all the while educating vets and nurses about the latest advancements in veterinary medicine.

Look is this job as rewarding to ME as veterinary nursing? No- absolutely not. But I think having your dream job by the age of 25, sets the bar high for anything else. I have no doubt you’ll find me in an emergency department on the occasional weekend very soon- but it will be for the joy of it, not because of this underlying guilt that I must continue burning myself out if I want to be worth something.

If you want to make the jump into the rep world my advice would be to network, network, network. Get yourself a Linked In. Having lots of industry connections will not only help you find a rep role but will also help you so much once you’re in the job. If you’ve been a nurse for even half a minute, then you DO have sales skills. You sell best practice to your clients every day. If you’ve done puppy preschool than you have public speaking skills. You will need to be a self-motivator as there is a lot of autonomy in the role and of course time management skills are must!

Come on the journey with Vets Stay Go Diversify

I need some career inspiration.

I'm looking for a new job/career path.

I need some career support to work out what's next for me.

Curious to know More?

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss our free events, resources, and tips!

Newsletter Signup