Sarah’s thriving in her dream career

Sarah’s thriving in her dream career

May is Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month, a time to recognise and honour the hard work and commitment of our incredible veterinary nurses across the VetPartners family.

 Whether they’re working in small animal, equine or referral practices or as head nurses or practice managers, our dedicated vet nurse colleagues play a crucial role in providing excellent care every day across our practices.

 Here, head nurse Sarah Bateman, who works at Anderson Abercromby Veterinary Referrals in West Sussex, discusses what it’s like working as a nurse in one of our referral practices…

SINCE she was a child, Sarah had envisioned a future for herself dedicated to working with animals and making a meaningful impact in their lives.

Having been raised by parents who were enthusiastic farmers and deeply passionate about their work, Sarah grew up surrounded by animals. This upbringing instilled in her a drive to pursue a career that would bring her happiness and fulfilment.

Bright eyed and eager to gain experience in the world of veterinary medicine, Sarah’s professional career began at a family run small animal practice in West London at the age of 17.

Whilst working at the practice she trained at Berkshire Agricultural College to become an RVN.

Seventeen years later, Sarah wanted to grow her skills in a different area of veterinary practice and was looking to relocate out of London for a change of lifestyle and that’s when a perfectly timed position at Anderson Abercromby Veterinary Referrals cropped up.

She said: “When I saw the position advertised back in 2012 for a veterinary nurse at Anderson Abercromby, I jumped at the chance to apply and was absolutely thrilled when I was offered the position. It was an opportunity for me to start a new chapter of my career and gain experience in orthopaedics and anaesthesia, two areas of veterinary that I was relatively unfamiliar with at the time.”

When Sarah joined the practice, it wasn’t long before she settled into her role and quickly became a cherished member of the team, which consisted of just 10 colleagues at the time.

Eager to play a more active role in supporting her colleagues and to take on more responsibility at the practice, Sarah took on the role of head nurse in 2019 and is thriving with the extra responsibility of managing a team of 14 nurses.

Sarah said: “In my role, no two days are ever the same, which is something I love about it. I’ll be doing anything from assisting with surgeries to fix fractures or more advances cases such as hip replacements, performing anaesthetics, arranging repairs, managing the rotas, interviewing potential new colleagues, attending clinical meetings, and having personal development progress meetings with my nurse team.

“Every day is different at our practice, but we do have full control over our diary, so we usually know exactly what cases are coming in the door ahead of time so we can prepare well ahead.

“I find my role very fulfilling but more than anything, my main priority is supporting the nursing team and being there for them if they want some advice, to help them with their career development and just be a listening ear if they need someone to talk to.

“I’m lucky to work with an amazing nursing team some who have been in the profession for over 30 years and others who are only newly qualified. I love working with such hard-working people who have varying levels of experience as they each bring something different and unique to the team.”

Whilst she says her role as a head nurse is extremely rewarding, she admits there has been tough times at the practice, such as during the Covid pandemic when she had to manage her team so that they were adhering to Covid safety protocols whilst remaining open for emergencies and ensuring the practice were providing the best possible care for patients during this uncertain time.

Sarah has also been a helping hand and shoulder to cry on for her team, which was needed more than ever with the tragic loss of Anderson Abercromby’s clinical director Angus Anderson in January 2023.

“The sudden loss of Angus was an extremely sad time for us all,” she said.

I remember how upset I was and having to deliver the news to my team whilst trying to keep it together myself, I must admit was challenging for me. But I knew I had to be there for my team and help us all get through this difficult period.”

Sarah has also dealt with her own personal battles along the way as she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2022 and says the reliable routine of work and support from her team have helped massively in her recovery following her treatment and surgery.

When asked what the highlights are of her role are as head nurse she said: “Even though I’ve been in this profession for nearly 30 years, there’s still nothing that beats the feeling of seeing the immense joy on a clients face when we tell them their pet has returned to full fitness and that they can go home safe and well.

“I’ve never once regretted becoming a veterinary nurse and later a head nurse, I’m an animal lover at heart and I could never imagine doing anything else. I also get a real buzz out of helping support my nurses to progress in their careers. It’s really rewarding to see them go from having little experience in referral practice to excelling in their roles. Some are even working towards certificates.

“For anyone who’s considering becoming a veterinary nurse at a referral practice, I’d say go for it especially if you have a keen interest in surgical nursing and orthopaedics as it’s a great opportunity to broaden your career and skillset. Being a veterinary nurse is an extremely rewarding career.”




Article written by Rachel Neill, VetPartners PR & Communications Executive. Email