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Catherine Wager

Catherine Wager Grad Dip VN RVN AFHEA 

Clinical Skills Centre Facilitator

I studied to become a Registered Veterinary Nurse at The College of West Anglia, first whilst working at an RCVS accredited general practice, before then completing my training and gaining a permanent position within the Small Animal Centre of the Animal Health Trust in 2008. I consider my time working for this referral centre of excellence to be my university experience; not only was I the recipient of great teaching and mentorship by those I worked with, but during this period I also completed with distinction the Graduate Diploma in Clinical and Professional Veterinary Nursing with the Royal Veterinary College. This course was transformative. It changed the way I both thought about and practiced my profession, showed me the importance of critical thinking and research, and ignited interests in evidence-based practice and professional and ethical issues. From here, I had a springboard into being published and presenting at continuing professional development courses and international conferences.
It was with energy and excitement from these experiences that I first became involved in teaching and in 2012 I again found myself at The College of West Anglia, but this time employed as a lecturer. Here I acted as course director for the newly started FdSc and BSc Veterinary Nursing with Applied Animal Behaviour programmes being delivered in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University; I also taught student veterinary nurses undergoing the same day release form of training which I had completed. Once again, I found myself fortunate enough to receive mentorship from experienced and passionate professionals. Their generosity and support, together with the intensive nature of my course development and teaching commitments, made my time working at the College a huge learning experience in the many principles and aspects of further and higher education.
Teaching was stimulating, challenging and immensely rewarding. I did not however, quite feel finished with clinical work, so I returned to the Animal Health Trust to retake my position as a theatre nurse, enjoying being able to again have first line involvement with patients after my time away. Whilst starting to consider what direction my veterinary nursing career might take next, an opportunity arose that appeared to give me the chance to incorporate all the varied skills I had been acquiring thus far into one role. So it was then, that in 2015 I started my current position as Clinical Skills Centre Facilitator within the Department. With the support of my Academic Lead, this position has again been one of growth and development. To date I have helped build a library of over thirty practical skills, developed innovative teaching and assessment methods, gained Associate Fellow status of the Higher Education Academy and not only presented posters at international conferences myself, but also supervised and supported two of our students to do the same.
In 2018 I was honoured to receive a Pilkington Teaching Prize in recognition of excellence in teaching at the University. What I have realised in doing so - reflecting on my career up until now - is how indebted I am to the many inspirational people I have encountered along the way. Among them, the general practice nurses who demonstrated such dedication and care to their patients and colleagues. The referral nurse who guest lectured at College, showing me a whole different world of opportunities as a specialist nurse, unbeknownst to her, inspiring me to pursue referral nursing. The theatre manager who works under pressure to deliver excellence every day, but who still took time to see something in
me and foster my interests and support my development, whether that included working with him or continuing my journey somewhere else. The course leader who put together the most inspired teaching programme for veterinary nurses and executed it with passion and verve. The mentor who was the voice of experience, reason and kindness in those early, overwhelming teaching days. The line manager who demonstrates compassion and generosity in all that she does. I realise then, as I make this list, that most of all a career is made of people - people like these. Like them, I believe that if we shine our lights brightly enough, we can all give something to others in their careers each day in our work, whether we ever get to know it, or not.

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