My journey from kennel assistant to operations support role

Sam Blackman

Sam Blackman, of Highcroft Referrals in Bristol, has taken on additional responsibilities in his workplace. He explains how he became an operations support manager with CVS.

How long have you been a VN / head VN, and what do you enjoy best about your job?

I started working in practice 12 years ago as a kennel assistant, quickly developing into animal nurse assistant training, which was followed by RVN training, and I qualified just over four years ago in 2014. Once qualified, I moved across to referral nursing within Highcroft Veterinary Group, with an interest in surgery and wound management.

A position became available at one of our other sites for a six-month secondment for a deputy head nurse. From there, I took a new position as referral nurse manager at Highcroft Referrals. During this role, my passion for people management and best practice grew, and this, in turn, led me to apply for the operations support manager for CVS (west region).

Tell us a little about your current role, what you enjoy, how you came to it, what you enjoy and what the challenges are.

My role encourages the development of local management within practice, with the cascading of information from senior management and HR queries.

A large part of my job is to support acquisitions into the business, helping to integrate the new team into the CVS family by providing a personal presence to those needing support, and achieving a successful merge within six to 12 months. The challenges are juggling the integration task list in order of priority for an individual practice’s needs, as well as delivering good quality communications to the rest of the group. This is overcome by enforcing excellent local leadership and autonomy of management staff.

I enjoy the fact I can change the experience for both pet and client by assisting practices with best practice and assisting the staff to develop – be that in a clinical or managerial role – and no two days are the same.

What has this meant for your everyday life as an RVN? What have you got out of it and how has it benefited you and the practice and its clients and patients?

I feel, as I have been through both the first opinion and referral disciplines I can provide a wide range of knowledge to a variety of nursing teams, to help them achieve clinical excellence.

How would you advise RVNs interested in developing their careers to go about it, and do you think enough are aware of the options available to them for additional qualifications?

CVS offers a large range of training and has a clear progression ladder. I would suggest to other RVNs who want to progress to keep good communication open with their clinical and regional directors to allow them to help shape their future.

Where would you like to progress to next? Are there additional areas you’d like to develop in?

My aim would be to develop into a regional director role, to allow me to build better and stronger relationships within the team and driving passion throughout our sector to develop others.

  • Want to share your career journey with colleagues? Email paulimrie@vbd.co.uk or telephone 01733 383554.

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