Vet nurse says she loves the variety of her job and is ‘utterly proud’ of what she does

Vets and vet nurses who work for Vets Now often talk about their colleagues as their second family.

They work together, encourage each other, and share their wins and their challenges. In many cases, the job becomes part of who they are rather than just a source of income, and they genuinely feel it adds purpose and meaning to their life.

Tanja Klein, who was born in Germany and trained as a vet nurse in Australia after turning 40, epitomises this. After years of travelling the world, she says she’s finally found her “true home” and “dream job” at Vets Now in Colwyn Bay.

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“Money can’t buy happiness and we spend the biggest part of our lives at work – not with family and friends,” she said. “It’s vital, therefore, to choose a career that makes us happy.

“Some roles are not mere jobs, but vocations and these are usually paid less than others. But that doesn’t mean those jobs, or the people who do them, are of less value – often it’s quite the opposite.

“At Vets Now, I have finally found a family and a place where I feel I belong.”

Tanja’s career journey is an intriguing one. After graduating from university in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1992 with a diploma in communications design, she began working as a graphic designer.

But after a decade slogging her guts out for various design and advertising agencies, she’d had enough. Tanja took on a role as a PA and did that for a further 10 years.

She said: “Working as a graphic designer meant being paid a very low wage for 40-hour weeks, but actually working 60 to 80-hour weeks, often overnight with zero overtime payment.

“The job came with zero ‘work-life balance’ and often impossible deadlines. After almost 10 years in advertising, I suffered total burnout.

“I possessed the skills required to be a PA – a job highly respected in Germany – so moved into that and over the years I worked for bank managers, IT consultants and insurance brokers.

“However, despite the relatively high salary for an ‘untrained’ job, I just felt it wasn’t for me.”

Image of Tanja Klein revising in Australia for Vets Now article on vet nursing
Tanja Klein revising in Australia

Two decades after graduating from university, Tanja found herself at a crossroads in both her personal and professional life. She was still keen to explore new horizons but, at the same time, she also wanted to find her true calling.

A lifelong animal lover, she decided to embark on a two-year veterinary nursing diploma in a college near Adelaide, Australia.

She said: “I’ve always had a passion for animals, but in Germany, a veterinary nurse is basically an ‘animal caretaker’, paid off with basic breadline wages that do not allow for an independent life without the financial support of parents or a partner.

“That’s why I never contemplated joining the profession while still in Germany.

“I wanted to emigrate to Australia, but to have a chance of doing that at my age, studying for a new role was my only option and veterinary nursing was one of the few affordable courses — and I was tired of desk jobs and office routines.

“It’s a decision I’ve never regretted.”

After gaining her diploma in December 2013, Tanja moved to the UK to take on a job as a vet nurse in a first-opinion practice in mid-Wales. But she soon turned her back on permanent jobs in favour of doing locum shifts.

It wasn’t until August 2016 that Tanja returned to a permanent role with Vets Now after completing our Nursing Edge induction programme.

Image of Tanja Klein and senior vet Vivien Ryan for Vets Now article on vet nursing
Tanja (left) and senior vet Vivien Ryan (right)

“At Vets Now, I have finally found a family and a place where I feel I belong.”

Tanja Klein Vet nurse Colwyn Bay

She said: “I’ve never been a big fan of ‘same old, same old’ routines, and that’s what day nursing mainly was. I found working in ECC out of hours was totally different. You’d never know if a shift was going to be quiet or busy, or what cases you might see.

“A highlight for me was helping a French bulldog bitch through a difficult pregnancy.

“Sadly, she had produced one dead puppy and another was stuck, so the vet opted for a caesarean. The ‘stuck’ puppy sadly could not be saved. However, three more were inside and, thanks to the vet’s skills and my resuscitation efforts, they survived.

“The amount of adrenaline and endorphins in my blood after the successful procedure was enormous — it was a great feeling. Cases such as this remind me why I chose this job.”

Tanja, who is currently studying for the Cert VN ECC, added: “I really enjoy the hands-on element of nursing — the daily contact with lovely animals, the thought of helping the vet make pets better and having something to show for my hard work at the end of a day.

“For the first time in my life, I am utterly proud of what I do for a living. I enjoy it when people outside work ask me for advice regarding pet care. It is also comforting to know veterinary nurses will always be needed. You might not get rich, but you will always find a job, providing you are agile and stress-resistant enough.”

To find out more about our veterinary nursing roles call our talent team on 01383 841181 or click here. The full version of this interview can be found here.