Principal Nurse Manager and mum-of-two Lindsey Fidler chats about her career journey so far.
Lindsey Fidler RVN, BSc (Hons), PgD, CertVNECC is Principal Nurse Manager at Vets Now’s thriving Sheffield clinic. In this Q&A Mum-of-two Lindsey tells us how she’s found the perfect balance between family life and the nursing job she adores.
Was vet nursing always your career plan?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I had always been into horses – I started riding when I was nine and bought a horse when I turned 18 – so I did a degree in equine sports science and psychology. I then thought I wanted to be a physio and applied for an animal physiotherapy course. I was told I didn’t have enough small animal experience, so I applied to a practice in Doncaster and was offered a student nurse position.
How did you find that?
I loved it from the day I started. I’m not one for sitting behind a desk and it was active, and every day was different. You were forever learning, and you would always come across something you hadn’t seen before. I moved to another practice in Chesterfield in my second year of training and was offered the Head Nurse position within months of qualifying in 2012. I was there for a couple of years before going on maternity leave.
And what happened on your return from maternity leave?
When I was ready to come back after having my first daughter, we didn’t really have any childcare and I realised the hours of day practice just weren’t going to work and I needed something flexible. That’s when I saw a role at Vets Now. When I was in day practice, seeing the emergency cases used to get my adrenaline flowing and I really enjoyed that. I knew ECC medicine would be a great new challenge for me, as well as fitting in well with being a new mum.
I’m not one for sitting behind a desk and [this job] was active, and every day was different. You were forever learning, and you would always come across something you hadn’t seen before.
How was it at Vets Now?
I started on back shifts, working Thursdays and Fridays and then every other Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, I’d been out of nursing for a year on maternity leave and I was also moving into a very different role, but everything was made really easy for me. There was always support from the team and I worked through the required CPD, looking at emergency procedures and all the equipment.
Did you feel you settled in well?
Without a doubt. I’ve been here for over six years and I can’t ever remember working at Vets Now and not enjoying it. I think I really took to ECC medicine straight away.
You’ve had another baby since. How was the experience of that maternity leave and coming back?
I had Millie when I’d been at Vets Now for just about a year. There was great support all the way through, and I did some KIT shifts. I was coming back to the same role, and I really looked forward to that as everyone is so friendly and welcoming.
Tell us about the love for ECC you’ve developed.
I love the variety, just not knowing what cases you’ll be seeing or what inpatients you’ll have that night. You don’t know what challenges you’ll face or what you’re going to learn.
How did the move to PNM come about?
When the role became available in 2019 after our PNM left, it was something I had to think about as Millie wasn’t yet in full-time education. But after chatting to my husband, I decided doing that role in a clinic I loved was too good an opportunity to miss. When I was lucky enough to get the position, we just made it work around childcare and I’ve never looked back.
So, how does it work with your shifts now?
I do a couple of nights a week and a combination of weekend days. Being able to be there at the school gates to pick the girls up every day is priceless. Having free time lets me catch up with jobs around the house, see family and friends and just do all the things I want to do.
I knew ECC medicine would be a great new challenge for me, as well as fitting in well with being a new mum.
How have you progressed your vet nursing skills?
I finished my VNECC Certificate a year or so back and I feel that really gave me so much more knowledge. But I’m always looking to do more. At the moment, I’m deciding between an exotics and wildlife certificate and a new transfusions medicine certificate from the Pet Blood Bank.
We’re seeing growing numbers of them as one of our partner practices have vets who are exotic specialists. We’ve had a few snakes recently, a couple of different types of lizards and African pygmy hedgehogs. It’s not something I’ve had much experience with and in order to do justice to my patients, I feel the more I know the better I can care for them.
Do you feel there is always the opportunity to learn more?
Absolutely. There is so much CPD available, learning platforms where you can discuss cases and our district vets have monthly discussions about specific topics. And if you put forward a case to do something, Vets Now are more than happy to support you. It all makes you a better nurse. I’m privileged to work with experienced vets and nurses who are happy to share their knowledge. And I share what I know, including through regular CPD for my nurses, and I love seeing them progress and have those small wins. Teamwork is what this profession is all about.