Racheal Marshall is Head of Clinical Nursing at Vets Now and our new Congress coordinator

This year’s Vets Now Emergency and Critical Care Congress takes place at the Royal Armouries, Leeds on November 9 and 10. It’s the 20th year of the event that has become an important fixture in the veterinary calendar. Racheal Marshall, Vets Now Head of Clinical Nursing, is one of the programme coordinators and she tells us why there is something at the Congress for everyone in the profession.


What’s your veterinary background?

I qualified as a vet nurse over 20 years ago. I worked in a busy general day practice then left to teach veterinary nursing for a short time. But lecturing wasn’t for me, and I missed the hands-on clinic work so joined Vets Now 15 years ago. I started as a nurse in the Bradford clinic, became what was then a senior nurse at Sheffield, then a District Manager and I’ve been Head of Clinical Nursing for the past eight years. I’ve always loved the fact that in ECC we play such a big part in those critical moments in an animal’s life and that as vet nurses we get to use so many of our skills.


What does the role involve?

Very occasionally – like during Covid – I step back into the front line, but primarily I’m responsible for the professional and clinical standards of our veterinary nurses. Not only ensuring we follow our professional regulations, but also driving our clinical standards forward and seeing vet nurses are right at the forefront of our teams. I get huge satisfaction from the role as, rather than just being able to treat one patient, you are working to raise the standards of care, helping thousands of patients and clients. I’ve also sat on the RCVS Council and been Chair of the RCVS Veterinary Nursing Council, so I’m always looking for ways to promote veterinary nursing and help advance the whole profession.


What have you been doing as a programme coordinator for Congress?

I will be taking over from Arlene Connor who has done a fantastic job over the last five years. This is my first Congress working alongside her, Dan Lewis and Simon Hagley. We have been coming up with the concept, selecting the speakers, deciding on topics and thinking about how the streams will look.


What can we expect?

We wanted to make it more hands-on, with practical workshops and ensuring delegates can interact with the speakers during limited enrolment sessions. It’s also a little different this year in that on the first day, the general stream of lectures will follow the same case. So, each lecture will be about an animal that has had a trauma and we’ll see the progression of that case as it’s treated.


How important is the ECC Congress within the veterinary profession?

This is the biggest ECC Congress in Europe, so I think it’s very important. It’s interesting to see how it has grown and developed over the 20 years. I’ve only missed one – when I was on maternity leave – in the past 15 years. And while it was seen as a Congress for Vets Now staff when I started, now we get many more external delegates. It’s open to everybody and it has a great reputation outside the company. We have world class speakers, an amazing programme and a brilliant social element.


Tell us about that social side.

It’s a big part of it. Obviously during Covid we made it work well online, but you can’t beat the interaction and meeting face-to-face. You’ll see someone you haven’t met since last Congress, and you’ll just carry on the conversation as if there wasn’t 12 months in between. There is a massive networking element, and you can learn so much from chats between lectures. Everyone is so friendly, and you quickly feel at home even if it’s your first one.


How do you reflect looking back over the past 20 years?

We’ve changed massively as a company over that time, the veterinary profession has changed, and the treatments have changed. We’ve made sure the Congress has kept up with those fast-moving times, stayed relevant and always showcased what people need.


So, finally, why would you say people should make Leeds their destination this year?

The stream of lectures covers all eventualities. Most people in the veterinary profession will see emergency cases at some point. If you are seeing a lot of emergency and critical cases, there’s something for you like the advanced veterinary nursing stream which is new for this year. If you don’t see them a lot, we have general streams that can help make them seem that little less scary. And there is also the exhibition area with lots of interesting stands where you can see what’s new. So, there really is something for everyone.


Register now for the 2023 ECC Congress!

Get all your Congress info and register here