A rowing world record holder and gold medal winner is now putting all of her energy into the training and development of more than 40 Leicestershire veterinary nurses and patient care assistants. Park Vet Group’s Sophie Connolly has enjoyed huge success in all things rowing, including a gold medal for England in the double sculls at the Home International Regatta in 2018 and setting an ultramarathon rowing world record during lockdown in 2020 – on a rowing machine in her house!
In her day job, Sophie started working for Linnaeus-owned Park in February 2021 as group nursing manager, giving her responsibility for a team of more than 40 registered veterinary nurses (RVNs), student veterinary nurses and patient care assistants at its practices in Glenfield, Whetstone, Saffron Lane and Scraptoft Lane.
She has been responsible for creating development pathways for RVNs ever since and is raising awareness of the vital role they play in veterinary practices as part of Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month (VNAM), which is held every May.
Sophie Connolly said: “I love being able to support development in the team. This ranges from supporting our patient care assistants to undertake further apprenticeships, supporting students from apprenticeships and degree programmes and supporting our team to grow and develop.
“VNAM is a perfect time to highlight the varied and vital role our RVNs play in practice and raise awareness of the many career development options available to them.”
Sophie Connolly qualified as an RVN in 2010, going on to complete her RCVS diploma in advanced veterinary nursing in 2015 and a masters of research in anthrozoology in 2017. It is this love of lifelong learning she is looking to instil in her team, along with colleagues including Faye Kilby, Park’s lead referral nurse, who has been with the practice since 2006 and qualified in 2009.
Faye said: “After qualifying, I went on to study for my advanced veterinary nursing qualification, where I gained in-depth knowledge of anaesthesia, radiology and surgery. I became deputy head nurse in 2015, where I gained valuable leadership skills, and went on to become our orthopaedic referral nurse. On my return from maternity leave in 2019 my role progressed to lead referral nurse to include ophthalmology.
“I am about to start a diploma in animal physiotherapy, where I am eager to qualify as a physiotherapist and provide our orthopaedic patients with outstanding aftercare. Having a dedicated group nursing manager at our practice is vital for encouraging nurses to focus on career development and see opportunities to grow and develop within the practice in the same way I have.”