Inside Blaise Referrals: fostering growth, collaboration, and care

RVN and OOH clinical team leader Sophie Powell talks leadership, learning, and patient care at Blaise Referrals, why she’s proud to be part of the team there, and the nurturing environment and emphasis on a continuous learning culture, and dedication to patient care.

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Could you share what inspired you to become a vet nurse?

Since I was young, I've always been fascinated with animals. Initially, I didn't even know you could be a vet nurse! Like many, I assumed everyone went straight to being a vet. However, as I spent more time in veterinary practices through work experience, I realised the vital role vet nurses play in patient care. I was drawn to the hands-on aspect and wanted to be involved in providing that care for animals while they're in the hospital. So, being a vet nurse felt like a natural fit for me.

How did you come to join Blaise? What drew you to the hospital?

I began my training at the RSPCA hospital, where I spent five rewarding years. However, after having two children, I needed a more flexible job. I started working with IVC Evidensia at a Vets Now hospital, because I wanted the flexibility they can provide.

I saw a position was available at Blaise Referrals, a brand new multi-disciplinary veterinary referral hospital which is also conveniently located near me. I saw it as an opportunity to step into a more senior role, particularly in the emergency department which is an area that really interests me. Transitioning into a leadership position has been fulfilling, especially in such a dynamic environment.

Could you describe your role as a team leader and the responsibilities you hold?

Leading the team at Blaise Referrals is really rewarding. We've been fortunate to have a cohesive and capable team from the start, which is crucial, especially in a new hospital setting. My role involves organising and overseeing daily operations, ensuring smooth coordination among staff members, and prioritising patient care in the emergency setting. Being the point person on the floor means I need to have a grasp of what's happening across the hospital to direct resources effectively.

Despite Blaise being relatively new, are there any memorable moments that stand out for you so far?

Something that always brings our team together is performing c-sections. It's a time when everyone collaborates and comes together. These moments highlight our teamwork and dedication to positive outcomes for our patients. As we continue to establish ourselves, I'm confident we'll continue to grow even stronger as a team.

What kind of support and progression opportunities are available for team members at Blaise?

We've implemented an induction program, particularly for night staff, to ensure they feel prepared and supported in their roles. Whether it's mentorship from experienced ICU nurses or tailored training sessions, we prioritise providing resources for professional growth. If there is a particular area hospital that you feel you need more training in, you’re able to spend time focused on learning that area.

The whole team is just lovely and amazing, we’re always getting positive feedback about how new team members are treated well and included in the team from the beginning. So that's one of the main things about Blaise. We always try and make everybody feel comfortable and supported.

What would you say you find most rewarding about your role with Blaise?

I love my job because my team feels comfortable coming to me with anything they need or want to learn. Everybody at Blaise has a real focus on continued learning and progression. We hold regular training sessions for everyone, including the out-of-hours teams. It's a constant progression, and I love feeling challenged.

At Blaise there’s a focus on the multi-disciplinary approach, we always say, "we don't have surgical patients, we don't have medicine patients, they are just Blaise patients”. We want everyone to feel like they're having a positive impact on the patient's journey. It's rewarding to see every area of the hospital contributing to the patient's care when they leave.

What would you say you're proudest of in your career so far?

I'd never worked in a leadership role before this so I'm proud of the response my team has had to me coming in. They have the confidence to come to me for extra training, and it's been rewarding to see them grow. Recently I had a member of my team tell me "I was feeling stressed last night until we spoke, and you just made me change my mindset and helped me feel better." It’s great to be able to provide that support.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have two little ones; they’re two and three so they keep me busy! It fits nicely with my role at Blaise as I'm part-time and I’m supported to work in a way that fits me and my family. I think there's a perception that unless you're in a full-time role, you won't be considered, but Blaise is inclusive, giving everyone an equal chance. My partner also works at Blaise! We both can do our roles and still have time for family.

What do you enjoy about living locally?

I live a short distance away from the hospital and there's plenty to do nearby. Nearby Blaise, there are some great street food vendors, so we often spend time there socially. It's also within reach of the cities of Birmingham and Worcester.

How would you sum up the ethos at Blaise?

Blaise focuses on maintaining a positive atmosphere where everyone's opinions are respected. Everyone wants the same outcome, and there's no pressure to conform. It's an environment where people can voice their feelings, and we work together to find solutions. It's all about the team and patient care.