Vet nurse Ella on travelling the world, clinical coaching, and growing her skills with Dragon Vets

Ella Coldrick, a registered veterinary nurse since 2018, has built a dynamic career at Dragon Vets. After becoming head nurse at one of Dragon’s branches and coaching students, Ella took an 18-month break to travel and work in Australia, gaining invaluable experience in a large referral hospital. Upon returning to Dragon Vets, Ella brought back enhanced skills in internal medicine and surgical nursing. Committed to animal care since childhood, she thrives on the variety and complexity of cases at Dragon Vets. Proud of her career progression and role as a clinical coach, Ella continues to find fulfilment in her work every day.

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Can you tell us about yourself, your career path and how you came to work at the practice?

I’ve been a Registered Veterinary Nurse since 2018 and joined Dragon Vets as soon as I qualified. Working here I’ve really gained more confidence because we’re a bigger practice with a larger variety of cases. I then progressed to being head nurse of one of Dragon’s five branches and was a clinical coach to three students before taking a break to travel Australia and Asia for 18 months. I worked in Australia as an RVN for nine months in a large referral hospital gaining valuable experience, and enhancing my nursing and inpatient care by being part of the internal medicine and surgical nursing team. At the end of 2023, I returned to Dragon Vets.

What do you feel motivates you to work in the veterinary industry?

My motivation mainly comes from having a passion for animals from a young age, and there really isn’t anything else I could see myself doing. Being able to be there for people’s pets and provide them with the best patient care at different stages of their lives makes nursing a very fulfilling job to have. I love the practical sides of nursing and being able to use skills and knowledge across all aspects of nursing keeps the role interesting.

Can you tell us more about what it’s like to work as part of the team at Dragon Vets?

We have five practices within Dragon Vets, with a large incredibly skilled and passionate team who all have their own interests and areas they thrive in. Every day can be different with the variety of care and procedures we offer, which allows our nurses to find an area that interests them and may want to pursue more in the future.

What kinds of cases do you see at the practice?

We are a small animal practice where we see a large variety of surgery and medicine cases including orthopaedics, exploratory laparotomy /enterotomy/biopsies, BOAS, eye surgery, cardiac cases, diabetics/DKA’s, dentistry (with dental radiography), endoscopy/rhinoscopy/bronchoscopy/BAL, IMPA, IMHA, chemotherapy; as well routine procedures and consults and all ranges of accidents/emergencies.

What are your favourite things about working at the practice?

Being part of a friendly and experienced team with such a range of skills and knowledge, who help me gain more experience as a nurse with every case. I love asking questions during procedures/scans/inpatient care to get to know my cases better and the vets are always willing to help me learn more, as well being supported by the wider nursing team.

What do you feel the practice has to offer that someone thinking of joining might not know about?

We offer a large caseload across all areas of veterinary surgery and medicine between first opinion and referral, and we’re constantly growing. We have a large variety of equipment including laparoscopy, endoscope/bronchoscope, CT scanner and x-ray machine, anaesthetic ventilator and dental radiography.

What advice would you give to aspiring veterinarians or vet nurses?

To gain experience whenever you can to see if the job is right for you, there are many different factors to nursing and it can be so varied in different places and practices. You might not enjoy some parts as much as others but finding areas you enjoy and are passionate about is important.

What is a common misconception people have about working in the veterinary field?

People think you’re just playing with cute animals the whole time, which sadly we are not!

It’s a job that involves hard work, offering care and taking on a lot of responsibility. It can be emotionally very tiring, our cases can be difficult and a challenge for our skills too. But it is very rewarding and I wouldn’t do anything else!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work enjoy travelling to new places, long walks, exercising, baking and spending time with family, friends and the dogs.

What are you proudest of in your veterinary career so far?

For me, I’m proud to have built a good relationship with my practice and team, and to be branch head nurse early in my career. I’m also proud to have been a clinical coach and helped student vet nurses progress in their careers. I also really enjoyed being able to use my skills and qualifications on the other side of the world and gaining that valuable referral experience.

Tell us about your pets!

 My family dog is a 13 year old westie called Oscar who lives with my mum but enjoys all the attention and new toys/treats when I go and visit them. He is the best little sidekick.

At home I then have Luna the Lurcher who is a rescue who we have had from about 4 months old and she’s now 4 years, and Wilson the Whippet who is 2 years old and definitely acts like the baby! They both love long walks as well as being wrapped up warm on the sofa.