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10 reasons why every veterinary practice owner should pay for their nurses to join the VNCA

Posted in Management @ Sep 29th 2016 - By Judy Gillespie

Updated September 2016

Back in 2012 I had the pleasure of having a coffee with Jo Hatcher & Helen Power from the VNCA during their recent ‘Unleashed’ Conference.  I was really impressed with how passionate the Association is about providing support, resources, and guidance for veterinary nurses in Australia.  We were discussing the tough issues that nurse’s face including low wages, high burnout and low industry retention rates.  It’s just sad when someone has to choose between a career in a job they love and buying a house!

I know the industry as a whole struggles with low profitability and many, many practice owners recognise how essential nurses are to the success of their business.  They recognise the fantastic range of skills, expertise and passion their nurses contribute every day and would love nothing more than to pay them more money – if only they could afford to pay them more money.   Increasing the profitability of veterinary practices is a huge topic and not one that can be addressed in just one blog but I think everyone involved recognises the essential role that veterinary nurses play in the achievement of this goal.

So why do I think every practice owner should pay for ALL of their nurses to be members of their national association?

Reason 1: Synergy = Your business aims & the VNCA aims

As the national association of veterinary nurses in Australia, the VNCA’s mission is “ .. to provide support and direction for Veterinary Nurses and set and maintain standards of excellence in animal care through quality education.” 

Doesn’t this fit perfectly with what you hope to achieve in your practice?

Reason 2: Cost – Full VNCA membership for 1 year is only $126.50!

I still can’t believe how reasonable it is to be a member of the VNCA.  I’m quite convinced though that this is all relative - $126.50 is still a large sum if your rate of pay isn’t that high! 

Reason 3: Every practice wants to provide the best possible care for their patients

The VNCA provides access to CPD that includes leading edge medical and practical information provided at both national and state levels through seminars, workshops, the VNJA, their Annual Conference and more. What better way to provide the best possible care for your patients than work with nurses who are continually developing and improving their skills and knowledge?

Reason 4: Increase your practice profitability

The more highly skilled, confident and happy your staff are the greater the range and quality of services you can offer your clients.  The greater the range and quality of services you offer – the more satisfied your clients will be and the happier they will be to accept your fees as reasonable for the services provided.

Reason 5: Membership encourages networking – Part 1: Problem solving & best practice

Professional networking offers huge benefits to both the individual and the business in which they work.  Networking with others in your industry helps solve problems and develops best practice which means everyone benefits. 

It’s also a great opportunity to compare and discuss issues of common interest as well as develop and share ideas, innovation and knowledge of best practice.

Reason 6: Membership encourages networking – Part 2: Emotional support, understanding

Another benefit of networking is the emotional support and understanding you get from realising you’re not alone.  The knowledge that others also face the same emotional difficulties every day in their job can be a powerful coping mechanism during stressful times.

Reason 7: Develops pride in your industry

The veterinary industry is full of awesome people who genuinely care.  They do an amazing job in frequently stressful situations for often not great financial rewards. If you are a part of the veterinary industry then you have every reason to be proud of it.  Membership of national professional associations whether they are for vets, or nurses encourages and develops such pride.  

Reason 8: Showing your support of an Association that is aiming to improve the skills & knowledge of your staff

By paying for ALL of your nurses to be members of the VNCA you are making a statement that you support an Association that aims to set and maintain standards of excellence in animal care (SEE Reason 1 – above) and encourages pride and professionalism in their members.  

Reason 9: Range of benefits

Membership benefits include the ONLY Australian journal available for vet nurses (AVNJ); VNCA Scholarship Fund; Continuing education benefits- text book discounts, reduced CPD registration fees and the Annual VNCA Conference; and access to a range of support including the VNCA website & Workplace helpline.

The intangible benefits of being a member of an industry association shouldn’t be forgotten either. The personal satisfaction and pride mentioned above, that comes from being part of a Association that supports an industry you love can be incredibly powerful – especially as such support can also work as a powerful tool in retaining nurses in the industry.

Reason 10: Cost – seriously – just over $126 per nurse???

I know I’ve mentioned cost twice but that’s because $126 seems such a small amount for the benefits already listed.

$12.506/year is also a small investment to make to support your staff in their professional endeavours and ultimately their future - don't you think?

The VNCA is run by a group of volunteers, who are not only committed to building their Association but also find the time to work, manage their families, and generally juggle multiple balls in the air at the same time – just as so many of us do.  The more members they have, the greater the likelihood that the VNCA will be successful in achieving their aims – and I think they deserve all the help they can get!

So what’s stopping you?  Click here and join up your vet nurses online now!

Now in case you were wondering.... these top 10 reasons are all mine.  The VNCA has no prior knowledge of my blog.  If they did I’m sure they could probably come up with the Top 50 Reasons!

Ok I’ve had my say – now tell me what you think.  Do you agree that employers should support their vet nurses by paying for membership of the VNCA?


Chelsea Forrest-Smith @ May 16th 2012 9:58am
I am currently a member of the VNCA as I see the value this brings to me and my career. When I first started nursing 8 years ago my employer paid for me to be a member, and being new to the industry, I certainly saw the benefits from this membership. However, as time went by and I worked at other clinics and membership was not paid for me by my employer, I simply could not afford to keep up with my membership. Now that I am in a responsible role at my vet clinic (vet nurse manager) I felt it was important for me to show to other nurses the benefits and support that being a member of the VNCA offers. I believe that a lot more of the nurses I work with would love to be members, but once again, nearly $100 is a lot for them for membership for a year. My only gripe/suggestion for the VNCA is that they make their seminars significantly cheaper for members to provide more incentives for them to join up and remain members. The fees are still quite high for members vs non-members, so if you only want to attend 1-2 seminars per year, it is still cheaper than being a member. Other than this one suggestion, I enjoy being a member of the VNCA and receiving my magazines and feeling part of the vet nursing community. I think employers should definately support nurses more and help them realise the value and importance of their hard work.
Judy Gillespie @ May 16th 2012 10:05am
Hi Chelsea Thanks for your great comment! I agree - $100 is a lot to someone not earning so much but I honestly believe it's a minimal amount for a business. I'm hoping that if we all keep talking about the benefits then maybe we can encourage practice owners to pay for membership - and it will become common practice. Spread the word!! :)
Aleena Johnston @ May 21st 2012 1:45pm
I see the value of Membership to the VNCA. As a current member i am on a personal mission to have all my nurses members as we have a total of 19 nurses and only 3 members. Our employer covers half the cost of the membership for all nurses. I love being a member and are greatful that there is a council that supoorts our profession and us.
Judy Gillespie @ May 21st 2012 2:03pm
Thanks for your comments Aleena - sounds like you & I are on the same personal mission ;-) Apart from getting the boss to pay 100% of membership do you have any other suggestions on how to get the other 16 nurses you work with to join up? Regards Judy
Dave Nicol @ May 23rd 2012 8:34am
Great blog, I didn't even know this organisation existed. I will ask if my nurses want to join in today's team meeting. if they do i'll defo pay for them. They are invaluable members of my team and put up with me all day long. it's the very least I can do!
Judy Gillespie @ May 23rd 2012 10:33am
Hi Dave, Thanks for stopping by. I was interested to read that you weren't aware of the VNCA & I wonder how many other practice owners are in the same situation? Some good feedback for the VNCA! I know they're at the AVA conference now so hopefully that will help spread the message. Congratulations on the decision to offer membership to your nurses - I'd also be interested to know if they too are aware of the benefits of membership? Maybe you should show them this blog & the comments left by other nurses ;-) Regards Judy

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