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From Vehicle Spraying to Veterinary Caring

Nikki McKinnel at SRUC Craibstone crouching in her vet scrubs and tartan boots to place a stethoscope on a large dog that is looking up at her

Nikki McKinnel at SRUC Craibstone

After working as a vehicle body sprayer for many years, animal lover Nikki Mckinnell took the opportunity to return to study after raising her two sons – now 11 and 18.

Having spent her whole life rescuing, rehabilitating and rehousing dogs, a course in Animal Care at SRUC’s Craibstone campus in Aberdeen was the natural choice.

She started with an Introduction to Animal Care before completing the National Certificate course. She is now coming to the end of the Level 2 Diploma Veterinary Care Assistant (VCA) course.

Nikki, 35, from Aberdeen, said: “After my two boys had grown up a bit, I searched for a course to get me on the right path and discovered SRUC.

“I decided to do the VCA course because I wanted to explore the medical side to animal care and get experience working in the veterinary environment.”

As well as attending classes, VCA students also spend a minimum of 600 hours gaining work experience in a practice.

Nikki started doing two days at Bridge Vets in Aberdeen, before getting paid work and continuing her practice hours at Ardene House – Aberdeen’s only hospital-standard veterinary practice – where she is currently doing three days a week.

Having returned to education many years after leaving school, Nikki has now been accepted onto an Animal Behaviour degree course at the University of Aberdeen.

“I would like to become an animal behaviourist,” she said. “The VCA course gave me access to enrol to university. The course is great for those looking to do vet nursing or become an animal care assistant or animal technician. It gives you a good idea of what the job of a Registered Veterinary Nurse entails.

“Thanks to SRUC, I was able to return to education a long time after leaving school, proving that you are never too old.”

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