Remi Onabolu is a Registered Veterinary Nurse and a current vet student at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). She has a keen interest in small animal emergency critical care and soft tissue surgery and is highly driven to encourage students to pursue their career goals. She sat on the Student led Interprofessional Education committee at the RVC (2019-22) to promote the importance of teamwork between vets and nurses, works part time for Vets Stay Go Diversify, and is co-founder of Scrub Mentors, a free veterinary and dentistry mentorship programme for students interested in going into either of the professions.
Please summarise your career journey so far
I’m a Registered Veterinary Nurse who studied at the Royal Veterinary College (qualified 2019). Since then, I have completed my BSc in Veterinary Nursing and then decided to change my path; starting a course in veterinary medicine at the same university in 2020. A lot of people ask me why I decided to change but I think I’m just delaying having to be a full-time adult.
I loved being a nurse and even got to do some locum work at my university’s hospital but I felt like I wanted a different type of responsibility in practice. As well as being a student, I do some admin work with Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify (VSGD). I met Ebony Escalona (the founder of VSGD) at a Katie Ford talk back in the beginning of 2020. I accidentally mistook Ebony for being a fellow student at the time (which I now realise was a compliment). I guess she must have followed some of the things that I’ve worked on since we met, which led her to offer me a role at VSGD.
Alongside my studies, I’ve worked on projects such as SVNFest in 2019 (the first student vet nurse (SVN) congress run by SVNs), helped to run an online interprofessional congress during COVID, and assisted with VSGD Live 2022. I currently run Scrub Mentors, a free online mentorship platform that assists students thinking about going into a career in veterinary nursing or veterinary medicine.
I’m still figuring out what I want to do in the future, but I’m learning that I can do anything with my veterinary passport and that I don’t need to achieve everything at once. However, my next aim is to get through rotations.
Describe your typical day from waking to sleeping
My day varies since I’m a full-time student. Since COVID, I have really embraced doing lectures online so I could catch up on the live lecture recordings in my own time. My mornings and afternoons are busy with lectures and going through case studies with my tutor group online. I then have weekly meetings with the VSGD team for an hour where we catch up and discuss our aims for the following week. I’ll finish my off my lectures, do some VSGD admin work and check my emails. I’m definitely more of a night owl so I feel more productive doing work until the early hours of the morning. When I’m not doing work, you’ll either find me doing pole fitness in the evenings or at the gym.
How would you describe yourself in a sentence?
I’ve got to admit that I’m an overthinker, easy going (paradoxical, but accurate) and creative.
How would others describe you in a sentence?
I’ve been told that I’m hardworking, ambitious and caring. (I promise that I didn’t pay anyone to say that for me).
What has been your top success and what have you learned from this?
VSGD Live 2022 – I was part of the organising team for this in October 2022. I managed delegate comms, making the programme and helped with the smooth running of the day. It was an amazing chance to work with the VSGD team on a large-scale project and to see something big come to fruition. As fun (and a tad stressful) as it was, it was almost easy to forget that I was still a full-time student that had lectures going on (luckily they could all be watched back online). This meant that I had to be realistic with my capacity and workload. The team have been great at teaching me to say ‘no’ to taking on additional tasks when I should be tackling uni work.
So what have I learnt from this? Don’t feel bad saying ‘no’ if you haven’t got capacity. Your team can’t read your mind, so let them know when your cup is full because a good team can always share the load. I admit that I’m still learning that saying ‘no’ is not the end of the world – more opportunities will always come when you have the time for it.
What has been your biggest challenge, setback or failure and how have you overcome it? How did you grow or change as a result?
My mindset is probably one of the things sets me back the most. I always knew that I had feelings of imposter syndrome, especially after I qualified as a nurse, but it kicked in again when I started vet school. I did the accelerated veterinary medicine course so I had the pressure of paying for the course out of my own pocket mixed with the fact that I HAD to pass as I could not afford to resit. A lot of my peers had completed degrees before vet school, so I felt out of depth when topics were genetics or pharmacology heavy. I honestly felt like an imposter as it took me longer to understand things compared to people who had Masters degrees. I did an online mastermind group coaching course with Katie Ford where I got to speak to other vets and vet nurses who felt the same. Surprisingly, specialists experienced the same feelings as myself. I realised that the amount of letters after your name truly don’t correlate with not feeling like an imposter. I try to remember that I got this far due to my own efforts, and I should not let the negative voice in me think anything different.
What advice would you have given to your younger self, that you would now give to others wanting to follow your path?
I’d start off by saying to believe in myself. We know a lot more than we think we do, so put some trust in yourself. Sometimes, just waiting until you are ‘ready’ will mean that you’ll never be ‘ready’. So take the plunge and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
I’d also suggest taking time out and appreciating how far you’ve come. We get too wrapped up in wondering how we’ll achieve the ‘next best thing’, but never take a second to realise we’ve already achieved a lot.
I couldn’t have got where I am today without…
Open book exams! But in all seriousness, my network. I am so thankful for the amount of help that I’ve had to get me where I am today. Whether it’s been from asking a nurse who I have never met before to read over my university personal statement (I still owe them a drink), to the online veterinary community who submitted tips for my book called ‘Things I wish I knew as an SVN’.
What are your three top likes?
- There’s nothing more satisfying than cleaning out dirty (animal) ears
- Working on projects – whether it’s putting an event together or being able to express myself creatively
- Cake – One of the things that I can never say no to!
What are your three top dislikes?
- Slow walkers – although I do walk pretty fast myself. I’ve been told that I constantly look like I’m walking to an emergency
- People that litter
- Rude people
What is the most helpful book you’ve read and why?
I recently read a book by Lennon Foo (we initially met at the BVA Live in 2022): ‘Vet for Life – The Essential Guide on How to Thrive in the Veterinary Profession’. It has a lot of great thinking points to help you work out what kind of vet that you want to be. It’s a must-read for any vet professional – especially new grads as it focuses on the financial aspect of veterinary practice and how to negotiate your salary.
Visit www.scrubmentors.com to find out more about mentoring students considering veterinary careers.
If you would like to get in touch with Remi, you can contact her through her LinkedIn page.
In a collaboration between Scrub Mentors, JHP Recruitment and Companion Consultancy, Remi also starred in a video to provide guidance to secondary school pupils considering a career in the veterinary profession, accompanied by a flyer of useful contacts.
Many thanks to Remi for sharing her story to inspire veterinary women to aspire and grow into their full
If you would like to share your story please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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