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Sophie Venables, Lead Post Registration Programme Manager, Linnaeus

Sophie Venables, Lead Post Registration Programme Manager, Linnaeus

Unique Nursing Referral Training Programme Wins European Recognition

4 weeks ago

20th July, 2022 15h45

Linnaeus Group

Sophie Venables, Lead Post Registration Programme (PRP) Manager at veterinary group Linnaeus, has won a prestigious internal award at the Mars Make the Difference European semi-finals in Barcelona. 

Make the Difference (MTD) is a global recognition programme that celebrates Mars Associates who have lived the Mars culture and delivered extraordinary impact. The regional event welcomed around 160 participants representing more than 90 innovative projects from across the continent. The two-day event in June involved presenting to a panel of senior leaders at Mars, with Sophie competing in the People & Community category. She has now been selected to take part in the final in Washington DC later this year, which will welcome nominated Associates from around the world.

Sophie was recognised for her role in designing the PRP, the world’s first Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) preceptorship for multiple referral sites that recruits from education institutions across the UK. The programme launched in 2020 and supports newly qualified veterinary nurses as they enter referral practice. 

Sophie said:

“The PRP gives RVNs an extended induction into working in a busy referral setting. Having done it myself, I know that this can be a difficult jump without the right guidance. Creating a structured programme like the PRP ensures that nurses are set up for success.

“We developed the programme during the Covid pandemic, which meant our newly-formed team had only met once before the UK went into lockdown. We also needed to recruit nurses for the PRP and work with the participating hospitals virtually. Despite these challenges, we exceeded our targets and the PRP has become a success that can be replicated in other countries.”

The PRP comprises five professional development days and clinical learning with a qualified preceptor. Participants also complete projects to promote evidence-based clinical practice and quality improvement. To promote a good work/life balance the PRP RVNs have ringfenced time off rota to complete the work. 

The PRP has led to improved retention and upskilling of nurses at Linnaeus, with many participants training to become preceptors or clinical supervisors for subsequent cohorts. It now runs twice a year and has expanded from five Linnaeus referral hospital to eight* – with more PRP managers joining Sophie to oversee the training. Its next cohort starts in September. 

Andrea Jeffery, Chief Nursing Officer at Linnaeus, said:

“We are so proud of Sophie and the rest of the PRP team. The programme has already been a huge success and has grown considerably since it launched in early 2020. The judging panel at Mars were really impressed with the PRP and we’re now keeping our fingers crossed for Sophie at the global finals.”

Sophie was joined by fellow finalist Ellie West, Environmental Sustainability Lead at Linnaeus, who competed in the Sustainability category. Ellie’s project focused on achievements including the group’s Investors in the Environment programme; campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including No Need for Nitrous, We Go for Lower Flow and Paws to Turn Off; improvements in waste management; and its Safeguarding Antibiotics programme. Sophie and Ellie were both selected to represent Linnaeus at the group’s Achievement Awards in January. 

Sophie added:

“It was fantastic to join the large number of talented people who took part in the MTD European Awards. Projects in my category were innovative and life-changing, and ranged from addressing food poverty to removing stigmas around maternal mental health. The event taught me so much and I look forward to learning even more at the finals in the autumn.”

For more information about the Linnaeus PRP visit

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