The British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) created Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month (VNAM) to demonstrate the importance of the role of the Veterinary Nurse. VNAM is held every May and helps educate pet owners about the role of the Veterinary Nurse.
Being a vet nurse is not just about cuddling puppies and kittens (although this is a perk of the job.) Becoming a veterinary nurse takes 2 to 4 years of study with a combination of working in veterinary practice and demanding exams demonstrating both theoretical knowledge and practical ability. Like Vets, Veterinary Nurses also have to learn about a variety of species unlike our ‘human’ nurse equivalents who only have to deal with one species!
However, like human nurses, Registered Veterinary Nurses are highly skilled in their own right. Once qualified you gain the title Registered Veterinary Nurse and are included on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) register.
Nurses must also make sure that they keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Once they have qualified nurses must provide evidence of continuing professional development (CPD) of at least 15 hours per year and pay an annual fee to remain on the RCVS register. Being on the register allows nurses to carry out schedule 3 acts under the direction of a veterinary surgeon which includes minor surgery such as suturing wounds, lump removals and descaling teeth.
The Veterinary Nurse role consists of many other skills including anaesthesia, phlebotomy, radiography, laboratory technician, nutrition, theatre nursing, consulting nursing, dental hygienists – Veterinary Nurses must master all these skills, and more! We are also involved actively in 24 hour emergency care.
There are many opportunities for veterinary nurses to gain further qualifications in a particular area, especially when working in large referral centres. Subjects include: oncology, radiography, emergency and critical care, surgery/theatre, anaesthesia, behaviour and equine. Within the nursing team at Damory we have nurses that have gained or are studying towards the following further qualifications: Feline nursing, Anaesthesia, Surgical nursing, Exotic nursing and an Advanced nursing degree.
What do Veterinary Nurses do?
In a routine day (not that any day is routine!) nurses start by admitting day patients for surgery or medical work ups, we have an inpatient nurse who is dedicated to caring for both day patients and hospitalised patients. Theatre nurses will pre-medicate patients, take blood samples, place intravenous catheters and prepare for surgery ready for the Veterinary Surgeons.
As theatre nurses we monitor the anaesthetised patients during their procedures before handing the patients over at recovery to the inpatient nurse to monitor. We are also responsible for disinfecting theatres and surgical instruments. We assist the veterinary surgeon with taking x-rays and monitoring sedated patients. There is also a consulting nurse carrying out nail clips, post-operative checks, taking blood samples and bandaging. Throughout the day the nursing team must also complete lab work including blood work up, cytology of skin and blood, urine testing and worm egg counts for equine and farm animal patients. We also assist the veterinary surgeons with consultations and dispensing medications for patients.
At the end of the day we are involved in discharging the patients to go home following their procedure. We must then prepare for the surgery for the next day leaving the night nurses to continue caring for the hospitalised patients and deal with any emergencies.
Veterinary nurses are the unseen workforce in practice and VNAM aims to educate pet owners about the importance of veterinary nurses to their pets care and wellbeing.
Ref: ISFM & BVNA
By: Damory Vets