Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month is celebrated every May, and we think rightly so here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre. Veterinary Nurses are a crucial part of our team, and being quite honest, we just wouldn’t be able to cope without them. Let’s hear three cheers for all our amazing Vet Nurses!!

So what does it take to be a Veterinary Nurse?

I know that the qualification is awarded through the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons), the same institution that confers my Veterinary Surgeon status upon me; other than that I really didn’t know exactly what is entailed. Eager to rectify my lack of knowledge I went in search of someone who is currently undergoing the process of qualifying as a Veterinary Nurse, our very own trainee, Lauren.

It was lovely to sit down and have a chat over a superb brew that Lauren made for us (apparently this is an essential skill that Vet Nurses need to learn *joking!*) and learn about her profession. As with any profession that requires study at a higher level, there are entry requirements to meet; prospective Veterinary Nursing students must hold at least 5 GCSE’s at A*-C grades, or the equivalent animal-based college course such as Animal Care or Veterinary Care Assistant.

There are a couple of ways to qualify as a Veterinary Nurse…….

One is by being a full-time University student, and the other is a more traditional apprentice type route. The apprentice style route involves working full-time and attending college one day per week, and this is the route which Lauren has chosen to follow.

Undertaking the training is no easy task; the training itself is incredibly intense and takes 3 years of rigorous study to complete. Clearly, this is a profession that only those with a true passion and dedication to animal welfare will opt to work in.

As well as the (seemingly never-ending!) assortment of written assignments and multiple choice question based exams, our Lauren has to complete a minimum of 60 weeks of work within a veterinary practice. SLVC has two practices, and between the pair of them we cover a wide selection of services and cases to give our trainees a wealth of experience and knowledge. Let’s put it this way, Lauren doesn’t get into much mischief, as there’s always something to do!

This hustle and bustle is great for another aspect of Laurens training requirements though; she has to provide a “Nursing Progress Log (NPL)” to provide the professional body with evidence that she’s undertaken, and is competent in, particular tasks and skills in the workplace. Examples of what Lauren is required to be competent in are: taking blood samples, administering certain medications, and monitoring anaesthetics during surgery. Our Lauren also has to pass a practical Veterinary Nursing exam to demonstrate her ability to perform X-Rays, insert Intravenous Cannulae, and to administer Intravenous fluids at the correct rates.

Our amazing team of Veterinary Nurses at SLVC………

Who between them have been at the practice for over 120 years!! Its not surprising that we rely on them so much!!

Sometimes it is we Vets ourselves that administer the required treatment and in this situation we rely on the skill of our Vet Nurses to handle and/or restrain patients – this isn’t always as simple as it sounds if we have an animal in pain. Even the meekest, mildest mannered pet can become erratic in their behaviour when they’re in pain or in a strange environment! Often, just the simple act of a cuddle or a fuss distracts our patient enough for us to do what we need to do, and this is testament to the genuine care that our nurses have for their charges 🙂

As part of the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team, our Veterinary Nurses are expected to work closely alongside myself and the other Veterinary Surgeons to deliver the very best standards of care to our patients and their owners. Preparing an animal for surgery and theatre is also one of the roles our incredible Veterinary Nurses undertake and this covers all aspects from clipping fur, cleaning the area to be operated on, ensuring the patient is warm, comfortable and stable during the procedure, and bandaging and monitoring them during and after surgery.

I have said before that Veterinary practice “ain’t all glamour and glitz”, and there’s an awful lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep our practices clean and hygienic. Most of the credit for this high standard of hygiene has to go to our wonderful nursing team, including Lauren herself.

The Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre nurses also run some clinics themselves.

A lot of these clinics cover routine care of animals; administering Flea and Worm treatments, giving injections of certain medicines, urine analysis, weight management clinics, general health checks, and puppy and kitten health and weight services.

Seriously, our Veterinary Nurses are the unsung heroes at SLVC and we would struggle to do half of what we do without their support and dedication, so I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.

Now, we’ve talked about the academic requirements needed to follow a career in Veterinary Nursing, but being a Vet Nurse is so much more than being able to take a temperature, or monitor blood pressure or breathing rate.

A good Veterinary Nurse has to be able to communicate well both to her fellow nurses and Veterinary Surgeons, but also to an animals’ anxious owner when they bring their fur-baby in to us when they’re unwell. Remaining calm under pressure is something else that a good Vet Nurse has the ability to do; anaesthetic and surgery often throw up unexpected situations and the ability to carry out tasks quickly and calmly is paramount.

Patience is obviously another vital quality of a Veterinary Nurse; wriggly patients can often need several attempts to get a suitable hold on them, or it may necessitate multiple tries to get an important sample from them. But what is the most essential quality of a Vet Nurse? Humour! Sometimes all it takes is a simple bit of humour to relax a patient and their owner, and to calm the nerves in tense situations.

Yep, it takes someone pretty awesome to become a Veterinary Nurse and so I think it only right that these amazing folks are recognised over a whole month of the year! Hats off to Veterinary Nurses far and wide, and around the globe – you’re all great. The Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre nurses absolutely rock!! If you happen to be popping into either of the SLVC sites during May, it’d be great if you say a special “Hi” to our incredible nurses.

Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂