Day 15 – Endure a day covered in bodily fluids…

Disgusting, I know, but there are always days when a cat has peed on you, a dog has slobbered all down your top, emptied their anal glands on you or vomited and had diarrhoea everywhere. Trust me when I say we would never do this if we didn’t love our job and the animals we care for. Veterinary Nurses will wash your pet, clean their kennel, clean up vomit and diarrhoea and do anything else required of them – why? Because they want to make your pet as happy and clean as possible. Cleanliness improves the chance of a good recovery and increases the demeanour of an animal, who may already be feeling stressed in a veterinary environment.

This photo has been shared extensively on Facebook, and is not for the faint hearted! (And is a common occurrence for most VN’s around Christmas time when a pooch thinks it’s a fabulous idea to eat all the Christmas chocolate- which is toxic to them!)

Day 16 – Work incredibly long and often unsociable hours!

The job is demanding- emotionally, physically and mentally. You can never put a ‘time’ on an animals illness – they aren’t just unwell between the hours of 9-5pm! If the practice you go to does their own out of hours, a VN might be there all weekend, or working late into the night. 10-12 hour days are the norm – it’s a long day but worth it for the job we love to do, have trained hard to do and for the lives we can help save. Are your veterinary nurse friends out on an evening, or away at weekends? Chances are a lot of them are not – as they may need to stay late and/or work evenings to ensure a happy and healthy pet, and a happy owner!

Day 17 – We are bearers of information!

When you walk into a practice and see notice boards full of interesting, relevant, up to date information, this will have been down to a veterinary nurse. We do this to help educate people in areas that are useful for that time of year – for instance, information on microchipping when the law had been passed to make it legal, or information on fleas around the summertime when they are more prevalent, or vaccinations when the puppy and kitten boom is big! The more knowledge you have, the better life an animal will have!

This was always a job of mine and one I thoroughly enjoyed as I was able to bring my creative side out!

Day 18 – Critical care nurse

Some Veterinary Nurses train or specialise in areas of critical care. They are quick thinking professionals who work tirelessly under very stressful situations, ensuring your pet is well cared for and treated. They are the triage nurse who assesses the severity of cases in order to refer the most critical to the vet if needed.

I have the utmost respect for nurses who work as an emergency nurse, and would love to do more CPD in this area. A knowledge and understanding of animals, their potential problems (as they are unable to vocalise this to us!) and how to react quickly and correctly in order to save a life, is truly incredible. Also having to deal with animals that can’t be saved, despite all a VN’s efforts, is a heart-breaking thing, yet they have to continue on working with their next emergency patient. It is physically and emotionally exhausting but so worthwhile!

Day 19 – Surgical nursing

In many practices are surgical nurses – those who will ‘scrub in’ and be sterile to help the vet perform procedures and be a second hand should they need one, and are important in assisting with the surgical equipment such as instruments and drapes. As a student nurse, we learn how to put on surgical attire in a sterile way (it takes a bit of practice!) but ensures that during a surgical procedure, nothing in the external environment will cause any problems at all post operatively (i.e infections).

Day 20 – Clinical Coaches

A clinical coach is a Veterinary Nurse who is trained and able to teach and help our aspiring student Veterinary Nurses through their studies whilst out of college. I worked full time and went to college on block release, and my Clinical Coach at work would make sure that I had enough experience in all areas, ensuring I had a great skill set. They would check my college work and push me to work harder if I needed it. Since qualifying I have seen other nurses on my course already go on to become Clinical Coaches, to guide other student Veterinary Nurses.

Day 21 – Phlebotomists

Taking blood samples – this is done every day on unwell animals, animals having routine operations, senior animals, and at times of emergency, for example. This is done on a variety of species so having a nurse who is experienced in handling different animals correctly is key too. When taking a sample, a good, clean technique is required, and knowledge of veins and location is essential too, all learnt through correct training and experience. Not only will a Veterinary nurse being calmly handling an animal, and another taking a sample, they will also be running these bloods in the laboratory and working the biochemisty and haematology machines (and be the ones on the phone to the lab company when they suddenly decide to stop working for no absolute reason!!!)

Check back here next week for Part 4!