As some of you know, Love Street Vets are on the move! In less than two months, we are moving into new premises so we can continue to grow and improve our great wee community practice to support the pet owning community in Paisley. So I’m on the lookout for a new registered veterinary nurse to join our ranks and it was my job this week to write a job description. It also got me thinking about the role of veterinary nurses within our profession and especially, the roles my team have on a day to day basis.
I was horrified recently to read recently in an article that shareholder and director of one of the largest corporate veterinary groups in the UK suggested that nurses should only get the ‘mudane’ work in a veterinary clinic, suggesting that they are not qualified, driven or educated enough to manage anything more. I am very quick to educate anyone who mutters the word ‘just a nurse’ and here is why-
In order to become a veterinary nurse, the candidate will often study at college for 1-2 years to obtain an animal handling and care qualification. Then it’s on to either another specialist college or university to study for up to 3-4 years. But before they even obtain a placement, the student will need to undertake several hundred hours of work experience within a veterinary clinic. Often, this is made up of essentially working full time in a vet clinic whilst juggling other part-time work and family life. Once qualified, a veterinary nurse becomes a member of the Royal college of veterinary surgeons (RCVS) who regulate the veterinary profession through the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 to ensure the welfare, continued education and protection of our animals.
But what are the roles of a veterinary nurse? A veterinary nurse plays a crucial role in the veterinary team. They provide expert care for sick animals as well as a vital role in educating the public on animal care and welfare. In one day, a veterinary nurse will be an anaesthetist, help scrub in on operations to help the vet, take X-rays and administer medication and fluids to patients. They will carry out a range of diagnostic tests for example blood, faecal and urine samples.
They will call owners, chase up lab results, complete insurance forms and make sure the rest of the team runs smoothly. The nurse will comfort and support our patients and clients. Often, the nurse is the first port of call if an owner doesn’t understand information or needs some reassurance and support during difficult times.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the duties of a veterinary nurse. But perhaps you can now see why I take exception to anyone calling them ‘just’ a nurse! They are an incredibly valued and vital part of a veterinary team and the work they undertake is anything but mundane. I am honoured to be able to work with these amazing people and our vets, pets and owners are lucky to have them