Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

Did you know that May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month?

This month has been created because veterinary nursing is so often overlooked. But it’s a vital part of your pet’s care, especially at times like this. If you’re not sure what vet nurses do or have been mistaken in thinking they’re vets-in-training, then read on for all the behind-the-scenes gossip you can get your hands on!

What is involved in veterinary nursing do?

Vet nurses are an incredibly important cog in the wheel of the veterinary practice machine. They’re the ‘girls in green’ (usually) and they keep the place running smoothly. They’re the guys that remind your vets to eat, they’re a shoulder to cry on, and they’re generally willing to risk being bitten when your vet can’t take any more. But they do so much more than just that. Veterinary nurses (also known as Registered Veterinary Nurses, or RVNs, which means they’ve passed their exams and are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) are behind everything you see and experience when you’re at your local veterinary practice.

Veterinary Nursing in the Hospital

Veterinary nursing in surgery

Whilst the vets are busy seeing consultations or operating, veterinary nurses are responsible for your pet in the kennels. As a rule, they’re the ones that make sure your pet is fed, watered and walked. Then, they administer medications and do examinations of the patients in their care, reporting any changes to the vet in charge of the case. In addition, they take blood samples and x-rays, hold pets still for examinations, and make sure that your dog gets plenty of all-important cuddles. Also, they’re usually the ones who call you with updates, or email you pictures of your pet having cuddles.

Veterinary Nursing in the Clinic

Nurses also have an important role in the clinic. Naturally, vet nurses take consultations just like human nurses take consultations. They’re there to talk to you about your dog’s dental health, your senior pet, diabetes or even discuss training your puppy- and they usually know more about diet and nutrition than the vets! They’ll clip claws, administer vaccinations and other medications, and apply microchips. They’ll even triage of emergency cases.

Nurses often take on difficult ongoing cases like diabetes because they’re so much more approachable than vets. They also collect animals at least as much as, if not more than, vets do, so will have seen most of these cases before and have personal experience of them.

Veterinary Nurses in Surgery

Veterinary nurses monitor your dogs’ anaesthetic, and adjusts it as necessary to make sure they’re safely asleep for their operation. They clip and prepare surgical sites, and often scrub in to help vets with the procedure. Some nurses also undertake minor routine operations themselves.

What is the training for veterinary nursing need?

A veterinary nurse is a highly trained member of staff. Veterinary Nurses take two to three years to complete their training, and many have had several years of experience before that. Veterinary nurses can qualify through two routes- either by doing a work-based diploma, or by doing a degree. The end result is the same, but they take differing lengths of time and have different requirements. At the end, nurses sit rigorous tests on anatomy, medications, signs of illness and professional conduct in their theory exams, as well as undertaking practical exams in handling, laboratory work, surgical procedures and CPR, just like a vet.

Your local practice may also have Student Veterinary Nurses (SVNs), who are those students undertaking their studies. Students can do just about everything that an RVN does, but needs to do it under the guidance of a nurse or vet until they are deemed competent.

When can I see a vet nurse instead of a vet?

 Vet nurses are able to do far more than they’re usually asked to. As long as your dog doesn’t need a diagnosis, the chances are high that your veterinary nurse can see you instead. Next time you find that your dog’s nails need clipping, anal glands need expressing, rabbit needs weighing or your cat’s teeth needs checking, ask your receptionist if your veterinary nurse can see you instead. Not only will this save you money, you’ll find a wealth of information you didn’t know you had access to.