Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month was founded in 2005 by the British Veterinary Nursing Association. Originally just National VN Day, it was not long before it became National VN Week, and it wasn’t long after that (2012, to be exact) until it became the brilliant, month-long campaign we know it to be today.
The campaign grows year by year and its aims are simple: to raise awareness of veterinary nurses’ importance and their valuable contributions to the veterinary profession.
What do Veterinary Nurses do?
Veterinary Nursing is a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding profession that encompasses far more duties than you might think.
To become a qualified RVN, a prospective veterinary nurse must study for 2 – 4 years. This will consist of both academic study at a relevant college or university and extensive work placements in practice, where they learn the necessary practical skills and gain vital experience.
Once qualified and registered, a nurse is added to the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Register and to remain there, they must complete a minimum of 45 hours’ continuous professional development every 3 years throughout their career. Only nurses on this register can correctly refer to themselves as Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs).
Veterinary nurses are known for their eclectic skillsets and their duties vary on a case-by-case, patient-by-patient basis. Strenuous as each working day is, it’s safe to say that no two are ever the same. They could be doing any (often all) of the following:
Assisting veterinary surgeons in theatre or during operations.
Caring for inpatients – whether it’s food, medicine or cuddles they give out or litter trays they clean up, inpatients around the UK receive the most attentive care from passionate veterinary nurses. They take blood samples, monitor anaesthesia and ready patients for their operations, as well as ensuring pets feel as comfortable as possible in an unfamiliar surgical environment.
Running Nurse Clinics, whose services include weight clinics and diet advice, dental checks, nail clips, the application of flea & worm treatments, puppy and kitten checks, geriatric clinics and behavioural advice.
Educating the nurses of tomorrow – Experienced RVNs often play a crucial role as Clinical Coach to student/trainee nurses. They’re also always on hand to educate new and experienced pet owners on a range of topics, be it preventative health care, diet or follow-up care after a surgical procedure.
Bringing new life into the world – Nurses will be midwives, assisting canine or feline mothers-to-be in various ways.
Providing emotional support – When a pet falls ill, has an accident or approaches their last days, it is an upsetting time for everyone involved. Though veterinary nursing is a hugely emotional profession, nurses will always provide assistance and advice to vets and owners alike, all with the wellbeing of the animal at the forefront of their mind.
Cleaning and organising – perhaps the most overlooked of all jobs within a veterinary practice. RVNs ensure that clinical environments and equipment stay sanitised and well maintained so that along with the staff, the practice itself is always prepared for any situation that arises.
As part of/as well as the above, a veterinary nurse will often:
- Check stitches
- Perform minor lump removals
- Administer first aid and bandages
- Bathe and groom pets
- Scale and polish teeth
- Administer fluid therapy and much, much more!
It definitely sounds like a job role worth celebrating to us! To find out more about Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month or to get involved, click this link. Do you have any stories about a fantastic veterinary nurse who went above and beyond the call of duty for you or your pet? If so, let us know.
Don’t forget, of course, that RVNs – along with vets, receptionists and everyone else in the veterinary profession – do what they do because they love animals, so if you’re concerned about your pet’s welfare in any way or you think they’re overdue a routine health check, get in touch today!