As Veterinary Nurses we often receive questions relating to what our job actually involves. Our title seems to project scenes from either medical TV dramas or the popular children's show, Playschool.
Our role is unique in the fact that we don't fit into the 'doctor' box or the 'human nurse' category, in fact, we lie somewhere in between. Each day we face new challenges which result in the development of certain characteristics and skills. These enable us to provide better care and service to our much loved patients and clients.
From triaging emergencies, administering medication to hospital patients and managing reception duties, our mornings start as soon as we walk in the door. Our work doesn't stop there; we dodge cat swipes, analyse urine samples and scrub surgical instruments. In between jobs we provide nutrition and behaviour advice as well as discussing preventative care such as vaccinations. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to use our detective skills and reunite a lost pet with their worried owner or be a part of a caesarean surgery where mum wakes up with octuplets!
A large part of our job takes place when we put our surgical caps on and become the surgical nurse for the day. Before we even enter the surgery room we are assessing and preparing the patients by placing catheters, drawing blood and taking them for one last toilet opportunity. Shortly after, we become anaesthetists, surgical assistants and dental technicians; having the opportunity to relish in the successful removal of tumours, the smooth post-operative recovery of puppy de-sexings and hit-by-car rehabilitations just to name a few.
Not only do we care for our regular patients but we also take a special interest in native animals. We assist with diagnostic procedures (e.g. x-rays) and treatment, a recent example being a pelican entangled in fishing line. Sometimes our days are highlighted when we are able to participate in the care of an uncommon animal species, such as the Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike.
In between cleaning cages and discharging patients, sometimes we end the day saddened by the passing of a cherished pet and favourite patient. Often we become very attached to our patients and feel the clients loss and share in the sadness.
Despite claims, we always take our work home with us, whether we think and research about a patient or nurse a young animal through the night. We do it because we believe each animal has value and deserves a chance to live a long, healthy and happy life. The rewards we gain far outweigh the sadness and disappointment we may feel at times. We take the good with the sad and the vomit with the tail wag and prepare for the day ahead.
Written by Nurse Jessica Chila
On behalf of the team of veterinary nurses at Westlakes Veterinary Hospital