27 May 2022

Our Veterinary Nurses

Speak to a vet

Claire Smith, Vet

As we come to the end of May which happens to be Veterinary Nurse Awareness month we want to give a huge shout out to our team of wonderful Registered Veterinary Nurses Megan, Claire, Emma and Gemma who our part of our team at our veterinary practice in Sandwich.

This team do an amazing job with the best attitude and care everyday.

We did a Q&A with them to find out more about the role of an RVN in a first opinion practice.

What was your first pet? 

Emma: My first pet was a rabbit called Sooty who was so friendly, he lived to an amazing 10 years old!

Megan: My first pet was an Irish Terrier called Ruby, she was a wonderful dog and instilled my love for Terriers from a very young age! She was always a very willing and well behaved patient for me when I would dress up and pretend to be a vet in my early years. 

Gemma: I had a dog, Freeway, a Tibetan Terrier and a ginger and white DSH Peppy when I was very young, so I’ve always had animals. I used to dress Peppy up in my dolls clothes and push her around in a pram, she didn’t ever object but I realise now how much she must have hated it.

What made you decided to become a veterinary nurse?

Megan: I grew up on a farm so I was always surrounded by animals, whether that was farm animals or our family pets. I felt inspired to go into a job in the veterinary industry as I enjoyed caring for them. 

Gemma: I always wanted to work with animals, to help to make them better and to make them feel more at ease when they are scared and away from their loved ones.

How long did it take you to qualify?

Megan: I trained as an apprentice in practice, going to college 1 day a week. It took me 3 years in total to train. 

Gemma: It took me 4 years to qualify as I found studying, working full time and having a horse to look after made it quite difficult but I was determined to qualify and follow my ambition. I had several knocks along the way but I just wouldn’t give up.

Emma: It took me 3 years to qualify, my training was actually delayed due to COVID.

What was the hardest part of studying to be a veterinary nurse?

Claire: Working long hours as well as studying – we worked nights when I was studying, before emergency hospitals existed.

Gemma: The hardest part was finding the time to study, in years gone by student veterinary nurses had to work all day and sometimes could be up all night with emergencies too. Working weekends oncall meant that’s potentially you could be awake from Saturday morning through to Monday evening.

Megan: Time management – studying to be a veterinary nurse is a course that you have to be very committed too, especially with working in practice full time, revision and college all at the same time. However, it is worth every ounce of effort put in and it’s all good experience for when you qualify. 

What part of the job do you love the most?

Claire: The variety, no day is ever the same!

Megan: It is incredibly rewarding to see poorly pets recover and get back to normal life after being in our care. I also really enjoy interacting and building rapport with our clients and learning all about their pets, as a profession we are just as committed to our clients as we are their pets. Without the client, the pet would not come to the vets. 

Emma: I enjoy seeing the results of my work, bringing care to sick animals and helping both acute and long term patients to get better. I also love theatre nursing, especially scrubbing in. 

Gemma: The cuddles! Joking aside, having time to give a cuddle makes such a difference to most pets (although some would much rather you stay as far away as possible). I love all aspects of being a veterinary nurse.

What’s the hardest part of the job?

Megan: As a profession we are a group of caring and nurturing people and it is hard when we cannot ‘fix’ every patient that we see, it is a sad reality that sometimes the patient is just too poorly to recover. 

Claire: Saying goodbye to patients.

Emma: Seeing poorly patients not get better and euthanasias.

Gemma: I find it very difficult when we know there is nothing more we can do, when we’ve exhausted all avenues and we have no more answers, it leaves owners devastated and that’s the hardest part of the job.

Can you describe how you assist the vets in the operating theatre?

Megan: As nurses, we are the vets’ hands, eyes and ears in theatre. Once the vet has scrubbed in for the procedure they are no longer able to touch the patient for monitoring purposes as they need to remain sterile. Our job is to monitor the patient’s vital signs such as heart rate, breathing and temperature and report these to the vet to ensure these are of optimum level whilst the patient is anaesthetised to ensure a stable anaesthetic and a smooth recovery. 

Claire: Nurses set up theatre for the day this includes equipment such as our laparoscopic tower, instruments and heat pads. We help the vets to anaesthetise the patient and prepare the patient for surgery – clip clean and scrub. Nurses monitor the patient whilst under anaesthetic this includes heart rate, breathing rate, core temperature, blood pressure and depth of anaesthesia. Once out of surgery nurses continue to monitor the patient in recovery.

Do you have any top tips for anyone thinking about becoming a veterinary nurse?

Megan: Experience! Get as much work experience in practice as possible and try to attend different practices as all practices do things differently. Ask lots of questions whilst on work experience and get involved, this will give you a good idea if vet nursing is the right career for you. 

Gemma: I wouldn’t change my decision to become a veterinary nurse for anything, I followed my dreams, it was hard but I did it! My advice would be to make your dreams reality, work hard and don’t give up when the going gets tough. Determination will pay off.

Claire: Volunteer at a local vets or kennels/cattery to gain experience with handling pets. Most of us start this way if possible and if you have good work ethic there is sometimes the opportunity to be taken on permanently.

Any standout patients or cases in your career as a veterinary nurse?

Megan: During my training days we had a very sick patient who was diagnosed with Addison’s disease. On arrival to the practice this patient was collapsed and in a critical and unstable condition, however with the good care and the right medication to help her adrenal glands do their job she was bright, walking and excited to eat very soon after. Seeing a patient go from strength to strength at the hands of the veterinary team is so rewarding.

Emma: When I first started at Beacon view I helped out with an emergency where the patient had a condition called Gastric Dilatation-volvulus (GDV). This is a very serious life threatening condition for dogs which requires emergency surgery. Before joining Beacon View I had never seen this before. Thankfully the patient recovered very well after surgery which was extremely rewarding to see.

Claire: So many, they are all special in their own way.

What’s the best thing about working at Beacon View?

Megan: The best thing about working at Beacon view is being able to come to work every day being part of a driven and friendly team of people, all striving for the same thing – excellence in veterinary care. We’re always looking at, reviewing and finding ways in which we can continually develop our services to ensure we deliver the best care we possibly can. We are also very fortunate to have such wonderful clients who entrust us in the care of their pets. 

Emma: The amazing team and clients! I am always gaining new experiences from the CPD that we do. We also now offer laparoscopic keyhole surgery which I’m very interested in!

Claire: Having a good team and a nice practice.

Gemma: Beacon View is a wonderful team of like-minded and very supportive people, working so hard together to achieve excellent patient and owner care. We treat all animals as if they were our own. We laugh a lot but also have sad times too, but we always have each other to help us though. Nothing is too much trouble and everyone goes above and beyond.

Have a question?

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