A day in the life of a veterinary nurse

Although there are usually no two days that are the same, I thought I’d write an article about a typical day for a veterinarian nurse at work in a veterinary practice.

This is to celebrate the figure of the veterinary nurse and enhance its vital role in the daily routine of vet practice.

In England, since 2005, the month of awareness has been established for the importance of the work that veterinary nurses do.

The veterinary nurse awareness month takes place every May and is organized by the British Veterinary Nurse Association (BVNA).

Let’s find out now how it is a day in the life of a veterinary nurse.

07:30 am: Arrival at the practice

Information briefing with the night shift nurse for an update on patients admitted the day before and during the night.

Depending on the size of the veterinary clinic or hospital, this task will be more or less intense.

08:00: Treatment of patients who spent the night in the practice

He accompanies the canine patients for their morning walk on the grass.

This allows them to stretch their legs and take in the fresh air.

Sometimes it is necessary that patients after a very serious operation spend the night in a cage and in an environment where they can be easily controlled and are far from dangers. Others also have to spend the night in absolute rest.

After walking, temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and weight are checked. These measures are noted on their medical records.

A consultation with the veterinary surgeon follows, to update him on the patients and how the night went.

If allowed, patients will then be given a carefully formulated meal to aid recovery.

09:00: Admission of patients

The patient is usually admitted by the nurses if the intervention is routine, or by the veterinarian if the intervention is especially delicate.

Preparation of patients for surgery.

This consists of: a first physical examination by the veterinarian (anamnesis), taking a blood sample, inserting an intravenous catheter, measuring temperature, respiratory and heart rate.

Soon after, the so-called pre-medication is administered to relax the patient and prepare him for anaesthesia.

The veterinary nurse prepares the doses of the treatments to be administered and deals entirely with patient care.

Once all patients have been admitted, the veterinarian and nurse make a surgical plan to determine an order in which the surgical procedures will be implemented.

9:30 am: Anesthesia monitoring

A fundamental part of the role of the veterinary nurse is to assist the veterinarian during surgery. This activity is generally done in turns, but depending on the team, you can choose to divide the shifts differently. A normal day in the life of a veterinarian assistant may be focusing on laboratory tests, rather than consultations or other responsibilities.

The nurse in charge of the surgical room will help the veterinarian to anaesthetize the patient and then monitor the patient throughout the procedure.

A wide range of monitoring equipment is used, in addition to your senses, to observe the patient’s heart rate, respiratory rate, the color of the mucous membranes and temperature.

Based on all these parameters, the anaesthesia levels are adjusted accordingly.

11:30 am: Post-operative

Once the patient is out of the surgical room, the hospital nurse takes care of them on a nice warm bed in the recovery area. All vital signs are checked during awakening. It is important to always check that the temperature does not drop too low and that the beat is always regular and increasing.

In general, an hour after the end of a routine operation, water and food are administered.

01:00: Sterilization of environments and instruments

Surgical procedures are usually done in the morning as they generally have a priority. In addition, patients have plenty of time to recover strength under the supervision of a qualified person such as a veterinary assistant.

After all the surgical procedures have been completed, it is time to clean and prepare the surgical instruments and surgical rooms for any afternoon procedures, as well as of course any emergencies.

He then takes care of sterilizing the surgeon’s tools, gown and drapes and storing them neatly.

03:30: Discharging

It is time for the patients to go home.

The veterinary assistant receives the owner for the discharge appointment. The discharge appointment serves as an update on how the operation went and to discuss the post-operative assistance of the patient. The owner is instructed about the therapies to be administered in the days following admission.

Good post-operative home care is essential for good healing!

The veterinary assistant also updates all registers of medications and other therapies used, checks that all machinery is clean and functioning and that the drug is not lacking to induce ‘anaesthesia.

It also deals with checking that all materials such as bandages, needles, blades are at hand for the evening shift nurse and veterinarian.

04:30: Disinfection and shift change

Once the morning patients have been discharged, the assistant disinfects all the cages and workplaces used so far.

In the afternoon, consultations are also carried out with the owners on the nutrition or anti-flea treatment to be implemented.

Assistance to hospitalized patients is a 24-hour job – patients are monitored frequently during the day by the kennel nurse and their progress is recorded on the hospital sheet. Shift change takes place at 17:30. Evening shift assistants will ensure that they know all the details about hospitalized patients. The second shift nurse will then take care of patients in a hospital until 8:00 the next morning. This is another day of work in the life of a veterinary nurse.

In conclusion

The veterinary assistant carries out many tasks within the clinic, including the task of an anesthesiologist, the care of patients and those hospitalized day and night. They also consult with the owners and also assist veterinarians in their consultations if they need it. They also take care of appointments.

In reality, this is only one of the hypothetical working days of a veterinarian’s life and only a small part of all the responsibilities and facets of a nurses’ job.

The veterinary sector is so vast that I could choose exactly how you want your day to go.

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