The role of a Registered Veterinary Nurse

Have you ever wondered what the role of a Registered Veterinary Nurse is in practice, or been interested in becoming a Registered Veterinary Nurse yourself?

Then please read the information below.

The role of a Veterinary Nurse is extremely varied, with lots of different roles being included under the umbrella of Veterinary Nurse. So what are the different roles that are involved?

Firstly, in order to become a Veterinary Nurse, you must have a true passion and love for animals- whether they have fur or feathers, scales or long tails!

A lot of people believe a Veterinary Nurse’s day consists of cuddling puppies and kittens and although that is part of our role, there is a lot more to being a Veterinary Nurse. Below is an average day to day running of a Veterinary Nurse.

The Veterinary Nurses admit patients that are due to come in for surgery/ hospitalisation. They talk through the procedure that will be performed with the client, answer any questions that the clients may have and go through a consent form which is a legal document which needs to be signed in order for the proposed procedure to go ahead. Often the animals and the owners are nervous so the nurses also provide emotional support to the owners and physical support (cuddles and kisses) to the patients.

The nurses then prepare the patients for surgery. Suitable kennels have to be set up for the animals whilst they are in for the day. This includes making sure they have a comfortable bed to lie on, checking that the animals will be warm enough, providing litter trays to cats and making sure the animals feels as happy as they can.

The theatre nurse works out which medication the patients need for the day and draws up the medications so they are ready to be used, once the drug calculations have been checked by the Veterinary Surgeon.

The nurses then place a catheter in the patient so it is ready for surgery. The purpose of the catheter is so that you have intravenous access to administer medications and fluid if required.

Veterinary nurses are also trained phlebotomists, which mean they can take blood samples.  Often patients have a pre-anaesthetic blood test run before they have surgery. The purpose of this blood test is to check that the animals liver and kidneys are functioning correctly and they have the correct level of red and white blood cells. Blood samples can also be taken within the Veterinary Practice and sent to an external laboratory where they can test for a huge variety of conditions, such as Cushing’s or Addison’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease and even to identify allergies such as allergies to mites, plants or food.

Another important role of being a Veterinary Nurse is being an anaesthetist. It is the Veterinary Nurses job to monitor the anaesthetic and increase or decrease the anaesthetic agent under the instruction of the Veterinary Surgeon. Recordings are taken every five minutes of the patient’s heart rate, respiratory rate, eye position, mucous membrane colour, capillary refill time, blood pressure and oxygen concentration. The patients are also linked up to an ECG machine which gives an electrical reading of the heart’s activity.

During some surgical procedures, it is necessary for the nurse to ‘scrub in’ and assist the surgeon with passing instruments, handling tissues and holding instruments.

Under schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, qualified Veterinary Nurses are allowed to suture wounds and carry out minor surgical procedures such as lumpectomies, provided they do not enter a body cavity.

The nurses are then responsible for monitoring patients post-operatively. They regularly take readings of the patient’s temperature, heart rate and respiration rate and also use a pain score to ensure the patient has had adequate pain relief. They make sure the patient is warm and comfortable and provide them with food and water once they have fully recovered.

As well as the above tasks, nurses apply bandages and dressings to wounds. They also hold nurse consultations, providing education to owners on food/weight management, giving of medications, puppy/kitten training and parasite control.

Here at Mid Sussex Veterinary Clinic, the Veterinary Nurses are also responsible for carrying out all reception tasks. These include booking in appointments, triaging patients via phone calls, providing clients with information on how to administer medication and the dosages if they are being dispensed medication, taking payments, weighing dogs prior to their appointments and of course giving the animals the love and attention they deserve.

All the Registered Veterinary Nurses here at Mid Sussex Veterinary Clinic have their names included on the list of Registered Veterinary Nurses held by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons  and they have taken the follow oath:

“I promise and solemnly declare that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and that above all, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care.”

If you are interested in becoming a Registered Veterinary Nurse please visit the BVNA or RCVS website for more information.