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Veterinary nurses work alongside veterinary surgeons to provide extra supportive care and treatment to animals, usually in a veterinary practice. Veterinary nurses will provide the typical nursing care for sick and injured animals before, during and after surgery or treatment. They are there to make animals as comfortable and calm as possible, and also to educate owners on good standards of animal care.
There are about 9,000 registered veterinary nurses in Britain (RCVS), with about 64% employed full-time. It is a skilled profession that requires specific qualifications and hard work. Not all veterinary nurses will be involved in surgeries, but may be required to assist where necessary.
Tasks will vary between different surgeries and practices, but there are certain tasks that are likely to make up the majority of a veterinary nurse’s day. These include:
Veterinary nurses are not only required in normal veterinary practices and hospitals but in wildlife parks, equestrian centres or research centres. Some nurses choose to specialise in equine veterinary science, whilst others may work with small or exotic animals. Veterinary nurses may sometimes be required to double up their duties, perhaps working in reception or dealing with administration. Some nurses may run their own specialist clinics, such as weight clinics, worming and flea treatments and dental services.
Veterinary nurses aim to provide constant and suitable care and attention to animals, both pre- and post-operation. This requires their patience, dedication and the ability to deal with unpleasant tasks and emotional situations. This sometimes means working long and anti-social shifts, but the profession offers variety and constant interaction with animals.
In a veterinary practice, the care and welfare of the animal is important, but so is that of the owner. Good people skills and a friendly, calming nature are very important.