Veterinary nursing: a job that makes a difference

I started my veterinary nursing career at a relatively late when compared with most nurses. In 2006 at 31 years of age, I decided that I wanted a career that would make a difference. I thought being a human nurse would be the way to go. My partner said, “Don’t be a nurse, be a vet nurse.” This was a career that, until then, I had not even thought about. This was the turning point.

I engaged in a part-time course and while I didn’t quite mesh with my tutors, I excelled in my theoretical studies. Unbeknown to me, my tutors were, quite simply, worried about my practical success. Until I began workplace training. I arrived for my lesson for the evening and came out of my silent shell as I explained the joy of being a part of my first caesarean. My tutors later explained their concerns and that those concerns were put into the past when they saw my passion after this experience. I then launched into being the best nurse I could be.

Six years on, I cannot look back. Every single day is a learning experience and no day is the same. Needless to say my own pets were my guinea pigs during my training and they deserve a medal for the rigours I put them through. They were very tolerant and forgiving, with the help of numerous treats.

My passion for animal care is non-negotiable. This goes without saying, but along with the ups there are the downs and there certainly is a skill to managing the emotional roller coaster that comes with vet nursing. There’s the absolute joy of running puppy pre-school and seeing the uncoordinated fumbling chaos and incompliant cuteness of the first week become the semi-controlled pups showing off their new skills, even if a food lure is needed, in the last week. Then there’s the worry of seeing a pet struggle through illness and the relief when it comes out on the other side, ferociously happy and with an appetite for destruction. There’s also the unfortunate task of euthanasia. Although humane it does hurt to take away a life that has brought so many delightful memories and provided such companionship. My very first euthanasia was more than heart-wrenching, and although I did not know the owners personally, the desperate anguish in their tears drove me home to cry myself to sleep that night. Although now my emotions are contained at these times, my thoughts always draw back to the owners and their feelings of loss. Continue reading Veterinary nursing: a job that makes a difference

Essay: Veterinary practice 101

Veterinary Practice 101

There can surely be few more stressful episodes in a veterinary career than day one, first case.
In the thousands of alternative scenarios I had conjured up whilst lying in my little cot at the veterinary school not one was even remotely like the way my first case actually turned out…

Driving into the Thompson’s dairy farm there were no grateful, smiling farmers waving with relief, no music, no flags, just an uncaring laneway leading in. My dreams had lacked the hollow, empty sense of dread that fear and an overwhelming sensation of loneliness injected into that moment. I contemplated turning back at this point to tell my bosses that I had developed some incapacitating disease such as, say, malaria, and needed to start again some other day – any day – just not now. Instead, I drove in. Continue reading Essay: Veterinary practice 101

AVBA essay: Managing stress

It’s been one of those days… a morning filled with surgical cases then an afternoon crammed with consultations and as the day draws to a close there’s that difficult client who has you cornered. Over 20 years working in practice I witnessed many instances of stressed out vets and nurses, physically tired and emotionally overdrawn, leaving work for the day with nothing “left in the tank”.

Sound familiar? A high level of stress within caring professions almost appears to have become the norm. Study after study has shown that stress raises our risk of cancer, heart disease, allergies and susceptibility to colds and flu. New research has revealed that when our systems are constantly bathed in cortisol the body loses its ability to regulate inflammation.

Take charge! Stress management begins with identifying the sources of stress in your life. I agree, it isn’t as easy as it sounds but look closely at your habits and attitudes. Try to identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Take the same approach you would with a patient – detail the symptoms and construct a treatment plan. Consider how you cope with stress in your life. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy? You could be unknowingly sabotaging yourself and compounding the problem. Continue reading AVBA essay: Managing stress

Essay: Time to stop discounting?

Why do veterinarians persist in discounting surgical sterilisation of dogs and cats? This practice is so entrenched that I doubt anyone stops to consider why we do it.

I can think of three possible reasons for discounting surgical sterilisation of dogs and cats:

  • Every other clinic does;
  • It’s a “loss leader”; and
  • It’s a community service to help reduce the number of unwanted companion animals.

The only valid reason, in my opinion, is the last one – it’s a community service. Unfortunately, the community does not recognise this. Continue reading Essay: Time to stop discounting?