We all know the purpose of a veterinary practice. Animals go there for medical help when they are sick, hurt or in need of preventative treatments. The skilled professionals working within the clinic can be the difference between our beloved pets having a happy, healthy life and not, so they are undeniably crucial.
Veterinary Surgeons, Vet Nurses and a wider support team of veterinary professionals all make up this function, and while we know the Vet is the one at the helm performing vital surgeries, what Vet Nurses do exactly isn’t entirely clear. If you’re wondering ‘What’s the difference between a Vet and a Vet Nurse?’, you’re not alone.
For anyone asking ‘What does a Veterinary Nurse do?’, keep reading.
What is a Vet Nurse?
Ask anyone in the veterinary clinic and they will tell you the Vet Nurse is the right arm of the Veterinary Surgeon. They are there to support the Surgeon in everything that they do and make sure the procedures at the clinic go smoothly and achieve the outcome required.
Though, rather than always being at the side of the Surgeon awaiting instruction, as a Vet Nurse, you will perform a vast array of tasks that require intuition, quick and critical thinking. You will have the knowledge and level of education that will see you take on independent duties of high responsibility, so the lives of animals are very much in your hands too.
Much of what is involved in Veterinary Nurse jobs will depend on where you work as a Vet Nurse, be it in a general practice, emergency or referral clinic.
In any case, the responsibilities of a Vet Nurse include:
- Carrying out consultations
- Protecting and supporting wounds by applying bandages to injured areas and fractures
- Providing education on nutrition and preventative care to animal caregivers
- Giving out useful behavioural advice and tips
- Dispensing medication and helping caregivers understand how to administer it themselves
- Providing support to the wider team as well as helping in its management
- Maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of the practice
- Triaging and assisting with emergency procedures
- Taking radiographs
When it comes to surgical procedures, as a Vet Nurse you will:
- Support both the animals and their owners' pre and post-operation
- Get animals ready for surgical procedures
- Act as direct support to the Vet in the operating theatre as a Scrubbed Veterinary Nurse
- Administer medications and fluid therapy to animal patients
- Observe and record the patient’s vital signs
What Else Can Vet Nurses Do?
As such a vital pillar of support to the Veterinary Surgeon and wider veterinary team, there’s almost no end to the main duties of a Veterinary Nurse. Though, many people researching what is the role of a Veterinary Nurse tend to have specific questions, which we have answered for you below.
Can Veterinary Nurses Diagnose?
No. As a Vet Nurse, you cannot diagnose the condition of animals, this is the job of the Vet. However, Veterinary Nurses are the ones who typically carry out the diagnostic tests the Vets use to make their diagnoses. As such, in your Vet Nurse job, you will perform blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds on animal patients.
Depending on where you work you could also take samples from animals that you can analyse, this could be anything from lumps to skin lesions.
Can Vet Nurses Give Vaccinations?
Yes, but only in certain circumstances. Many people wonder ‘Can a Vet Nurse give vaccinations?’, this is because the answer depends on the situation. Yes, a Veterinary Nurse can give vaccinations, however, the Vet needs to perform a clinical assessment of the animal first.
Once the Vet has seen the animals and provides the green light for vaccination to take place, a Vet Nurse can give vaccinations under their direction, and any subsequent vaccinations in that course of treatment.
If an animal is coming in for booster vaccinations though, the Vet will need to perform the clinical assessment first on each occasion.
Can a Vet Nurse Place a Peg Tube?
No. Veterinary Nurses in the UK are only permitted to place Naso-Oesophageal (NO) and Naso-Gastric (NG) feeding tubes. They do assist in the placement of all other feeding tubes though.
Can a Vet Nurse Microchip an Animal?
Yes. Vet Nurses can microchip animals but only under the direction of a Vet.
Can a Vet Nurse Sign a Passport?
No. Vertinary Nurses are not included in the government's list of occupations that can countersign passport applications and photos.
Can Veterinary Nurses Euthanize Animals?
Many people wondering ‘What can Veterinary Nurses do?’ consider whether the responsibility of euthanasia falls on their shoulders or the Vet. The answer to this question is ‘yes’ a Veterinary Nurse can perform euthanasia if required, but only under the direction of a Vet.
Take Steps Towards a Veterinary Nursing Career
You can begin to master the role of a Veterinary Nurse by first becoming a Veterinary Nurse Assistant and working alongside these skilled professionals every day. As a rewarding but at times emotionally challenging role, it’s a wise idea to see if you are suited to a career as a Vet Nurse before making the leap into the full educational commitment.
learndirect is the leading UK online course provider, and we have a Level 2 Veterinary Nursing Assistant Diploma that is a perfect stepping stone towards this career. By studying this course, you will become equipped with the knowledge to support Vet Nurses in the provision of both emergency and routine healthcare to animal patients.
Upon completion, you will be qualified to move into a Vet Nurse support role, which is a vital cog in the veterinary team in its own right. You could then choose to either stay working within this supporting role continuously, or make an informed decision on whether taking the next step and completing the full Vet Nurse training is the right move for you.
Why wait any longer? Now you know exactly what Vet Nurses do day-to-day, you can make a move towards this career by providing essential support to qualified Vet Nurses.