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What’s that on your scrub top?

Living with a Veterinary nurse certainly leads to some interesting conversations. The first week of living together consisted of me asking; how many puppies did you cuddle today? How many noses did you ‘boop’? Can you bring the cute one’s home? I’m still waiting on that last one. I, like many, had this romantic vision of what this industry was about. Vets do the messy jobs, nurses do the cuddling.

By week 2 of questioning, it’s clear that my perspective (and knowledge) had somewhat evolved; did the bulldog with the brachycephalic syndrome have successful surgery on his stenotic nares? Did the German shepherd with parvo pull through? You’ve been down since that dog passed away in your arms yesterday, have you had any sleep? I’m worried about you.

I can confidently say that VNs struggle to switch off after a long day on their feet at the practice. Working in the veterinary industry requires a mix of personal traits that aren’t as important in the majority of other careers;

Patience - Vet nurses are exposed to all sorts of furry creatures, all with different characteristics, temperaments and habits, both good and bad. The same can be said for owners, usually without the fur. Frustration, amongst other emotions, is something that they have learned to deal with but this does take its toll. Being there for my VN to vent frustrations/worries is part of the daily ritual that helps her prepare for the next day.  

Resilience/Fortitude - The ability to stay focused on the task at hand under varying degrees of pressure is something that many people struggle with. In an emergency, the pressure in the practice can become unbearable. Tea left cold, lids on lunches and legs crossed. Another day without a break, another late finish, another lost patient. There are often evenings I barely see my VN because she is exhausted and drained, all for the cause.

Compassion – Vet nurses love all of your fur babies, even the ones who bite, scratch, vomit, poop and otherwise act up in this unfamiliar and intimidating place. My VN always talks so joyfully of puppies being born, friendly or somewhat unhinged animals and successful operations that saved lives. She also lets her emotions show when things haven’t gone so well. It’s because veterinary nurses care about each and every animal and owner that comes in through those practice doors.

There are 2 two sides to the Veterinary nurse coin. Most only see what happens at the head, not what happens down at the tail. This brings us not so neatly to the heading of this article. In reality, I don’t need to ask anymore. I’ve come to recognise the various markings. It’s probably anal glands…she can do her own washing tonight.

About the author

Anthony Duggan

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We care for your pets and farm animals providing the best quality service possible. At The Oak Vets, we deal with emergencies, preventative healthcare, and everything in-between.