If playing Florence Nightingale to animals sounds like a dream then a career in veterinary nursing is likely to be a suitable choice for you. And don’t fall into the trap of being fooled by the stereotypes often associated with the term ‘nursing’ – you could make a brilliant veterinary nurse regardless of whether you are male or female!
Is it right for you?
Although an inherent love of animals is important for a career in veterinary nursing you must also consider how you would cope emotionally when seeing the animals within your care in pain, or perhaps not surviving the treatment they receive. In addition you must consider how you would cope at breaking such bad news to an owner about their pet for example. The job is not all playing with fluffy pups and kittens and you must take some time to evaluate whether you could manage the tougher situations on a daily basis.
Practically speaking, a gentle but firm manner would be necessary in order to handle animals that may need injections or medication and you need to be comfortable with controlling animals that may struggle and be difficult to calm.
Academically an interest in the Sciences, especially Biology will fare you well when learning relevant course content about the animals that you will be caring for. Further you will also need basic administrative skills and computer literacy to assist with the smooth running of any veterinary practice.
What will you learn?
As a veterinary nurse you will provide medical care for the animals as well as surgical nursing care. Although your typical visitors to the vet will include domestic pets such as cats, dogs and rabbits – you should be prepared for and will learn about dealing with more unusual pets such as horses or snakes. As part of your course you will learn the primary nursing duties that will be required of you in the work place e.g. keeping animals calm, administering injections and medications, taking blood/urine samples and X-rays – as well as animal contactless duties such as sterilising instruments for surgery, handing instruments to the vet during surgery, booking in appointments, keeping records, stock replenishment of drugs and equipment and dealing with payments.
Once you have completed your course, your qualifications in veterinary nursing will leave you with the flexibility of working full time or part time, a variety of weekdays and weekends, or to even temp at a variety of different surgeries as and when they may require extra staff (during peak holiday seasons for example). You are not confined to working in veterinary practices as you could also choose to work in veterinary hospitals, animal welfare associations, zoos or even research projects. Lastly, if you start to feel an itch to travel, your British Veterinary qualifications will be recognised and accepted in almost every country you visit abroad, leaving you free to spread your wings.
Fun animal facts
- A cat cannot move its jaw side to side, only up and down.
- Greyhounds can run up to 45 miles per hour.
- Rabbits can mate when they are just three months old.
- A cat can see six times better than humans.
- A group of owls is called a parliament.
- Horses and cows sleep while standing up, they lock the muscles in their legs so they do not fall over.
- Obesity is the number one health problem among dogs.
- Rabbits can be litter trained just like cats.
- Cats that are born with six or seven extra front and back toes are called 'polydacti'.
- Rabbits can see behind them without turning their heads, but have a blind spot in front of their face.
- There are 701 pure dog breeds in the world.
- Newfoundland dogs have webbed feet, to help them swim.
- If not neutered, a female dog, her mate and their offspring could produce 66,000 dogs in six years.
- Rats breed so quickly that in just 18 months, two rats could have created over one million relatives.
- Even when a snake has its eyes closed, it can still see through its eyelids.
- Unlike humans, sheep have four stomachs, each one helps them digest the food they eat.
- Cats use their whiskers to check whether a space is too small for them to fit through or not.
By Telsha Arora