In Summary - Veterinary Nurse
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The Work - Veterinary Nurse
Veterinary nurses assist veterinary surgeons by undertaking duties such as developing X-rays and dressing wounds. Before an operation, the nurse prepares the operating theatre, sterilises instruments and surgically prepares the animal. During an operation, the nurse may assist the surgeon and monitor anaesthesia. Post-operative care is also the nurse's responsibility.
- preparing for and assisting with procedures
- assisting with restraint, handling and treatment of animals
- dressing wounds
- advising clients about husbandry
- administering medicine
- kennel and stable management
- dispensing and stock control
- radiographic assistance
- general reception work
- care and maintenance of instruments, equipment and premises
- laboratory tests on samples
Few veterinary practices employ full-time receptionists, so the nurse may make appointments, answer the telephone, and update and file records of treatment and progress. This aspect of the work brings the nurse into contact with anxious clients who may need reassurance.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Hold or restrain animals during veterinary procedures.
- Clean and maintain kennels, animal holding areas, examination or operating rooms, or animal loading or unloading facilities to control the spread of disease.
- Fill medication prescriptions.
- Assist veterinarians in examining animals to determine the nature of illnesses or injuries.
- Monitor animals recovering from surgery and notify veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
- Clean, maintain, and sterilize instruments or equipment.
- Examine animals to detect behavioral changes or clinical symptoms that could indicate illness or injury.
- Educate or advise clients on animal health care, nutrition, or behavior problems.
- Administer medication, immunizations, or blood plasma to animals as prescribed by veterinarians.
- Collect laboratory specimens, such as blood, urine, or feces for testing.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Interests - Veterinary Nurse
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.
Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
As a veterinary nurse you must have a real concern for the welfare of animals. You must not be squeamish as you may have to work in the presence of blood and excrement. You also need good communication skills and the ability to be sympathetic and understanding toward clients.
You must have an objective attitude to animal welfare - sometimes you will assist the vet to euthanasia (put to sleep) an animal to prevent suffering.
Entry Requirements - Veterinary Nurse
A degree in Veterinary nursing from a recognised college is required for registration with the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI). Only Registered Veterinary Nurses are permitted to call themselves Veterinary Nurses, and may use ‘RVN’ after their name.
In 2014, the total number of registered Veterinary Nurses was 667, 92% of whom are female (642). 128 Veterinary Nurses joined the register in 2014 - 91 of these were new graduates:
- 33 from UCD - see DN310 4-Year level 8 course available
- 18 from Dundalk IT - see DK784 - 3-year level 7 course available
- 17 from Athlone IT - see AL731 - 3-year level 7 course available
- 14 from St. John's Central College of Futher Education & Training - Level 5 & Level 6 advanced FE courses available
- 9 from Letterkenny IT - see LY847 - 3-year level 7 course available
All of the above are recognised training programmes.
Veterinary Care Assistant training programmes are also available at Level 5. Students who successfully complete these course can potentially gain entry to Veterinary Nursing programmes through the Higher Education links Scheme.
Last Updated: January, 2016
Pay & Salary - Veterinary Nurse
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 15k - 31k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Veterinary Nurse
Employment figures for this occupation are too small to report and derive any analysis.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - Veterinary Nurse
Irish Veterinary Nursing Association
British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA)
Veterinary Council of Ireland