After many years of visiting vets’ practices to consult on their management, I don’t think I could possibly overstate the importance of veterinary nurses. I think some view these nurses as a kind of secretarial support to practices, but their expertise can’t be captured in any single job title or discipline.
These professionals are extremely versatile, skilled in greeting customers and delivering that all-important service, and capable of giving technical advice and performing the essential jobs that keep a good practice running. This sheer variety makes the job both richly rewarding and very difficult – not least because these different functions and roles are all carried out simultaneously. Veterinary nurses must be well-trained, utterly committed to their work, experienced in animal health, and always present and available. This is a hugely demanding role.
Nurses are there to assist a veterinary surgeon, providing support when treating an animal. They are there to listen to a client’s requests or concerns after the procedure, and they provide emotional support and ongoing care in the weeks afterwards.
Sensitive, tactful customer service has become even more important in recent years; there has been a clear shift in the status of our pets as owners increasingly take on a more parental role to their pets.
This is also true of farm animals treated at the practice, as today’s precarious financial situation affects farmers’ expectations and pressures.
Nurses may find themselves welcoming pet owners, along with professionals such as farmers and breeders, all with different needs and priorities. The commonality between these vastly different roles and duties – whether it’s cleaning the practice or confidently recommending products and services – is that they’re ultimately driven by a passion for animals. This passion doesn’t just drive these professionals to do the outstanding job they do; it’s also exactly what makes them so indispensable to practices across Europe.
In recent years, there have been calls for greater recognition of vet nurses, exemplified by pressure to professionalise and protect the job title in the UK. I, for one, feel this is much deserved.