Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Victoria Gregory : Being an Equine RVN

I started working at Rossdales Equine Hospital in 2003 and qualified as an Equine Veterinary Nurse in 2007. In 2010 I took a sabbatical to work at Scone Equine Hospital, Australia, during their foaling season. I enjoy teaching so in 2015 I decided to move to a university hospital so that I could continue to be an equine nurse but teach as well. I spent some time at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire before moving to Scotland to work at Weipers Centre Equine Hospital at the University of Glasgow.
When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time exploring the Scottish countryside with my Springer Spaniel, Jonty.

I grew up with horses and all I wanted to do was work with horses. After leaving school I attended Moulton Agricultural College where I completed a BSc (Hons) in Equine and Estate Studies. It was during my time there that I saw a job advertised for an equine veterinary nurse and decided that that was the career for me. When leaving college I sent my CV to several equine practices enquiring about trainee nursing positions. During the summer I took a temporary position at an equine rehabilitation centre to enhance my CV.

I was lucky enough to get a job as a trainee nurse at Rossdales Equine Hospital, which was already an established training practice. After a year of working as a theatre assistant I was enrolled on the Equine Nursing course which was then an NVQ level 2 & 3. I went to college one day a week for two years and completed a portfolio at work to show that my clinical skills were up to standard. I had to sit multiple choice question exams at the end of year 1 and 2 as well as practical exams at the end of year 2.

The role as an equine veterinary nurse can vary greatly between practices, some giving nurses more responsibility than others. No day is ever the same, you can set a basic daily routine but this can be disrupted by emergencies and patient compliance! The basic daily routine where I work is:
8.30 – start. The students have started the morning checks and treatments, nurses assist with this when necessary. If there is a surgery booked in, the nurse guides the students through catheter placement, administering any medications and removing the horse’s shoes.
9.00 – Rounds, each patient is presented by the student in charge of that case.
9.30 – the first surgery is anaesthetised. Any inpatient procedures are started, such as x-rays, re-exams and bandage changes
10.00 – the first outpatient appointments start – the university is close to the city so owners often get stuck in traffic if asked to arrive earlier than this.
Inpatient care and outpatient appointments continue throughout the day until the work is completed. The nurses are on a rolling rota, spending a week with the medicine team, a week with the orthopaedic team and a week on the late shift, helping out wherever. As well as helping with the patients the nurses work as a team to ensure that stock orders are placed, rooms are fully stocked and cleaned, bins are emptied, equipment is in full working order, necessary equipment is clean and sterile for procedures, medications are ready for dispensing with patients that are going home, the bills are up to date for when the owners enquire and the list goes on! Being a teaching hospital the nurses are also responsible for teaching and assessing students for their Direct Observation of Procedural Skills. These include tasks such as x-raying, shoe removal, IV catheter placement and bandaging.

I would describe my job as rewarding. There is nothing better than seeing horses going home, after a stay in hospital, with their owners so happy to have them home again. In the university it is also rewarding to see the student’s progression in the time that they spend with us. The vast majority are not horsey but they are always keen to learn and be involved. It is extremely tough at times when there is nothing more that you can do to help a patient but at least it is possible to end their suffering and know that they had the best possible care until the end. The thing I love most about my job is the horses!

I was extremely proud when I qualified as an equine veterinary nurse; I had worked really hard to get there. My proudest achievement though, is probably being asked to make a DVD for Lantra to promote equine veterinary nursing as a career choice.

For the future I would like to carry on advancing my equine nursing knowledge in order to care for the patients as best as I can. I would also like to continue to be involved in teaching veterinary nursing students and veterinary students.  

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Marie Rippingale : Being an REVN

My name is Marie Rippingale. I have worked in equine veterinary practice since 2003. I qualified as a Registered Equine Veterinary Nurse (REVN) in 2007. I obtained my Advanced Diploma in Equine Veterinary Nursing (DipAVN Equine) in 2013. I work as a senior equine nurse at Scarsdale Vets, and as a lecturer in equine veterinary nursing at Bottle Green Training. I live with my other half who is a small animal vet, and a small 15 year old ginger and white cat called Dougal, who constantly declares that he is hungry, regardless of how much he is fed! I also own a 20 year old Irish Sports Horse called Chaplin. We mainly compete in British Eventing (BE) 80 competitions, and Novice dressage. Chaplin specialises in running away on the cross country course, and spooking at random things in dressage arenas! I also enjoy scuba diving and snowboarding (badly!).

I completed a BSc (Hons) in Equine Sports Science in 2005, and as part of this course, I took a year out to work as an equine nursing assistant at Scarsdale Vets. I enjoyed this year out so much that I went back to work at Scarsdale as soon as I graduated from university. I have always loved horses, and cannot think of any better job than caring for them, and treating them, when they are unwell.

I took the vocational route of training. This involved me working at Scarsdale four days per week, and attending college one day per week. The course lasted two years, and was assessed with exams, a practical portfolio and practical exams (OSCEs). It was a lot of work, and was really challenging both academically and practically. Working full time and training at the same time was hard, but it was totally worth it in the end.

The structure of my day depends on what area I am working on that week (the nurses all rotate      around areas spending 1 week on each). The areas we rotate around are:
Pharmacy (8am-4.30pm): This involves helping with Artificial insemination (AI) mares first thing in the morning. After that we unpack the drugs order, put it away insuring correct stock rotation and update all of the stock records. The rest of the day is usually spent helping out in the hospital or with the inpatients. You will often go out and assist with ambulatory procedures when on this area e.g. radiographs, ultrasound scans and endoscopes. In the afternoon we construct a new drugs order, and an order for the hospital. Due to the reduced contact with inpatients on this area, this nurse is usually nominated to look after the isolation cases when they are admitted.
Hospital (8.30am-5.00pm): This involves helping out with procedures in the hospital e.g. lameness work ups, gastroscopes, radiographs, ultrasound scans, shockwave treatment, general anaesthesia and assisting in theatre. There are usually two nurses on this area and they work together with the hospital vet for that day to get everything done, and make sure it all runs smoothly.
Inpatient care (8.30am-5.00pm): On this shift you check and TPR all of the inpatients and give them their medication. You will consult the case vet for each patient, and obtain a plan for that patient for the rest of the day. We compile and fill out nursing care plans for the critical patients we get at the practice, and fill these in when we are on this area. We also groom the horses and pick their feet out. This is good for their general health and well-being, as well as supplying them with some much needed TLC – happy horses heal faster! When working on this area, you will also prepare the horses for general anaesthesia, including intravenous (IV) catheter placement, clipping, mouth washing and giving pre-anaesthetic medications.
Although it says here that we should finish at 5pm, we all know that horses do not just get sick during working hours, so if a patient needs care after this time, one of us will often stay behind to help. We also work on a weekend on call rota.

I find my job challenging, fascinating, exciting and rewarding. I really love seeing our longstanding patients, either for a re-examination, or when they come in for a vaccination. It is so nice to see them looking well in themselves and enjoying life. You build up a rapport with the client too which is really nice. I also really love it when inpatients start to improve and look better.

My proudest achievement as an equine veterinary nurse was volunteering for the BEVA Trust to go out to the Gambia in West Africa to work at The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT). I have taken two trips so far, one in 2015, and one in December 2017. These trips were challenging and fascinating all at the same time. I was delighted to find that I could actually help out there, but I learned an enormous amount in return. I have an limitless amount of respect for the staff at GHDT for the amazing job they do out there. I am very proud to have met and worked with them.

My ambitions for the future are to continue to develop my skills and knowledge, and pass these on through teaching. I will also continue to raise awareness of equine nursing within the veterinary industry, and with the public also. I would like to see better recognition for veterinary nursing as a profession overall. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

George Hunt : Being an Equine RVN

My name is George Hunt and I work at Pool House Equine Clinic in Staffordshire. I qualified as a small animal RVN in 1998 and then as an Equine RVN IN 2014.  When I am not at work I am busy looking after my two young children. I also ride regularly and am keen on equine behaviour.

During my training as a small animal nurse I worked in a busy mixed practice and was one of the few nurses who were happy to go out on large animal calls!! It was during this time that I developed an interest in equine nursing.

I decided very early on in school that I wanted to become a veterinary nurse and have never wanted to do anything else!!  I have now been nursing for over 25years and  still love my job.

A typical day for us starts with doing inpatient rounds along with the interns and surgeons. At this point we discuss daily treatment plans, case progression and discharge recommendations.  This will be followed by preparing any patients for surgical procedures both standing and general anaesthesia. We also run in house laboratory tests, assist with gastroscopy, as well as ensure all equipment and instruments are maintained and of course last but not least lots of cleaning up.  We have a 24hour emergency service so theatre is always left set up ready for colic surgery as this is our most common surgical emergency.  During the summer months we often have sick foals in need of nursing too!

No two days are the same which means we have to be flexible and always prepared for the next case as horses are very good at getting themselves into mischief!!  It can be stressful but also very rewarding!

The part I love most about my job is when emergency or critical patients recover and go home! This the most rewarding feeling knowing we have made a difference!

My proudest achievement has been obtaining my equine nursing top up qualification after not studying for a very long time and having two small children to take care of!!

The number of equine nurses is currently small compared to their small animal counterparts and so my ambition for the future would be to continue to support the growth of the equine nursing profession through training of new nurses and promoting our skills. As equine nurses our skills make a positive difference to the care of horses. TLC has been proven to improve welfare and outcome of hospitalised patients.

I am also keen on promoting more sympathetic and positive training in the horse to allow for better welfare through behavioural knowledge. This is so important not only for the welfare of the horses but also the safety of staff when dealing with difficult patients.