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.