What do veterinary nurses do?

Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs), like human nurses are highly skilled professionals in their own right. RVNs work alongside Veterinary Surgeons to provide the highest standard of care and treatment for your pet. This treatment includes skilled supportive care for sick and injured animals, nursing clinics, monitoring anaesthetics, assisting with operations, performing minor surgery, providing medical treatments and carrying out diagnostic tests under veterinary supervision. RVNs also play a very important role in the education of pet owners.

Animals and their caring owners are wonderful to work with and are a huge part of the job. However, some people think that veterinary nursing is all about cuddling fluffy animals while the vet examines them, but it isn’t always that glamorous! RVNs work very hard caring for pets which includes dealing with poo, wee, snot, vomit, blood, body organs, parasites, nasty smells and the occasional challenging patient or owner. Veterinary nursing can be an extremely emotional and physically demanding job, but all of our nurses agree that it is also an extremely rewarding one.

A Veterinary Nurse’s daily tasks may include

  • Skilled supportive care for sick and injured animals
  • Ensuring that patients receive appropriate care
  • Monitoring vital signs, such as temperature, heart rate, pulse and breathing rate
  • Holding and calming animals while a vet examines and treats them
  • Post operative care
  • Monitoring and maintaining anaesthetics, to ensure your pet is safe and pain-free during the operation
  • “Scrubbing in” and assisting vets with operations
  • Performing minor surgery
  • Providing medical treatments
  • Administering medication in the form of tablets, liquids, injections or topical treatments
  • Taking blood samples
  • Administering intravenous fluids
  • Wound management and changing dressings
  • Taking X-rays
  • Recording ECGs
  • Assisting vets to perform diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound and endoscopy
  • Carrying out diagnostic tests (urine tests, blood tests, faecal tests, examining samples under a microscope etc)
  • Maintaining and sterilising equipment and instruments
  • Cleaning up after the patients (and the vets!)
  • Keeping the surgery clean and tidy
  • Looking after the needs of and advising the pet owner

RVNs play a very important role in the education of owners with regard to good standards of patient care during their nursing consultations, over the phone or via blogs and articles such as this one. We can support owners by providing advice and guidance on all aspects of animal care and by offering nursing clinics for services such as

General advice on things such as health, growth, training, nutrition, aging, behaviour, housing and husbandry, weight management and dental care.

  • Nail clipping
  • Emptying Anal glands
  • Microchipping
  • Diabetic monitoring
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Post operative checks and suture removals
  • Wound management and bandage changes
  • Taking blood samples
  • Giving medications
  • Clipping out mats

At Castle Vets we don’t rely on support staff to perform nursing roles. All of the nursing care for your pets is performed by qualified veterinary nurses or student nurses under strict supervision as part of their training.

Veterinary Nurse Training

Training to become an RVN is intensive and takes between two and three years to complete; a large proportion of this time is spent gaining clinical experience by working in practice, with the rest spent attending college, completing assessments and coursework, many hours of personal study and, of course, passing the theory and practical examinations. Visit our blog for more information on the training involved.

Registered Veterinary Nurses

Once qualified RVNs must maintain their place on the Registered Veterinary Nurse register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), attend courses and lectures as part of their Continued Professional Development, in order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and adhere to the professional code of conduct for veterinary nurses.

Many VNs go on to specialise in particular areas of animal care and at Castle Vets we are lucky enough to have qualified VNs with specialist interests in dermatology (skin problems), surgical nursing, rabbit care, canine and feline nutrition, diabetes, animal behaviour and exotic pet nursing.

Want More Information?

Browse our blog for more detailed information and to learn about what skills are required to be a RVN as well as the training involved and your expected salary.

For more information about training to become a veterinary nurse and what qualifications you will need please visit the British Veterinary Nursing Association website

For information on training practices and colleges please visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons website