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20 Survival Tips for Every Veterinary Nurse and Tech: Part 1

Posted in Our Community @ May 20th 2021 - By Melissa Giles, Vet Nurse Diary
20 Survival Tips For Every Veterinary Nurse Tech Part 1

Whether you're a student or a qualified veterinary nurse, these tips apply and I use most of them every day!

I could definitely list more than 20 tips but these are a good start. 

1. Starting a new job? Be prepared!

Write down a list of questions you may have, write down the name of your workplace supervisor and take notes of any important instructions given to you during your Induction or Orientation period.

2. Always have a pocket notebook with you

Write down any important drug doses, calculations, fluid rates or product names that you may need to refer to on a regular basis. Think of this as your student cheat sheet!

3. Always have a spare set of clothing

This includes a spare pair of shoes, socks, and underwear! Yes, I have been soaked through by chocolate vomit….be prepared!

4. Never forget about teamwork

Always remember that we all have a common goal. Whether you are qualified or a student nurse; at the end of the day, we all want to be able to end our shifts knowing we have completed all our jobs, taken care of all our patients and most of all taken care of each other. Even if it’s not your ‘job’…. help whenever, wherever you can!

5. Your job involves dealing with clients – get good at it!

Some nurses get into veterinary medicine thinking they can avoid interacting with clients, but I’m afraid they’re a little more difficult to avoid than you think and you’re going to have to interact with them on a daily basis. You’re also probably going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations with them. Don’t avoid it. Listen to how your colleagues handle different situations and learn from them. There are also some great short courses and workshops out there to help if needed.

6. Ask all the questions

Don’t ever feel bad for ‘asking too many questions’. There are better times than others to ask these questions so be sure to time them appropriately, but always ask them!  Questions can show that you are interested and want to be involved in your own learning and as trainers, we LOVE to teach those who are interested in listening and learning.

7. Not every day is going to be a good day

I’m not going to lie; some days are going to suck. There are days where equipment just won’t work properly, or you run out of drugs/medications. Days when it feels like every client is yelling at you for something out of your control or you’re assisting with euthanasia and you just can’t catch a break. Some days your team might not feel like a team at all. We all have bad days but always aim to re-group at the end of each shift and try to have a better day tomorrow! 

8. Own your mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes. We are human after all and it in inevitable that minor or major, you will likely make a mistake in your student career and beyond. Take ownership of those mistakes and treat every single one of them like the learning experiences they are.

9. You will never be expected to get used to euthanasia

I occasionally have students ask me how I’ve managed to ‘get used’ to assisting with euthanasia’s. My answer is that I haven’t and I will never expect too either. Every single one of them still affects me on a deep, personal level. Sometimes I’m just better at managing those emotions than others, so it looks like I have myself together. We often have to be the strong ones for our clients in their weakest moments, but that doesn’t mean we care any less.

10. The ‘Closed’ sign on the door doesn’t always matter

Vets and vet nurses work long hours. That is one certainty in this line of work. Remember that just because it says on your hospital door or your website that you close at 6pm, doesn’t always mean that’s when you get to go home. Pets don’t wait to get sick or injured during our opening hours so when required, you may need to stay back and assist your team. In saying that, if you are routinely being requested to stay back, ensure you are added to a rotating roster to ensure you are also getting the rest you deserve and the time to re-boot!

Coming up next... 20 Survival Tips for Every Veterinary Nurse and Tech: Part 2

If you have any questions of comments about these survival tips, ask Mel in the comments section below

About Mel

Mel was born in South Africa and always knew she needed to work with animals one day. She volunteered at a local Vet clinic as soon as she was able and fell even more in love with the profession. 

When she was 16 her family moved halfway across the world to Australia where she completed her schooling and immediately (2 weeks after her final exams) signed on to a clinic as a trainee Vet Nurse and began her nursing studies!

She hasn't stopped learning since and is incredibly excited by the future of Vet Nursing and all the things she has yet to learn and share! 

Follow Mel on Instagram by clicking HERE: vetnursediary_mel



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