A Day in the Life of a Vet Nurse

Apr 03, 2022

The roles of a veterinary nurse are hugely varied, and nurses wear many hats within a vet clinic. A vet nurse does everything from anaesthetist to receptionist, phlebotomist, professional cuddler, lab technician, nutritionist, surgical assistant, grief counsellor, radiographer, paramedic and pharmacy assistant…. all in one day!

We arrive before the clinic opens to perform a full examination on any hospitalised patients that may have stayed in overnight. This involves a full examination of the pets – checking heart and respiration rate, temperature, checking their pain levels, administering any medications required and providing them with a fresh new comfy bed, with lots of hugs!

Then when the clinic opens to the public it's all guns blazing as the patients start coming through the door. Patients being admitted by the veterinarians for surgery are escorted out the back where either the vets or vet nurses start performing blood tests, placing intravenous catheters, administering any medications including pain relief, antibiotics and sedations. This may vary in different clinics.

Clinics will generally assign nurses on the reception desk for the day and nurses assigned to the treatment area and surgery ward.  

The surgical nurses are busy preparing and working out an anaesthetic schedule and plan for the day. Depending on the clinic, most will perform surgery during the middle of the day. 

Next, we set up, test the anaesthetic equipment, including oxygen testing, refilling anaesthetic agents, gather medications for the procedure and the sterile instruments or miscellaneous equipment the vet will need.

Lots of cuddles and attention are given whilst the veterinarian administers an intravenous anaesthetic induction agent to the patients, as they drift off smoothly to sleep, we keep them snuggly warm and comfortable during their procedure. We constantly monitor how they are doing under the anaesthetic by taking their vital readings and adjusting the anaesthetic accordingly.

On recovery, we stay with the pets and reassure them until they are fully awake and recumbant. Once recovered, we will generally call the pets owner to let them know how the pet is going and book in a discharge time for that afternoon. 

During the day, the nurses help the vet with a variety of tasks: restraining patients, prepare medications, we answer many phone calls, give advice  and educate owners and are there when vets, clients and pets need us. 

Whilst emergency hospitals are generally closed throughout business hours, we act as an emergency hospital throughout the day too. We have to be prepared for ANYTHING to come rushing through the door. It can be exhilarating and challenging, but I tell you what, no two days are ever the same, and that’s usually why vet nurses love this job! 

Of an afternoon the nurses and kennel hands will clean, sterilise and prepare the clinic for the next busy day.

Once all of the surgical patients have been discharged, we set up any hospitalised patients for overnight stays. Ensuring they have fluids set up, a comfortable bed, food and water. 

We then go home to our families and own pets, get a much needed sleep after being on our feet all day and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!

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