• Celebrating VNAM - Day in the Life of Rebecca Cox

To celebrate Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month (VNAM), Rebecca Cox, one of our fantastic RVNs (Registered Veterinary Nurse) takes us through 'a day in the life of' an RVN at West Midlands Veterinary Referrals...

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7.30 am
The day starts! A comprehensive handover from our lovely night staff is the first job of the day. This allows time for our night team to talk us through our inpatients, passing on vital information on how they have been through the night, any medication that is needed and a plan for the day ahead.

8.00 am
Our patients begin to arrive from 8.00 am onwards. As RVNs we aim to get our first patient into theatre as soon as possible, setting the day rolling.

Our ‘Prep’ nurses prepare our patients ready for theatre.
We start by giving our patients a thorough health check, known as a TPR - Temperature, Pulse, Respiration. And also, a little love and a few cuddles whilst we’re at it! We then place an Intravenous cannula so that we can easily administer drugs to our patients.
Once clinical history has been read through, and a blood sample has been run to rule out any issues, our patients are ready to be anaesthetised. We administer, carefully, a concoction of drugs called a pre/med into the patient’s IV line. These drugs allow the patient to relax and become sleepy ready for the Veterinary Surgeon to induce Anaesthesia.

As RVNs on prep we work in teams of two, one will prep the patient and the other will monitor the anaesthetic. Some of our RVNs, myself included, have studied for further certificates in anaesthesia. This qualification enables us to have more understanding and knowledge and to support our colleagues with more challenging anaesthetics. During any anaesthetic we monitor our patients closely with the help of multi-parameter machines, these enable us to monitor important parameters such as ECG, Capnography, Blood Pressure, Oxygen Saturation and Temperature.

Once induced, our patients are moved into our X-ray suite where we take images for the Veterinary Surgeon to assess prior to surgery. RVNs have to learn all of the different X-ray positioning for their practical exams, and our nurses here at West Midlands Veterinary Referrals use this practical knowledge daily.
Once imaging is done our patients move back through to the prep room where we surgically prepare them by clipping and cleaning the surgical site with special surgical scrub. They are now transferred into the theatre and handed over to our theatre RVN, ready for surgery.

And Repeat. Until the last patient is in the theatre.

10.00 am
At around 10:00 am we expect our first patients to be out of theatre and ready to go back to kennels. In our  Kennels at Burton-Upon-Trent, we have a team of three RVNs, plus Auxiliary nurses, whose job it is to care for our patients in recovery. Monitoring them closely, our RVNs check Heart Rate, Respiration, Oxygen Sats, Temperature, and Blood Pressure to name a few. These checks are performed at regular intervals throughout the day, and night, until the patient is ready to be discharged.

Throughout the day our RVNs, alongside their checks on recovering patients, also look after any inpatients from the previous day/s. This includes medicating, walking, feeding, 4 hourly TPRs, and of course lots of cuddles!!!

Between 12.00-3.00 pm
We get a much-needed dinner hour. Many of us have our own pooches that come to work too, so our dinner hour is a time to get a bit of fresh air and stretch our legs – all 6 of them!!!

4.00 pm onwards
By 4/5.00pm, our last patient is normally out of the theatre and the big cleanup can begin. Our job as RVNs involves a fair bit of cleaning, keeping the clinical environment clean and aseptic. Our prep room, Xray suite and 3 theatres are all stripped down and cleaned thoroughly at the end of each day using a medical disinfectant and all equipment is checked, cleaned and put away ready for the next day.

5.00-7.00 pm
Between 5.00 and 7.00 pm is when our patients are discharged to go home. Kennel RVNs and any other available RVNs work continuously in this time, taking out IV lines, putting up medication, making sure patients are clean, and pain scoring and administering analgesia before they go home. Whilst our Auxiliary cleans out empty kennels, wash bedding and bowls, and prepare kennels ready for the following morning.  

7.00 pm
Our lovely night team arrive, and we can give a comprehensive handover of any inpatients. This includes who they are, what procedure they have had done, their pain score and any medication that is due, to include a plan of action for the coming 12 hours.

7.30 pm
The end of a day, and time for home!