A veterinary nurse, sometimes referred to as a technician, assists a veterinarian in providing medical treatment to animals. This could be by helping with an examination or preparing a pet for surgery. The assistant may sometimes conduct routine tests or laboratory work. In some cases, the nurse may perform administrative duties, such as updating medical charts or entering billing information in a database. Other times, the job may require providing basic care for animals who are being hospitalized.
When a pet owner brings an animal to a veterinary clinic, a veterinary nurse is often one of the first people seen. Before the veterinarian talks to the owner, the nurse may take the animal's weight and temperature. This information, along with changes in the pet's health or recent medical concerns, is then recorded for the doctor to review. After the visit is complete, the technician normally updates the pet's record with the diagnosis and recommended treatment plan.
During the examination, the veterinary nurse may assist the doctor by holding the animal still or muzzling if need be. The nurse may also help bandage wounds and apply topical ointments. In some cases, this assistant may fill syringes and administer vaccinations to animals.
One of the major responsibilities of a veterinary nurse is caring for animals before, during, and after surgery. This may involve shaving a pet's fur or checking the heart rate prior to the operation. During surgery, she might assist the veterinarian by handing the doctor surgical instruments. After the procedure is completed, she may observe the animal to make sure there are no complications.
When a pet is hospitalized, the veterinary nurse is normally responsible for the animal's care. This can include providing food, water, and medicine. It could also encompass walking dogs, changing litter pans, or cleaning fecal matter from cages.
Veterinarians may request certain tests or procedures for their patients. A veterinary nurse often performs tasks such as checking for worms or looking in an animal's ears to check for ear mites. In some cases, a nurse might also draw blood samples and test them for heartworm, anemia, or other conditions.
The educational requirements for a veterinary nurse vary from one country to the next, but are generally anywhere from two to four years of college. Many people also complete an internship with a veterinarian before being employed in this capacity. Both education and completing an internship can lead to a rewarding career helping both pet owners and their pets.