May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of the veterinary nursing profession and the vital role they play in animal care and treatment.
Selina Malthouse is Theatre Supervisor at NDSR and she kindly took time out to tell us about life as a vet nurse…
How long have you been a Vet Nurse and what route did you follow to qualify?
I have been working in veterinary practice for 16 years and qualified 12 years ago as a veterinary nurse. My qualification pathway began after undertaking the Animal Nursing Assistant (ANA) course whilst working as a nursing assistant.
This then led me to apply for a training position at a busy 24hr first opinion and referral practice in South London where I studied towards the NVQ Level 3 nursing qualification with the College of Animal Welfare. This meant that I was able to study and attend college whilst also working and gaining practical experience.
What attracted you to a career as a Veterinary Nurse?
Throughout my childhood I always had a love for animals and a keen interest in health and wellbeing. This was fuelled further after undertaking weekend work experience at a local first opinion practice whilst studying for my A-Levels.
I had always wanted a career as a vet (despite my mum always telling me that I would change my mind a hundred times!), and this never faded. I unfortunately missed out on a place at vet school but remained determined that this was what I wanted to do.
After researching career paths within the industry, I decided that veterinary nursing stood out for me and over the course of my year of work experience, I came to realise the importance of the role of a veterinary nurse and how they were a fundamental part of patient care.
I also realised that there were many avenues within the profession including referral nursing, post graduate qualifications and the possibility of specialising areas of interest which really appealed to me.
What does your job as Registered Veterinary Nurse entail?
After being qualified for 3 years, I initially joined NDSR as a general nurse rotating through all disciplines and growing my referral experience. I continued to realise how strong my passion for surgery was and so in 2013 I applied internally for a theatre nursing position within NDSR’s theatre team.
My role as a theatre nurse included the monitoring of anaesthesia, scrubbing into surgery and the preparation of patients for their operating procedures. In 2018 I became theatre supervisor and my job role currently includes the day-to-day management of our operating theatres. This covers both the scheduling and organisation of surgeries as well as the direction of NDSR’s fantastic theatre nursing and nursing assistant team.
Within this role I am also responsible for the repair, maintenance and ordering of surgical consumables, implants and equipment. Running theatre also requires close communication with the supervisors in other departments within NDSR such as for the scheduling of both pre and post-operative diagnostic procedures and patient recovery requirements from our specialised wards nursing team.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a Veterinary Nurse?
By far the most rewarding thing of being a veterinary nurse for me is the satisfaction of being able to provide gold standard nursing care to animals.
Seeing patients entering theatre with complex needs that may often not have had treatment options available, then leave theatre with a positive outcome and knowing that you have been a part of that process and their road to recovery is incredibly satisfying.
What kind of attributes do you need to be a good Veterinary Nurse?
I believe all veterinary nurses are incredibly caring people that simply love animals!
Qualities of veterinary nurses that I have been fortunate enough to have worked amongst and who I aspired to be like had compassion, understanding and an incredible thirst for knowledge and self-development within their role, as well as caring greatly for the animals they looked after and pushing for their best possible outcome. I would also suggest a strong stomach and an ability to work unsociable hours!
What advice would you give someone thinking about a career as a Veterinary Nurse?
I would advise anyone interested in veterinary nursing to research into the profession and the qualification process to firstly get an understanding of the duration and study options that are available.
I would also encourage people to undertake work experience for a firsthand experience of what things are like behind the scenes and if possible, in a number of settings as veterinary nursing roles can vary based on the practice you are working in.
I would recommend researching the different avenues that veterinary nursing can lead to such as post graduate qualifications, referral and managerial roles.
What are the best things about working at NDSR?
The best thing about working at NDSR is the team. Nine years on, I am still inspired on a daily basis by the caliber and knowledge of the people I work with.
I feel privileged to work with such experienced clinicians at the peak of their profession and the wonderful support team of experienced nurses, nursing assistants, receptionists and administrative staff who all care so much, not only for the patients, but for each other. We are like a big unconventional family!
What would be your career highlight so far?
Without a doubt my career highlight would be becoming a theatre supervisor. It was always something that I had said as a young trainee nurse…”one day that’s what I want to be” and I considered it my career goal throughout my time in practice.
I feel very privileged and proud to have been able to achieve this and I am thankful to everyone who both inspired and supported me along the way to reach this goal – though I still am always learning and hopefully will always continue to.
Have you completed any additional training to support you in your role?
In 2014 I completed my Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing through Myerscough College. Obtaining the diploma was another big milestone for me and it really helped in expanding my knowledge in areas that I was most interested in – anaesthesia and surgical nursing.
What’s the next step in your career pathway?
For the time being I am focused on trying to become the best supervisor I can be for the people that I work so closely with and for NDSR. I feel that as I am relatively new to this role, I still have bundles to learn on the supervisory side of things and will no doubt continue to attend training courses in relation to supervising.
Once my children are a little older, I would love to get stuck into another post qualification course such as the VTS.You may also be interested in visiting our Veterinary Nurse vacancies within our recruitment section.
Case Advice or Arranging a Referral
If you are a veterinary professional and would like to discuss a case with one of our team, or require pre-referral advice about a patient, please call 01883 741449. Alternatively, to refer a case, please use the online referral form