About Veterinary Nursing as a Career
Veterinary nursing is a truly rewarding and challenging career. It’s the ideal job if you love working with animals and people.
Your job description.
Veterinary nurses assist veterinarians in all aspects of patient care, including:
- Medical treatment and hospitalisation
- Laboratory testing.
A large part of your job is the education of pet owners. So you’ll also need great communication and people skills to impart important pet care information.
A successful vet nurse also needs:
- A good foundation in Maths and English
- Ability to work as part of a team
- To be happy following directions and able to think for yourself
- Excellent observational skills
- Computer skills (as most clinics are computerised)
- Confidence handling a variety of animal species.
And, of course, you’ll need to enjoy working with animals!
The veterinary profession is constantly evolving so you’ll need to have a desire for continuing your education so you can keep up with the latest developments over the course of your career.
A day in the life of a Vet Nurse.
Veterinary Nurses perform a huge array of tasks in the clinic. Your day could consist include:
- Animal restraint during procedures and examinations
- Preparing patients for surgery
- Assisting with surgery (by holding instruments, etc.)
- Booking appointments
- Handling phone queries
- Monitoring patients under anaesthetic
- Obtaining pathology samples and performing diagnostic tests
- Administering first aid to animals
- Administering medication to patients under direction
- Caring for hospitalised animals
- Responding to and recognising emergencies
- Obtaining and recording patient vital signs
- Giving advice to clients on a multitude of topics
- Animal bathing and grooming
- Assisting with radiography
- Assisting with pet euthanasia
- Lots and lots of cleaning!
The exact tasks you’ll need to undertake will depend on your experience, qualifications, and the type of clinic you’re working in – whether it be a small, large or mixed animal practice, a general practice or a specialist centre (such as a 24 hour emergency centre, or working with registered veterinary specialists).
Your typical working week.
Most nurses work Monday to Friday with some overtime as required.
However, you should expect to work long shifts, with weekend and even after hours work common – again this varies from clinic to clinic. Many clinics are open on the weekends, and it’s not unusual to be rostered regularly on weekends.
If you work for a 24/7 emergency centre, night shifts are often required.
Compensation for a job well done.
The 'Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 2010' covers veterinary nursing. The majority of veterinary nurses are employed under this award. A copy of this award can be found at on the FairWork site. It details information about wages and other working conditions you can expect as a veterinary nurse.
Generally speaking, veterinary nursing is a lower paid job that many other less skilled positions. But the reward of seeing an animal come back to health more than makes up for it!
Many clinics also offer great staff discounts on veterinary care.
To learn more on how work your way to being a qualified veterinary nurse, visit our Career Pathways page.