Animal Trust has been developing nurse-led care for some time now and several surgeries have embraced the concept. It’s a vote of confidence in our nursing team and an important step for us to meet the increasing demand for veterinary care. Area Principal Vet Rhys explains: “Simply put, it consists of having a consulting or operating stream to run alongside the vet’s stream, to allow all, most or part of a procedure or visit, to be done by nurses. For example, a dental scale and polish, charting and X-rays can all be done by nurses and completed with very little vet input. A number of our nurses are carrying out routine stitch ups and simple mass removals,” he said.
Katrina, RVN at Wrexham, commented: “Being able to help with more procedures is good for both vets and nurses. It gives the vets some time back and it gives nurses the chance to learn new things and enhance their skill set.”
It’s something Katrina had been keen to do for some time, so when the chance came up to go on a course focusing on nurse-led care, she jumped at it. “I absolutely loved it,” said Katrina. “I learnt so much about topics such as stitching up and mass removals. The aim now is to get as many nurses as possible to attend, so there are more of us who can help out. There’s also a course on dentistry for nurses coming up at Animal Trust, which I’ve applied to go on, although I’ve already started learning on the job,” she added.
“The fact that as nurses we have these opportunities at Animal Trust is amazing. You feel like you’re really contributing and being useful, as well as learning new things. In terms of experience and qualifications, it’s another string to my bow, so to speak,” she said.
Here’s what Isabelle, Lead Nurse at Shrewsbury, had to say: “Initiating nurse-led procedures (NLP) has been a goal of mine since my own recent promotion. They are really beneficial to us here at Shrewsbury – not only for our day-to-day efficiency, but also for both our patients and our staff. These procedures increase job satisfaction and contribute to personal skill development also!
“We generally have two designated nurses for nurse-led procedures, working alongside our operating surgeons. Patients will have previously seen a vet during a consult, in which a plan is then created. They are then admitted by the NLP nurses. The patient’s general anaesthetic protocol is led by the operating surgeon and then the nurses perform the procedure, under the surgeon’s direction. We regularly perform stitch ups, simple lumpectomies, scale and polishes and all radiographs within this NLP role and feedback has been really successful from both the nursing team and the vets too! We’re really lucky that our vet team are super keen to develop our nurses, so are more than happy to help teach and guide us wherever possible.
“We are also really lucky to have RVN Liz, who has completed the BVNA Oral Care Nurse Certificate and she has already held a fabulous CPD session for our nursing team to teach us all about the benefits of dental radiography and how to correctly position patients for them – we regularly perform dental X-rays for all our patients requiring these now before the vet is needed for dental extractions. “RVNs Emma and Elise, in particular, have both really enjoyed the introduction of NLP and are keen to develop their Schedule Three nursing skills, both looking into surgical and dentistry certificates.
“Developing nurse-led care within Animal Trust is something that will benefit all our nurses and will contribute to overall increased job satisfaction and further allow us nurses to be recognised for our amazing skills and abilities!” said Izzy.
Afra, RVN at Ashton, added: “This year at the Ashton surgery we are really excited to start to improve and really focus on providing excellent nurse-led care. We have started to have ‘nurse procedure’ days on which two nurses will work together to carry out sets of radiographs and aural haematoma surgeries with the input of the operating vet when/if needed.
“Here at Ashton the nurses are also involved in what we call ‘vaccine clinics’. These are consulting blocks in which the vaccination vet is either consulting for one and a half or two consulting streams at once with the help of either one or two nurses. The nurses are responsible for communicating with the clients before and after the vaccine. We find out information such as how the patient is doing, whether or not they are on any medications and if the owner has any concerns. The nurses then discuss any treatment plan needed with the owner going forwards.
“The nurses here at Ashton are very enthusiastic about having the opportunity to carry out these procedures and continue expanding their skill set and knowledge. It is an amazing opportunity for nurses to really showcase what they are capable of and makes us feel incredibly valued. In most other practices, nurses are not given the opportunity to provide this type of nurse-led care and so I am extremely grateful to Animal Trust for supporting and encouraging us to do so,” she said.