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My Nursing Journey by Emma Onyejekwe RVN APVN (Wildlife)

From a young age, I knew I wanted to work with animals. I originally wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, but when I got my first job working in a retail store, one of my colleagues told me she used to work as a veterinary nurse. I did not know much about the veterinary nursing role, as it does not tend to be advertised as much as a vet's role. I looked into how to become a veterinary nurse and got myself a job as an Animal Nursing Assistant in a veterinary practice with the hopes to train to become a vet nurse. In the UK, there are two different routes to become a Register Veterinary Nurse. You can either go to university with placements in practice or do an apprentice-style diploma. I decided to opt for the Level 3 diploma route. My training involved working in practice four days a week with one day a week at college. Although it was tough during my training, I preferred the hands-on experience in practice whilst studying at the same time. My course was a mix of practical and theory-based assessments, including case study assignments. As a Veterinary Nurse, you learn a range of information on the anatomy and physiology of small animals, the different medical diseases and how to nurse these patients, monitoring anaesthetics, taking blood samples and so much more. After 2 years of studying, I become a Registered Veterinary Nurse. However, the learning does not stop there. As Registered Veterinary Nurse in the UK, we have a professional responsibility and requirement to continue our professional development. This means we are always improving and broadening our skills and knowledge. I have completed the BVNA Oral Care and CEVA Hypertension Ambassador bitesize courses, to improve my knowledge in these areas.

My favourite part of nursing is feeling like I have made a difference to the patients' health and wellbeing. This can sometimes be by sitting with a patient in the kennels encouraging them to eat or giving advice and support to clients in nurse clinics. Aside from medical nursing, wildlife nursing is a passion of mine and I have completed an additional course in this area. I decided to undertake this course during the first lockdown when I was working as a locum veterinary nurse. As the course was online, I was able to study at home. I learnt about Hedgehogs, Foxes, Bats and other British Wildlife, including their common presentations and how to triage them in an emergency. To get some hands-on experience, I volunteered once a week at my local wildlife hospital. I am now working on sharing my wildlife knowledge with the rest of my team and other veterinary professionals.

I enjoy working as a veterinary nurse, as no two days are the same and I get to utilise my skills and make a difference. Every veterinary nurse has slightly different surgery or has their niche and together we can provide the best care for our patients.

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