Veterinary Nurse Job Description
After taking the required veterinary nurse training courses, a veterinary nurse is one of a number of para-veterinary workers who assist a veterinarian; however, unlike veterinary assistants, a VN has a protected title and certification requirements. He/she may be required to observe animals (taking pulse, temperature and so on), manage wounds (dressing and splinting), catheter procedures, ear and eye flushes and injections.
In addition, the VN may need to analyze skin, blood and urinary specimens. Although a great deal of their work is clinical, they also have a huge investment in hands-on performance and care with the animals. A special love and rapport with pets is absolutely essential to the veterinary nurse’s success, as well as owner and peer rapport, and the ability to successfully collaborate with thesupervising veterinarian. She is also an educator, directing pet owners to healthy and stable care choices for their pets, and on occasion an advocate for animal rights and anti-cruelty.
How to Become a Veterinary Nurse: Schooling
As with most nursing careers, human or animal, an early start is recommended: you should get all the high school math, chemistry and biology you can. However, if you know your specialization is going to be as a veterinarian technician or technologist, you should enroll in a veterinary training program, an accredited university that specializes in preparing professionals in animal health care.
Once enrolled, you should be prepared to train as a veterinarian technologist, a four-year course that yields a bachelor’s degree. The program will include some of the following veterinary nurse training courses:
Principles of Medicine
Radiology (surgical, which is the same paradigm as radiological surgeries for humans)
Pharmacology and anesthesia administration
Veterinary clinical pathology (specialization course)
Animal care, management and nutrition (specialization course)
Veterinary Nursing Certification
Once you have completed the veterinarian technician or technologist schooling (and the latter is definitely preferred as it gives many more job opportunities), you can sit for the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Examination), which allows you to achieve certification as a veterinary nurse. Most veterinarians require this certification before they will hire you
Animal Care Experience for VNs
In addition to certification, most veterinarians require multiple hours of animal care experience in an internship (at the veterinarian’s office) or an externship (a facility outside of the veterinarian’s office, such as a zoo or animal care facility). The student should work with both small animals (cats, bird, dogs) to large (horses and rural animals).
Fortunately, most veterinarians also allow for internships that provide the minimal hours necessary for certification. Usually, the budding veterinary nurse works as a veterinary assistant, a less demanding role than that of veterinary nurse, and the novice will probably be placed under the tutelage of an actual veterinary nurse for most of the training. The role of assistant could extend from simple observation of animals (vital signs) to actual assistance in animal surgery, depending on the rigor of the training program undertaken.
You do not need to achieve RN certification or similar status to work as a VN, and the course work is much less strenuous, particularly in internships. The hours required will vary from institute to institute, and most training programs will offer both the training and examinations necessary to complete the classification of Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. However, you should look to complete at least 500 to 1,000 hours of part-time animal care hands-on training to be competitive in the VN job market.
Where Veterinary Nursing Is Going and How Much it Pays
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is excellent for a VN; the demand may grow beyond 38 percent by 2018. The starting salary range is between $20,356 to $30,677 for VNs with less than a year of experience.
This increases exponentially with the number of hours of Animal Care Experience, and with the Bachelor’s level of certification as a Veterinary Technologist, going as high as $44,002 annually. A Master’s level will command $65,000 and more.
In short, there’s never been a better time to take your love of animals and translate it into a fulfilling life-long career by registering for veterinary nurse training courses.