So you want to be a Vet Nurse…
Admirable, but are you really ready?
A career as a Vet Nurse has all the signs of having a great future as demand for veterinary skills continues to accelerate in parallel with the increases in pet ownership and pet care. The job market for vet nurses has grown by 45% in the last five years and is expected to continue growing at a rapid rate. Research confirms that working as a vet nurse is not only one of the most rewarding careers, it is also up there with human nurses in terms of community trust and respect. Plus you get to help animals and their families make their lives better, nursing pets back to health when they are not well, and keep them feeling great when they visit for a regular exam or veterinary treatment plan.
While having a career as a vet nurse is a great job, it may not be for everyone. Before you start your studies and are ready to apply for that vet nurse job there are a few things you should know. Not everyone is cut out to have a career as a vet nurse. We know, no one wants to hear this, but it’s true nonetheless. Here are five signs that becoming a vet nurse may or may not be the best career choice for you…
You don’t like people
It’s natural to gravitate towards loving, cuddly, non-judgmental, animals when people make you uncomfortable. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people give for having a career as a vet nurse is because they prefer animals to people. But before you give your notice and make that career change, you need to know that 90% of your job will be working with people.
A career as a vet nurse means that your job is to communicate to pet parents what their animals need to live a long and happy life. You will have to listen to them as they describe symptoms and behaviour changes. You will have to reassure them everything is okay when they call worried that something is wrong because their dog is twitching and crying in their sleep. You will have to comfort them when they are terrified they won’t be bringing their pets home.
When you aren’t working with the hospital’s clients, you will have to work with your team. Most treatments and procedures that vet nurses complete require two and more sets of hands. If you don’t get along with your team, you won’t be able to give the pets the quality care they deserve. If you want to have a successful career as a vet nurse, you have to learn to work with other people. Don’t worry, this is a learned skill that anyone can obtain.
Seeing animals in pain makes you uncomfortable
We don’t want to sound heartless here. No one wants to see an animal in pain. But for some, witnessing an animal in pain will be unbearable. They become lost in their grief and unable to turn that pain into action. Having a career as a vet nurse will guarantee that you will see a lot of animals suffering, as well as many happy ones. Some diseases and treatments will add to their pain before they are better. If you want a vet nurse career you have to be able to put your emotions away and focus on the task. The patients will need your help.
On one hand, it’s common for vet nurses to become a little desensitised to the suffering so that they can focus on the task at hand. On the other hand, having empathy also makes you a better vet nurse. The ability to pick out the signs that a pet is suffering or even not quite feeling its best will allow you to alert the vet and start treatment sooner. It’s okay to feel bad for a suffering animal, the important thing is that you also have to be able to take action as well as being empathetic.
You want a cushy job
No part of having a career as a vet nurse is easy. The job is physically demanding. You will spend your days wrestling dogs, and lifting animals onto treatment tables and x-ray machines. You will be squatting, sitting on the floor, and standing for long periods of time. In fact, you will be on your feet pretty much the whole day (with the exception of your lunch break). When you aren’t working with patients, it’s very likely you will be scrubbing kennels, sinks, floors, and everything else.
If you have been dreaming of an easy job cuddling puppies all day, then a career as a vet nurse may not be for you. Now if you like hard work and find it empowering, then it could the best job for you. You will be stronger from all of that lifting. Your attention to detail will be exceptional. Your reflexes will make a cat jealous. To reap the underlying rewards, you have to be willing to get a little sweaty.
You are not willing to help with euthanasia
One of the hardest parts of a vet nurse career is having to assist with euthanasia. No one wants to be the one to help a beloved member of a family leave this earth. It’s heartbreaking. Many vet nurses struggle with this procedure when they first begin. Hopefulness begs us to find an alternative. Unfortunately, sometimes the best thing for an animal is to be put down in a peaceful, loving manner. In order for that to happen, vet nurses have to play their part.
Instead of focusing on the loss, think about the patient and family. They are looking to you as the expert to be strong and let them know that one of the hardest decisions that are going to make, is the best one for their pet. Be the anchor they need to get through this hard time. Be the support to the patient who may be scared and sad because their family is upset. Be their hero in their darkest hour. If you can do this, you will find that a career as a vet nurse is one of the most rewarding careers you can have.
You are doing it just for the money
Everyone has their reasons for exploring a career as a vet nurse. You love animals. Great, come join the club. You like hard work. Perfect. You like science and learning new things every day. Yes! You want a great-paying job that will allow you to retire in ten years. Not quite.
People with a vet nurse job in the UK make on average between £17,000 – £22,000 a year, and up to £40,000 – £50,000 if you develop specialist skills in surgery, rehabilitation or emergency and critical care, or progress into being a Veterinary Practice Manager. While that is a respectable income, it will not make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. Even with overtime or working as a locum relief veterinary professional, retiring early is unlikely to be in your future, unless you win the veterinary lottery.
While you may have dreamed of owning a private island and a yacht to travel the world, a vet nurse career may not make that happen. That doesn’t mean that the job isn’t rewarding in its own way. All of the money in the world will not make you feel as good as it does to save a life. The wagging tails and purring kittens that you meet every day will feed your soul. The hug that you get from a client whose pet you helped save, is worth more than all the cash.
So, having a career as a vet nurse has its ups and downs, just like any career. If you are looking for a new job working with animals, then becoming a vet nurse may be the perfect fit for you. But, before you jump in with both feet do your research and make sure it’s a good fit for you. You can always start as a vet receptionist or animal attendant first and see how it goes. Or, if you already know you can handle the challenges that we have shared here, then get started on your studies and start planning your vet nurse job search.
About VET&PET Jobs Marketplace
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