Wednesday, 11 November 2015
Animal Welfare high on the agenda for student vet nurses travelling to India
Having a well-trained and compassionate vet nurse working in a clinic is important for both the smooth day to day running of the practice and also patient welfare. We are fortunate in the UK that veterinary nursing is a recognised profession, has a solid training programme in place and that the protected title is, hopefully, on its way. But what happens when a country has no such dedicated nursing support in place in its clinics?
JMICAWE veterinary nurse Hayley Walters has lived and worked in several developing countries and visited numerous vet schools, teaching hospitals and first opinion practices and noted that while many of the staff are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their patients and profession, there can often be a noticeable difference in the level of care an animal receives during surgery and in the recovery period after. Basic nursing, such as providing a comfortable bed, maintaining a good hydration status or being able to recognise and treat pain, is often absent and animals can be left compromised through benign neglect. With a lack of training or understanding of patients’ needs and few staff solely dedicated to inpatient care, the problem can be seen in even the most well-meaning of practices.
On the 11th of November this year Hayley and Heather Bacon will be teaming up with VN Karen Hibbel and vet Andrew Coe from the Edinburgh Napier University and taking 8 student veterinary nurses to India for two weeks to Kerala Veterinary Animal Science University, one of India’s most respected veterinary universities. This will be the first time this has ever happened and will be mutually beneficial for the British SVNs and the Indian vet students, technicians and lecturers who are currently responsible for inpatient acre. The British SVNs will get the opportunity to experience a different culture whilst nursing in challenging situations often with limited resources, and the Indian vet students will learn the newest nursing techniques, pain recognition and how to implement an inpatient care plan.
Dr David Smith, Veterinary Nursing Programme Leader at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “Developments within veterinary training institutes across the world have often concentrated on investments in technologically advanced equipment and training of veterinary surgeons. However, good welfare of hospitalised animals starts before the consultation room and long after medical or surgical intervention; this is the domain of the veterinary nurse.”
The 8 SVNs had to go through a Dragon’s Den style interview process and have been fundraising hard to pay for the trip. One of those going is Kirsty Dougherty. “Being able to enhance the lives of the individual animals we meet, even in a small way, will be incredibly rewarding. Being able, through education and collaboration with the Indian veterinary profession, to improve the lives and welfare of many animals into the future, in a long-lasting and sustainable way, would be an unbelievable privilege”.
The objectives are to improve patient welfare through the nursing profession and ultimately collaborate on India’s first ever veterinary nurse training programme. They will be working in the veterinary hospital every day and giving nursing workshops and lectures in the evening to all staff and students. We hope that when they leave they will realise just how invaluable VNs are to the clinic, how fundamental they are to improving patient welfare and hopefully miss them desperately!
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