Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Send a Vet Nurse to India update

Send a Vet Nurse to India

This month sees the return of the JMICAWE team from India where we’ve been hard at work to introduce the veterinary nursing profession to Indian vets.  JMICAWE veterinary nurse Hayley Walters, supported by veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon also of the JMICAWE and Edinburgh Napier University’s Andrew Coe and Karen Hibell,  led a team of 8 3rd year student veterinary nurses to demonstrate the essential role of veterinary nursing within the veterinary profession. 

The ‘Send a Vet Nurse to India’ project was a collaboration between the JMICAWE, Kerala Veterinary Animal Sciences University (KVASU) and Edinburgh Napier University. The project involved fully integrating the student vet nurse team into the two veterinary teaching hospitals in Kerala and demonstrating the invaluable support a well-trained VN has to offer to vet in India, in not only improving animal welfare but also the smooth running of a hospital.

The students VNs were professional, hardworking, compassionate and despite being students themselves, developed the confidence to teach and explain to the vet students there what they were doing and why. The project gave student VNs a genuine insight into the challenges of working in a developing country and inspired them to develop practical solutions to dealing with the problems they faced.

Hayley said, “India has a few challenges when it comes to the veterinary profession: 1) they have a huge shortage of veterinarians. Last estimate revealed a shortfall of over 62,000 and 2) they don’t have trained, qualified veterinary nurses to provide the supportive care needed to ensure a high level of patient care. Many of the teaching hospitals have state of the art, expensive equipment in their operating theatres but no beds to recover their patients on and no staff dedicated to their daily needs”. 

Currently in India, trained veterinary surgeons are responsible for all veterinary duties, from basic techniques such as blood sampling or bandaging, to complex surgical procedures. The vast scope of this workload is a challenge to the development of the profession, as excessive time is taken up with minor procedures, basic animal management, and logistics such as stock control, which would, in other parts of the world, normally be the responsibility of the veterinary nurse.

The 8 student VNs fully immersed themselves in all aspects of hospital work including the inpatient area, anaesthetic monitoring, surgical patient preparation, handling, cleaning and physiotherapy. The afternoons were spent delivering workshops to students and faculty members, clinical skills practise on models and manikins and protocol writing to improve patient care and the running of the hospital.

KVASU were so impressed with what the vet nurses had to offer that all faculty members unanimously agreed to endorse a VN training programme and qualification. Building on this success Prof Nat Waran, who was also in India, met with the Indian Veterinary Council to discuss both veterinary and veterinary nursing education, and to propose the endorsement of a veterinary nursing training programme in India. Hayley has just finished writing a proposal and VN curriculum for the Veterinary Council of India and we hope to see India’s first ever Veterinary Nurse Training Curriculum and Associated Diploma Level Qualification very soon.


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  2. I am a trained vet in India. And the reasons enumerated above is why I quit practice! I couldn't see myself spending 80% of my time and energy needling, wrapping bandages and clipping nails. Its just so ridiculous that your competence as a clinician is judged based on whether your needle hits the vein in the first prick, and what drug you have decided to push into the vein becomes immaterial!