Monday, 12 December 2016

Send a Vet Nurse to Sri Lanka - project report

Two vets, 5 vet nurses and 1 Sri Lankan vet school

This month sees the return of our veterinary nurse Hayley Walters and vet Heather Bacon from their two week visit to Kandy, Sri Lanka where they led a team of three newly qualified veterinary nurses, one student veterinary nurse and one feline medicine vet.

The ‘Send a Vet Nurse to Sri Lanka’ project was a collaboration between the JMICAWE and the University of Peradeniya’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Sri Lanka’s only vet school.

The project involved fully integrating the vet nurse team into the teaching hospital in Sri Lanka and demonstrating to their Sri Lankan counterparts the invaluable support a well-trained VN has to offer in not only improving animal welfare but also the smooth-running of a hospital.

The VNs were professional, hardworking, compassionate and despite being either students or newly qualified, developed the confidence to teach and explain to the vet students there what they were doing and why.

Hayley said, “Sri Lanka has a few challenges when it comes to the veterinary profession: 1) one vet school is providing the education for every single vet in the country and they are incredibly busy and sometimes understaffed; 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 small animals that arrive at the hospital are badly injured in road traffic accidents or have complicated medical conditions, but with limited staff and resources, many of the animals are unable to receive the level of care they need as there are almost no staff dedicated to their daily needs”.

Currently in Sri Lanka, 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 4 VNs fully immersed themselves in all aspects of hospital work including the inpatient area, anaesthetic monitoring, surgical patient preparation, handling, cleaning and physiotherapy. The evenings 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. The University had also invited the dog units of the Sri Lankan police, army, navy and air force to attend so outreach was larger than originally expected.

The University of Peradeniya’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science were impressed with what the vet nurses had to offer and all faculty members unanimously agreed to endorse a VN training programme and qualification.

Hayley has just finished writing a VN curriculum for the university to consider and we hope to see Sri Lanka’s first ever Veterinary Nurse Training Curriculum and Associated Diploma Level Qualification in the near future. We trust this will be a long and successful collaboration.

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