PLUMPTON COLLEGE: No two days are the same when you're working at the vets

I've started at college again after a gap of more years than I care to think about having been made redundant from a healthcare job in 2014.

Jenny Tinson at an exotic animals lecture SUS-160612-104949001
Jenny Tinson at an exotic animals lecture SUS-160612-104949001

I decided to use the opportunity to re-train as a veterinary nurse, particularly as Plumpton College offered a foundation degree course for people who were not currently working in a veterinary surgery.

I started in October 2015, and my first year involved three days a week at college learning the basics that would help me in practice, such as anatomy and physiology, practical nursing skills and health and safety.

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Every week I also spent another two days at Northdale Veterinary Surgery – where I will be based for three years – being mentored and applying theory to real patients.

I’m now in my second year, which is spent wholly at the vets (three days a week), before returning to college for two more semesters in the third year.

It’s not all tickling puppies and cooing over kittens – though most of our patients are up for a scratch behind the ears.

A typical day can involve admitting your pets for an operation or a check-up, assessing their vital signs, providing a caring environment while they stay with us, or helping the veterinary surgeon by monitoring anaesthesia during surgery.

This week I’ve been involved with neutering operations, grooming and nail clipping, surgical lump removal from a cat’s face and unblocking a feline bladder. I help setting up and cleaning the operating theatres, decontaminating the surgical instruments, infection control – yes, lots of washing and cleaning – vaccinations and dispensing of flea and worm products.

Students have to compile a portfolio of evidence for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, demonstrating they have the skills and knowledge to perform the nursing role – so I am busy working through that. I’m just starting to think about my evidenced–based project in one aspect of veterinary nursing that will be completed next year.

No two days are the same and every day I learn something new.

It’s not everybody’s cup of tea dealing with blood and guts and the inevitable products of digestion, but I find it an interesting and challenging role, with a great mixture of interaction with both animal and human species…though looking after the giant cockroaches at college is less gripping!


A monthly roundup from students studying at Plumpton College.

This column is by Jenny Tinson, who is in Year 2 studying for a Foundation Degree in Veterinary Nursing.