Going To The Vets? Find Out What Goes On Behind Closed Doors
Veterinary practices are a busy, thriving environment and full of activity every day. Clients rely on us to take care of their pets and do the best we possible can for them – and that we do!
People are always very interested to know what a day in a veterinary centre is like, so here’s a little insight into the goings on at a typical small animal veterinary practice.
In a morning when doors open many things have to be prepared for the busy day ahead. Nurses will prepare the prep room and theatre for the surgeries we have in that day and get out all equipment required for each surgery. The patients in for operations will arrive first thing and the nurse or vet will admit them in for hospitalisation to be settled into one of the wards and necessary blood tests are taken along with routine checks on inpatients. Some pets get very stressed being in an unfamiliar environment and we do our best to make them all feel safe and stress free. There are separate wards for dogs, cats and ‘small furries’ which are rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. Nurses will often make sure they ‘make friends’ with nervous patients so trust is established as soon as they come in and they feel more relaxed and comfortable.
While one of the nurses is setting up for the day; vets and other nurses will be consulting with clients and their pets through the morning up until around 11am. Surgery takes place late morning into mid-afternoon and the vets perform surgery on the patients that have been admitted in. Surgeries vary from day to day; common surgeries include routine procedures such as male castration or female spaying, (commonly known as neutering), dental procedures, caesarean sections and fracture repairs. More complicated procedures seen in practice can be things such as foreign body removals which are non-edible objects swallowed by the patient, tumour removals or pyometras (removal of growths and swelling in the uterus) which require a longer surgical time and are a higher risk for the patient.
The amount of surgeries performed each day depends on the size of the practice and amount of staff. Veterinary hospitals are staffed 24 hours a day and have the highest standard of equipment and facilities such as intensive care units and diagnostic equipment such as ultrasound machines. These hospitals may perform up to 15 surgeries a day whereas smaller private practices may only perform 5 or 6. However this does not include emergency procedures that may be bought in and require immediate surgery. It is our duty to help animals in need and many practices are well equipped for emergency cases often keeping blocks of time free throughout the day to be prepared for such cases. Smaller practices often have referral hospitals which they will send their clients to if surgery cannot be completed there.
After surgeries are completed for the day and all inpatients are recovering in their wards; it’s time to clean up and prepare for afternoon consultations. Cleaning is a very important job in practice and a thorough clean is required around 3 times a day. Specialised disinfectants are used all around practice which eliminate all bacteria and will prevent possible infections spreading around the practice.
All instruments and equipment used in surgery and the preparation room are cleaned with specialized instrument cleaner and put through an autoclave which uses steam to sterilize surgical kits and equipment ready for the next day.
Evening consults start and owners come to collect their pets that have been in for surgery. Nurses are responsible for discharging the inpatients and advising owners of proper aftercare depending on the surgery performed that day. Nurses and vets help each other where they can such as dealing with difficult or aggressive pets and assisting with restraint for administration of medication.
Teamwork is a vital part of a veterinary practice and each role within it is important to help keep your pets happy and healthy!
Student Veterinary Nurse