Newly qualified veterinary nurses’ anxiety over their competence to treat animals and entering a new workplace would be helped by increased mentorship and a cast iron definition of nursing “competence”.
These findings came from a study published this year by the Irish Veterinary Journal, surveyed 66 registered veterinary nurses and 31 first year students at UCD and Dundalk Institute of Technology.
my heart was going … you just get nervous ... and the worry.
The study was conducted to look into background information that practicing nurses look on their newly qualified colleagues as lacking competence – leading to a disillusionment with nursing training programmes.
In general, nurses felt it took two years for a newly qualified nurse to become fully competent with the workplace demands.
you don't know where to start or how to deal with people and it can be very overwhelming.
The study is titled: Competence perceptions of veterinary nursing students and registered veterinary nurses in Ireland: a mixed methods explanatory study. Many nurses in the study spoke about learning on the job.
“I remember the first [emergency surgery] because … I got the phone call at 4:30 in the morning. And my heart was going … you just get nervous ... and the worry. But the high afterwards, especially as the animal was ok. It was amazing you know. Then the next one that came in, you just feel ‘ok, I know what to do now’,” one nurse said.
Individual nurses also spoke about being overwhelmed by their experiences.
“Just trying to juggle everything and know how to prioritise … you can [finish college] with your skills and then you just come in [to the workplace] and you don't know where to start or how to deal with people and it can be very overwhelming.”
The study concluded that educators and regulators should provide exact descriptions of the term “competence”.
It states this would help, “to avoid confusion and possible disillusionment amongst veterinary nursing stakeholders”.
The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has just launched a new guidance booklet for veterinary nurses entitled: The Role and Scope of Practice of the Veterinary Nurse.
It covers areas such as dispensing prescription-only vaccinations, dealing with difficult clients, and grooming, as well as frequently asked questions on topics such as vaccinations, blood procedures, and minor surgeries.
I would also like to commend all of our registrants
“Veterinary nurses play a vital role in the provision of veterinary care to sick and injured animals in Ireland. We hope that this booklet proves to be an insightful educational resource and enables the public to gain a better understanding of the role and responsibilities of a veterinary nurse," Niamh Muldoon, CEO and Registrar of the Veterinary Council of Ireland said.
"I would also like to commend all of our registrants for the vital work they have carried out as essential services and the excellent standards of care maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic”.