Veterinary nurses overlooked as petition calls for better understanding

While it is commonly known that vet surgeons have one of the most demanding jobs, veterinary nurses are often overlooked when understanding the stress that those who work in the industry are under.

As a result of this, amongst issues such as pay there has been an increase in the number of nurses reporting high stress levels.

This rising trend is worrying for an industry that is having to deal with an unexpected backlog caused by the pandemic, which only heightens stress levels.

As per VetTimes, Yorkshire Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) have taken it upon themselves to tackle this by launching a petition.

The petition, which has over 13,000 signatures, is calling for better pay for RVNs and more understanding for nurses who are experiencing compassion fatigue.

Vet nurses are required to open their minds and hearts to animals and their owners, so they are increasingly at risk of this fatigue which heightens through the experience of stress and trauma that working in this field brings.

One veterinary nurse that we spoke with described not being able to “physically cope” and said there was “not enough hours in the day to see routine appointments”.

The UK has seen the highest rise in vets globally reporting a rise in stress levels, with 70% revealing that they felt this way, more than doubling from the 32% who reported the same pre-covid.

This increase in stress among vets is not limited to the UK however, with 64% globally expressing that they felt quite or very stressed, a 28% rise from before the pandemic.

This trend is worse in vet nurses, as before the pandemic only 5% reported feeling “very stressed” and post-covid nearly eight times as many nurses reported the same (38%).

The veterinary nurse we spoke with expressed frustration at how nurses are seen as “just the person that holds the animal in the room and answers the phone and books the appointments”.

“I’m the anaesthetist, I’m the radiographer, the lab technician, the ICC nurse, the nutritionist. I am the weight management general practitioner nurse as well as my speciality.

“A nurse can really vary their role, some nurses do hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture,” she told Vetspanel.

While she reiterated that she loves her job and that it is the reason that she has worked in the industry for over 20 years, the challenges of low pay and increasing workload makes it difficult for her to continue.

“I could go [and] mostly work from home for a similar if not more wage [and] a lot less stress,” she added.

The industry needs to learn from this underestimation of nurses before it loses them. Without veterinary nurses in practices, most of them would not be able to run properly. That in itself would only worsen the challenges that coronavirus has presented to the industry.