Nia Ball, from North Wales, writes about her experiences on placement. Nia is a third-year students on the BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing with Small Animal Rehabilitation programme.
I am at Aberdeen Veterinary Referrals, in Scotland, for my placement year. It has been an eye-opener! I love the caseload and I love everyone who works here. I also meet adorable patients (all animals are).
In the referrals, I see a variety of orthopaedic, neurology, soft tissue, oncology, internal medicine and ophthalmology cases. They also have a CT, which I find really fascinating, and a visiting MRI. I definitely have more of an appreciation for veterinary professionals than ever before. The Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVN) inspire me every day and I hope I’ll be able to reach the same extraordinary level of knowledge and skill that they have.
Every day is busy and every day is different. This just adds to the excitement of the day. My role will vary to ensure I get the most out of my placement. Generally, my work is divided into inpatients, theatre and diagnostics, and anaesthetics.
My role with inpatients includes nursing patients in the kennel, cattery, medicine and isolation wards as well as ensuring all animals have exercise, physiotherapy if needed and their medications (the list is endless!). It also involves updating owners of patients’ progress, as these patients are sometimes hospitalised for weeks.
Another role is theatre and diagnostics, where I assist as a circulating nurse and do lab work and imaging (x-rays, endoscopy, CT). My anaesthetics role is where I carry out anaesthetics during surgery. I like having the variation of working in different aspects of patient care.
I am enjoying working through the Nursing Progress Log that ensures I am competent in all practical skills and also that I am prepared for my OSCEs* in the final year. I particularly enjoy rehabilitation of the spinal cases, which involves physiotherapy. Some of these patients are hospitalised for several weeks and so I become quite attached. It is so rewarding when the patients finally see their owners on discharge and the owners are so happy and grateful.
A lecturer contacted me a week ago to say, "We are super proud of how well you are doing, and how you’ve taken everything in your stride – from the move from home to Aberdeen to working in referrals – in a pandemic". I always tell myself to do my absolute best and I knew it was now or never. But now I can see just how hard I have been pushing myself and I’m so happy and proud that I have.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is not being able to visit home since moving here in September. This meant having Christmas in my flat in Aberdeen and not with family. I was lucky that one of my flatmates from Spain, who studies at Aberdeen University, also stayed at Christmas so we made a Christmas feast with turkey and all the trimmings. I am grateful that we have video calling and social media so I can still keep in contact with everyone from home and Harper Adams. I am also thankful to the whole team at AVR for being so supportive and caring, and to my lovely flatmates.
I would tell all Harper Adams students who are thinking about placement to just push themselves. Jump in the deep end and you won’t regret it. Also, it is only a year of placement and so, if I didn’t like referrals I could always go back to general practice/hospital.
* Objectively Structured Clinical Examinations