Volume 3 Issue 5

Embrace your role and take action to achieve the future you deserve

In last month's editorial, Jennifer discussed the importance of specialism within veterinary nursing, and there has never been a more important time for change. Last year I gained the VTS (ECC) and I can honestly say this more focused way of learning has changed the way I look after my patients. The role of the veterinary nurses and the close relationship with patients is never more important than when nursing a critical patient. Nurses play a vital role in the outcome of these patients as their recovery is dependent on close monitoring, and monitoring their response to treatment. As nurses improve their skills set through education and experience, this knowledge base and close attention to detail allows them to become increasingly respected and trusted members of the clinical team. Our nurses’ views on patients’ treatment plans are viewed as being vitally important, as they are the ones who spend the majority of the time with the patients and notice the subtle changes in their clinical signs. With the introduction of specialisms nurses are able to play to their strengths and make a vital difference in patient outcome.

Normal for the breed?

Brachycephalic dogs are increasing in popularity in the UK, however new research highlights concerns that their owners may not appreciate what is abnormal in their chosen breed

Literature searching and reviewing

As veterinary nursing evolves as a profession in its own right with a greater importance being placed on evidence-based nursing care, it is vitally important that all veterinary nurses (VN) are able to both search for information and evidence to support and justify their nursing actions, and review these to ascertain their meaning and benefits to their practice. Information and evidence, or literature as it will subsequently be referred to throughout the article, is presented in a variety of different ways and typically categorized as primary, secondary or tertiary literature. A fourth category of information source is also described, which is called Gray literature. The difference between these categories of literature are considered. Depending on the status of the VN at any given point in time, for example whether they are a student VN, an undergraduate student VN, a graduate student VN or a qualified VN, the reasons for their literature searching and reviewing will be different. VNs studying towards a qualification will be required to search for and review literature to support their academic work, whether this relates to their discussions in an assignment or whether it relates to them trying to identify a gap in existing knowledge on a subject to justify their desire to conduct a piece of research.Having initially outlined what is considered to be a source of knowledge or piece of literature, this article aims to explore some of the problems associated with literature searching, provide guidance with regards to conducting an effective literature search, before finally considering how a VN can effectively and appropriately review a piece of literature; all VNs must be able to decide whether an article, research report or book they read is valid, current and reliable.

How to care for the bite wound patient

Bite wounds are commonly encountered in veterinary practice, and their initial management can make the difference between a successful case and one which proves problematic. These wounds can result in a detrimental cascade of physiological responses to the original injury including systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). These wounds require careful assessment, exploration and management and the systemic effects of the injury should also be considered as a priority. Correct and timely management of the bite wound patient can result in a positive outcome but severe cases rely heavily on close and careful assessment and monitoring of the patient as a whole.

Extended care report after graft surgery for a descemetocoele

This article describes the nursing care provided to a pug treated with a conjunctival graft for a descemetocoele. A descemetocoele is a deep corneal lesion in which the corneal epithelium and stroma are destroyed, leaving a lesion lined only by Descemet's membrane and corneal endothelium. They are commonly seen in brachycephalic breeds and, if not treated with caution rapidly, can lead to a ruptured globe. Nursing care and restraint of these patients are important considerations for a successful outcome.

WSAVA nutritional assessment guidelines

Animal-specific factorsAnimal-specific factors include the age, physiological status and activity of the pet. Problems related to animal factors are referred to as nutrient sensitive disorders (e.g. intolerances, allergies, and organ specific diseases). Diet choice for these patients should be restricted to those formulated to meet the disease-associated nutritional limitations of the specific patient.Diet-specific factorsDiet-specific factors include the safety and appropriateness of the diet fed to that animal in question. Problems related to diet factors are referred to as diet-induced disorders (e.g. nutrient imbalances, spoilage, contamination, adulteration). Patients with these disorders may be treated by feeding a diet known to be appropriate for the patient.Feeding management and environmental factorsFeeding factors include the frequency, timing, location and method of feeding, while environmental factors include space and quality of the pets’ surroundings. Problems related to feeding and environmental factors are referred to as feeding-related and environment-related disorders (e.g. over- or underfeeding, excessive use of treats, poor husbandry, competitive eating, or lack of appropriate environmental stimulation). These situations require effective communications to produce the appropriate behavioural changes in the client.

Veterinary technology/nursing student perceptions of an experiential simulated client communication workshop

Effective communication skills are highly desirable attributes for veterinary support personnel. These skills can be developed through experiential learning activities. This study evaluated the impact of an experiential simulated client communication workshop on final year veterinary technology/veterinary nursing student perceptions of competence related to a variety of communication skills by administering a pre- and post-workshop questionnaire. In the workshop, students had the opportunity to interact with actors playing the roles of clients within the context of common veterinary practice scenarios. Each interaction was followed by personal reflection from the student and peer, actor and facilitator feedback based on a student-led agenda. Following completion, when compared with pre-workshop responses, students were significantly more confident that they could utilize a range of professional and relationship-centred communication skills of relevance to veterinary practice. Almost all respondents indicated that the workshop was an enjoyable and valuable learning experience that helped to prepare them for the ‘real world’ following graduation. Results from this study may be of interest to institutions developing or enhancing strategies used for client communication skills training for veterinary support personnel.

Unintentional hypothermia: implications and management of the post-operative patient

Inadvertent hypothermia is not uncommon in the immediate post-operative period and is associated with impairment and abnormalities in various organs and systems that can lead to adverse outcomes. While there is much research to support the negative effects of hypothermia, often the focus is aimed towards minimizing heat loss in the peri and intra-operative period, however patients continue to lose heat post operatively, which can contribute to both short and long-term problems. Veterinary nurses have a pivotal role to play in minimizing such losses, with the main objectives consisting of detecting and recording post-operative hypothermia, as well as minimizing further heat loss and correcting any temperature deficits. Simple nursing interventions including careful positioning of post-operative patients away from draughty areas of the ward, frequent monitoring and recording of body temperature, and a combination of passive and active rewarming techniques can prove extremely beneficial to the recovery of hypothermic patients in the postoperative period.Using the recommendations highlighted within this article it may be possible to minimize the physiological effects of hypothermia as well as to improve patient comfort during this important recovery phase.

Guinea pig nutrition

The majority of disease processes that are see in guinea pigs are not infectious, but are in some way related to poor husbandry or nutrition. A clear understanding of the correct principles of nutrition helps veterinary practitioners understand how problems may have developed, and veterinary nurses can play an invaluable role in informing owners how to correct the diet, and how to use diet to solve problems and aid recovery. The single most important principle of nutrition is that the guinea pig has a daily requirement for vitamin C, as it cannot synthesize this vitamin itself, and sub-clinical vitamin C deficiency is a common predisposing factor for most other diseases. Guinea pigs spend most of their waking moments eating, and even short periods of anorexia (12–24 hours) can trigger them to break down their body fat to produce ketones as an alternative energy source, leading to the development of ketoacidosis which will be fatal. Any anorexic guinea pig should be given an emergency appointment. Knowledge of syringe feeding and nursing of anorexic guinea pigs is an invaluable tool for veterinary nurses.

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