Education

An introduction to effective leadership of teams

  • December 2018

Within a healthcare setting, effective team work is achieved when team members understand, believe in and work towards the shared purpose of caring and working for improving outcomes for patients. This sense of common purpose should however never be assumed. Team leaders should talk about it at every opportunity and ensure all team members are striving towards it within their daily work. Team leaders should develop a ‘teaming strategy’ to plan how their staff will act and work together. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that many veterinary nurses become head nurse or team leader with no leadership development training being offered; as the purpose of a team can seem so self-evident, it is often overlooked or wrongly assumed to be in existence by those new to a leadership role. This article will serve as an introduction to team development and leadership for those aspiring or new to the role.

An introduction to veterinary nursing leadership part one: getting to know yourself

An introduction to veterinary nursing leadership part one: getting to know yourself

  • November 2018

Veterinary nursing is a dynamic and challenging profession requiring engaging and inspiring role models and leaders. It is widely accepted that the most valuable asset in any organisation is its people, however in today's ever changing and demanding healthcare environment, identifying and developing such leaders can be problematic. Avoiding the fostering of people who are not well suited to a leadership role is just as important as identifying and nurturing those with more appropriate qualities. This article will outline the nature of veterinary nursing leadership for people aspiring or new to the concept of leadership, and clarify the importance of selecting appropriate leaders in advancing the veterinary nursing profession.

Not strictly true, but does it matter?

Not strictly true, but does it matter?

  • November 2018

As I get older my beliefs get firmer and slightly more ridiculous. For example, I honestly believe that if I met Ed Sheeran we would become lifelong and inseparable friends; I also believe that one day I will get to compete in Strictly Come Dancing, a la Judy Murray. Now, while I choose to consider these as truths, I do admit that I would have problems convicing you of their validity, and indeed my own family would also undoubtedly greet these assertions with disbelief. The fact is, I have no evidence to support my beliefs, and I am aware that this lack of evidence makes my assertions seem downright daft! But, my beliefs are harmless, no lives are at stake, and whether they are true or not is not important — not so where human and animal health are concerned.

The case for resilience in veterinary nursing care

  • October 2018

The purpose of this article is to provide a review of the concept of resilience and how it relates to the field of veterinary nursing. Resilience is defined as the ability of an individual to adjust to adversity, maintain equilibrium, retain a sense of control over their environment and continue to move on in a positive manner (Jackson et al, 2007). Because of the challenges faced daily by veterinary nurses, including taking care of critically ill or dying patients, staff shortages, and emotional exhaustion, it is important to address the concept of resilience, at both an individual and organisational level, in order to maintain a healthy workforce.

The role of reflective practice in professional development

The role of reflective practice in professional development

  • September 2018

Reflective practice (RP) is a process of critical evaluation and self-assessment whereby one deeply explores an event in order to learn from experiences, and consequently undertakes a change in perception or behaviour. RP can benefit practice through enhancing professionalism and encouraging self-directed learning (SDL). SDL is an important part of the lifelong learning undertaken by registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) who participate in ongoing continuing professional development (CPD). CPD is traditionally delivered using an input-based model, where the time in attendance of activities, such as lectures and seminars, are accrued. Although this model ensures a learning activity has been undertaken, it does not ensure any actual learning has occurred, and whether there has been a resultant increase in professional competency. As such, an outcome-based model of CPD has been proposed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which includes planning, doing, recording and reflecting. The addition of RP to this new cycle ensures that RVNs explore the completed CPD activity more deeply, and consider what specific learning has occurred. This learning can then be measured as outcomes, which may include, for example, improvements to patient care, client service delivery, local processes, the wider organisation, or the management of staff or students. There have been concerns expressed within the profession about the proposed move to an outcome-based CPD model, including the increased time that measuring and recording outcomes will add to the process. If the implementation of this new model is to prove successful, these concerns will need to be addressed.

Setting up a cat friendly clinic

Setting up a cat friendly clinic

  • July 2018

Despite the increase in popularity of cats as pets, there has not been a similar increase in the amount spent on feline veterinary healthcare. The stress experienced, both by the cat owner and cat, has an impact on the willingness of owners to bring their cat to a veterinary clinic. There are many ways veterinary clinics can minimise stressors, and even small changes can make a big difference for the cat and their owners, which strengthens the bond with the owner and increases the welfare of the cat.

Preparing students for practice

Preparing students for practice

  • April 2018

Traditionally education has prepared veterinary nursing students well to have the knowlege and practical skills to care for patients to the best of their ability. However, in recent years, more emphasis has been placed on the emotional aspects of nursing, and education has had to adapt to prepare students to look after their own wellbeing as well as that of the animals or owners. This paper summarises recent work on this topic and brings together a variety of different ideas put forward by both veterinary and veterinary nursing educators.

Coaching and mentoring: beyond the role of the clinical coach in veterinary practice

Coaching and mentoring: beyond the role of the clinical coach in veterinary practice

  • March 2018

The role of the clinical coach is well established within UK veterinary nursing practice; however this is often where the application of techniques such as coaching and mentoring begin and end. Both techniques have wider-reaching roles beyond that of the student veterinary nurse. The focus of this article will therefore be on the discussion of such techniques, and the use of their application to enable some new practical perspectives and potential applications for clinical practice and leadership roles within a veterinary nursing context.

Antibiotic resistance in small animal veterinary practice: veterinary nurses as antibiotic guardians

Antibiotic resistance in small animal veterinary practice: veterinary nurses as antibiotic guardians

  • February 2018

Antibiotic resistance is a challenge faced interconnectedly by the veterinary and human medical professions. The veterinary hospital is an environment where infectious agents are under continuous antibiotic pressure and can provide a reservoir for multi-drug resistant bacteria. The development of antibiotic resistance can only be minimised by utilising a multi-factored approach, ensuring that antibiotics are used appropriately, promoting a holistic approach to animal health to help negate the need for antibiotics and implementing effective biosecurity policies to prevent the spread of resistant organisms.

Euthanasia of aggressive dogs: ethical considerations

Euthanasia of aggressive dogs: ethical considerations

  • November 2017

Over the last decade, attacks by dangerous dogs on humans and other animals have been on the rise. This has inevitably resulted in greater numbers of aggressive, but otherwise healthy, dogs being presented in practice — often for euthanasia. This article aims to explore the role of the registered veterinary nurse (RVN) in the euthanasia of such patients. Legal and professional accountability with regards to this dilemma will be considered, and ethical frameworks will be discussed, as a way to help guide the RVN in these cases. The role of the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses in dealing with ethical dilemmas will also be highlighted.

Veterinary hospice: a compassionate option at the end of a pet's life?

Veterinary hospice: a compassionate option at the end of a pet's life?

  • October 2017

In veterinary medicine, palliative care is a relatively recent topic, with the demand for high quality hospice and palliative care for terminally ill companion animals increasing and more owners being attracted to practices that offer such services. Death of an animal is a common occurrence in veterinary practice witnessed by veterinary professionals on a daily basis; despite this, veterinary staff remain apprehensive about approaching the subject of end-of-life care with owners. End-of-life care can be a challenging period for veterinary personnel as most staff have not had any comprehensive training to consistently deliver the best possible end-of-life experience. The complex and delicate issue of end-of-life care can be introduced to the owners following the diagnosis of a terminal illness, allowing the owners to explore alternative veterinary care to euthanasia. It is important that the owners understand that palliative care is not curative but may increase the amount of time that the owners have with a pet following a terminal diagnosis. Owners can experience spiritual conflict when faced with the impending death of a pet and require support from veterinary professionals for assistance during this difficult period. Following the bereavement of a pet, grieving owners often experience disenfranchised grief as it is often trivialised in society, it is understandable then that owners seeking understanding and validation often turn to the veterinary profession for support.

Evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) — how nurses can get involved

Evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) — how nurses can get involved

  • September 2017

Veterinary nurses (VNs) are faced with clinical decisions every day and should use the best available evidence to help them to decide the best course of action. VNs should be confident in using evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) to do this, looking for evidence, appraising its worth and applying it to their work. This article aims to help VNs achieve this by giving advice on each step of using EBVM.

A compassionate journey part 4: self and team care

A compassionate journey part 4: self and team care

  • June 2017

Veterinary team members encounter end-of-life situations on a very regular basis, with euthanasia of animals being a common occurence. Over 80% of pets in the UK are euthanased at the end of their life (O'Neill et al, 2013), and almost a quarter of veterinary team members estimated that they had end-of-life discussions on a daily basis (Compassion Understood, 2016a). This is a source of stress for all members of the team, not least the clinical team members who have to actively participate in an animal's death. Further, supporting an often distressed and emotional animal owner, places a further strain. Compassion fatigue is a common consequence (Figley and Roop, 2006) and has a personal impact on the ability of the sufferer to ‘bounce back’ from these frequent stressors. In this final part of the compassionate journey series, the focus is on the impact that euthanasia and end-of-life care can have on the veterinary practice team and individuals and the steps that can be taken to minimise any negative effect.

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