A pioneering RVN has created the role of “veterinary district nurse” to help reduce pressure on patients, clients and clinicians.

Carla Finzel felt compelled to develop the post after observing the difficulties clients had in assimilating information about their pets’ condition following diagnosis or surgery.

The concept of continuing to care for their pets at home and administering medicines was also a daunting task for many. To address the problem, Ms Finzel launched her own business, Carla Finzel District Veterinary Nurse, that saw her conduct home visits and carry out a range of veterinary nursing services for dogs, cats and rabbits.

In addition to managing clinical cases and conducting daily nursing duties, such as tending to wounds and drugs administration, Ms Finzel runs a series of specialist clinics, including diabetic blood glucose curves, Doppler blood pressure monitoring and weight management clinics.

Carla Finzel with patient Russ. IMAGE: Carla Finzel RVN.
Carla Finzel with patient Russ. IMAGE: Carla Finzel RVN.

Ms Finzel said she felt tremendous empathy for owners who often felt helpless and confused on arrival into a consulting room after their pet had undergone a procedure.

She said: “The animal may have been brought initially to the surgery or emergency veterinary hospital, and hospitalised for a few days or weeks, which can be upsetting for owners.

“On top of all this, we then hand them a bag of tablets/ointments/insulin syringes/inhaler/feeding tube – as applicable to the patient’s condition – and the owners wonder how they are going to manage to administer all of them at home.”

That medication is often not administered correctly by owners is testament to the fact many struggle with the responsibility and need a helping hand, Ms Finzel said.

When it comes to providing optimum care for such clients, Ms Finzel believes the profession could adopt a similar system to its human medicine counterparts.

Ms Finzel said: “If a toddler was diagnosed with epilepsy, diabetes or cardiorespiratory disease, for example, and required convalescence at home, a community nurse and occupational therapist would automatically be allocated to visit them and help their parents adjust to the new routine with the help of a nursing plan until they recover or settle. So why not have a similar system for animals with ‘district veterinary nurses?’

The need for a district veterinary nurse role was recognised by Ms Finzel years ago, but she was only able to establish the self-funded business recently.

Ms Finzel added: “But it should not have to be like this. Therefore, I am calling on the RCVS to work with me to establish nationwide district veterinary nurse services and support a set up where we have structured rights just like RVNs working at clinics.”

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