District Veterinary Nursing – an update following the BVNA Fringe Event

This short article written by Dot Creighton, and representing the views of the District Veterinary Nurse Development Group, offers an update following the group’s presentations at the District Veterinary Nursing Fringe Event at BVNA congress.

Showcasing the emerging role of the District Veterinary Nurse

The District Veterinary Nurse Development Group showcased the emerging role of the District Veterinary Nurse and their impact in the community at this years BVNA Congress.  As part of the session District Veterinary Nurse, Carla Finzel RVN, presented a number of her cases who received her support and nursing skills during recovery or as part of their ongoing care, following referral from veterinary surgeons in her community.  Carla only accepts cases on veterinary referral, a point the Group were keen to get across.

The support of vets, clients and fellow RVNs

Group member, Dot Creighton commented on the success of the event:

“Presenting the need for District Veterinary Nursing throughout the UK, based on Carla’s last 3 years of experience was another milestone for our Group.  We already have the support of a number of vets, clients and also RVNs who are keen to set up similar provisions in their own area. Our guests and target audience, included officers from the RCVS, BVA, BSAVA, BEVA, SPVS and VPMA, representatives from RCVS VN Council and BVNA Council and vets and RVNs from different backgrounds. “

“We wanted people to hear first hand about Carla’s work in her community and realise the positive effect this is having on patient welfare and owner wellbeing.”

This is especially pertinent in reaching owners who find it difficult to make repeated trips to the vets for ongoing care, because of their own needs or where recovery in the practice environment is difficult e.g. due to cost or deterioration of the pet’s emotional health.

“We sometimes expect a lot from our owners as we ask them to take on the skills of veterinary nurses or vets, skills that form part of our training, yet we expect owners to do the same overnight, often without any offer of help in the patient’s home.”

The District Veterinary Nurse can make a real impact on successful patient outcomes by supporting owners in delivering the care and treatments prescribed by their vet.”

Development of an introductory training programme

The Group are keen to tap into the skills of RVNs and are developing a training programme to help introduce the concept and needs, to the first generation of DVNs in the UK.  Once these nurses start to develop their district veterinary nursing skills, build a relationship with neighbouring practices and become ready to serve their community, they envisage the birth of a new exciting, rewarding career choice.

District Nursing will also help put RVNs firmly on the map

It is hoped that the very term ‘District Veterinary Nurse’ will put RVNs firmly on the map, as members of the public recognise the historic image of the (human) District Nurse and can visualise what a DVN could do for them.

Legislative hurdles

There are a number of hurdles to overcome, including the current legislation that requires RVNs to take direction from a registered veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner that is either their employer or is acting on behalf of their employer.  Such changes though seemingly aspirational could open up new opportunities for RVNs wishing to use their skills outside of the veterinary practice environment.

“The group views RVNs taking direction from a veterinary surgeon as the most pivotal part of this emerging role, but not necessarily one that is their employer – if they are to be successful in providing a wide reaching district veterinary nursing service.”

But as the legislation and its interpretation stands, the Group is very aware that DVNs need to be practicing legally.

Driven to make District Veterinary Nursing a reality

The group are driven to make district veterinary nursing in the UK a reality and want to work with the relevant organisations and interested parties to ultimately strengthen the community link between the pet, the owner and the vet by bringing affordable veterinary nursing care into the home.

This article was written by Dot Creighton DipAVN (surgical) RVN

Carla Finzel

Dot Creighton

Debbie Gray

Jill Macdonald

Joy Venturi-Rose

Belinda (Bin) Johnston

Suzen Gregersen

Cathie Bree-Aslan and Danny Aslan

Members of the Registered District Veterinary Nurse Development Group

This article was produced by the District Veterinary Nurse Development Group