Last week I observed Lisa, one of my RVNs (Registered Veterinary Nurses) place a cannula into the vein of a six kilogram Dachshund at the first attempt.
The small size of the patient means small veins, and its breed means short legs with awkward anatomy, yet she did it with relative ease, and almost no upset to our doggy patient.
This made me start to reminisce about one of my first patients after qualifying.
I loved my time at Vet School.
It was extremely hard work, and sometimes I felt out of my depth, but the professors were always there to ensure that every patient got the best possible care.
I have subsequently discovered that I had a world class education, and was sent out armed with the most up to date information available. I still had to gain experience and insight, of course.
One of those insights would be how very different general practice is from working in referral teaching hospital.
For example: at the Vet School, even back in the eighties, virtually every patient was sick enough to need to be on a drip. But when I started my first job, and I said I was going to put a patient onto a drip, there was a distinct pause. I wasn’t sure why, until one of the bolder nurses explained that none of them had ever seen that done before.
No problem. I was able to demonstrate how to place a cannula into the vein of the pet, tape it into place and connect it all up. Quite soon it became moderately routine to find a patient on a drip in our hospital.
Wind the clock forward and the student nurses were starting to be taught at their college how to take blood samples and place cannula’s.
Wind on some more, and I was no longer needing to do these tasks myself. I could leave it to competent and caring professionals, and be free to perform tasks that only I can do.
It really brought home to me how far we have come as a profession in our care for our patients, as well as how very skilful my colleagues are.