One of the aims of the VN Futures One Health Working Group is to ‘research and develop the Community Veterinary Nurse role’. During the research phase of this aim we have been focused on the work that many veterinary nurses are already doing that might be described as ‘community veterinary nursing’, and have been profiling veterinary nurses working in a variety of community roles and aim to publish these in order to inspire others to consider a similar move. The profiles obtained so far further demonstrate the diversity of community roles – ranging from providing end-of-life care to animals within an owner’s home, to educating pet owners on health and wellbeing.
There is clearly much that can be learned from our human-centred counterparts and, as such, the group has been in regular contact with a university providing human-centred nurse training in order to build links with community medical nurses and obtain information about how the skillset and knowledge required differs from that of other nursing roles. This includes consideration of the specific challenges of working away from the support of the practice environment which can be very isolating, and requires strong communication skills and a need for a higher level of professional autonomy. Medical nurse colleagues have also advised that safeguarding policies and an excellent support network are vital components in provision of community nursing.
The legal requirement (under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act) says that veterinary nurses must work under the direction and employment of a veterinary surgeon. This does create challenges to the creation of what might be called a truly independent community veterinary nurse practitioner, and work in this area is currently being conducted by the RCVS Legislation Working Party.
You can read more about the work on Community Veterinary Nursing from the chair of our One Health Working Group, Becky Jones DipAVN (Surgical) RVN.