Shortly after the country went into lockdown, I entered my final year of training as a student veterinary nurse. In regular life I go to college every Monday, while working in practice for the rest of the week. Due to Covid-19, I have not been able to attend college since March, although my education has had to continue despite this. Rather than joining my friends at college, live lectures have been delivered online and reviews with my tutor are carried out over the telephone or via email. My classmates and I have been preparing for an exam which was supposed to take place this week; we have been informed that this has been postponed until further notice as it is unknown when or how we will be able to sit the exam with social distancing still in place.

Life in practice has also been a very different experience since the lockdown. Many of my colleagues have been furloughed and the doors have been closed to clients, limiting the patients that we have been able to see to those deemed as urgent or emergencies. Part of my training involves completing a nursing progress log (known as NPL) in which I must practice and complete a number of practical tasks. My clinical coach or another qualified member of staff must witness and ‘sign off’ these tasks. Working as part of a skeleton team (made up of a veterinary surgeon, myself and a qualified nurse) has meant working under a lot more pressure than perhaps I had been used to. For example, one task for my NPL is to scrub in and assist with sterile surgical procedures. I had already practiced this multiple times in a controlled setting before lockdown for routine procedures; in the first week of lockdown I had to scrub into an emergency surgery to assist the vet with removing a pyometra. This was a totally different experience under the pressure of an emergency, and I feel like it was useful experience to have gained for my training.

I first started out at Swayne and Partners in 2017 as a receptionist. I am glad that I had the experience of this role going into lockdown as lot of our time is spent triaging patients over the telephone and giving advice in this way to reduce the footfall to the practice.  Over the last couple of weeks, with lockdown easing slightly, our nurse teams have now merged. This has helped us a great deal in terms of juggling telephones and patients! I am hoping that as the lockdown continues to ease it will not be too much longer before the whole team comes back to work and we can begin to see our clients face to face again. My friends and I are looking forward to returning to college: as convenient as the online lectures have been, they are not the same as being in the classroom. Hopefully, our exam will not be postponed for too long, so we can continue working towards our goal of being qualified this time next year!

Nadine scrubbing into theatre for her training