Dear Reader

Words are at the heart of my work.

During the course of every month I read, write and speak thousands of them. And occasionally, a few words come along that halt me in the tracks of the routine and humdrum, and inspire through their ability to find merit and value in the mundane.

Such was the case when I read the introduction to Angel Thompson’s article in this month’s issue of the VNJ. For at the outset she states: “I think it's fairly safe to say nursing small animal patients with diarrhoea isn't favoured by many. However, the next time that familiar smells waft your way, rather than just groaning and reaching for the rubber gloves, consider that diarrhoea can actually be a very varied and interesting condition.”

Once we have sniggered a bit and made all the predictable comments, we do well to recognise that what Angel is talking about is not simply coping with unpleasant physical stuff, but putting into practice the core principles of veterinary nursing. Of elevating the care of the commonplace to the status that each and every case presented, justly deserves.

With the advent – almost on a daily basis, it seems – of advances in veterinary diagnostic, medical and surgical techniques, there is a natural tendency to belittle the importance of the basic nursing care of humble conditions, such as diarrhoea and vomiting; and with it the status of the person carrying it out. Nothing should be further from the truth. Veterinary nursing is all about compassion. Compassion is an essential starting point. It is not simply a synonym for pity. It is more. It is to have pity and to act upon it. Properly understood, compassion is both a response to the vulnerable and a determination to help them.

And then there is the question of trust. The relationship between trust and healing in modern veterinary nursing can be analysed at a number of levels. The most basic of these is that of trust in the healing relationship. Without at least some trust in the veterinary professional – or, better, a mutual confidence between client and professional – healing may be put at risk.

Perhaps too, in this era when we are exhorted by the marketing gurus to capitalise upon the trust of our ‘bonded’ clients, we may, on occasion, inadvertently lose sight of our ethical ‘bond’ to care for the wellbeing of all our patients, irrespective of the nature or severity of their condition. They have no choice. They trust us by default.

So take heart. No matter whether you are manning an MRI scanner or simply dematting a manky mutt, you are a veterinary nurse and can be proud of it.


David Watson BVetMed MA MRCVS Editor

• VOL 25 • No5 • May 2010 • Veterinary Nursing Journal