Dear Reader,

If I were asked to summarise the contents of this month’s vnj in one word – a four-letter one at that – it would be ‘care’. Now this short word is very much in vogue in human nursing these days, with the recent seemingly earth-shattering revelation that what most hospital patients want from the people who look after them, is good old-fashioned care. And I guess that is the aspiration of most of our clients too, as they commit their animals to our care.

The reasons put forward to explain lack of care cross the human/veterinary nursing divide quite neatly too – not enough time, too many administrative tasks, and selection on academic criteria rather than genuine vocation and intrinsic compassion.

As Alison Lambert says in her article on the importance of cultivating key opinion leaders in local pet care businesses: ’if they know that your practice is warm, caring and always does that little bit extra; if they have seen that staff are friendly and passionate about providing the very best care; you can be equally sure that they’ll be telling that to their clients’.

In other words, the primary concern for your clients is the genuine care that they and their animals are shown when they come to see you.

But the concept of care doesn’t just apply to obvious nursing criteria – things such as postoperative management and TLC following anaesthesia and surgery, or the nursing care of wounds. It can be viewed in a much broader context.

How careful are you with practice equipment or the prescribing of medicines? How do you care for wildlife patients, for example? Or instances in which otherwise healthy dogs become candidates for euthanasia as a consequence of their aggression brought on by the ignorance and incompetence of their owners, rather than any intrinsic ‘badness’. Care in these instances may be based more on professional pragmatism rather than straightforward compassion.

And those nurses who are entrusted with the teaching of future generations of the veterinary nursing profession have a duty to care for their students – to care for them enough to understand them as individuals, who need to be carefully nurtured on courses that are motivating and tailored to their different styles of learning.

It seems to me that no matter how you have chosen to express your veterinary nursing career, the predominant emotional and professional characteristic required is the ability to care.


David Watson BVetMed MA MRCVS Editor

To cite this editorial use either

DOI: 10.1111/vnj.12000 or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 28 pp 38

• VOL 28 • February 2013 • Veterinary Nursing Journal