ABSTRACT: Many veterinary nurses regularly undertake clinics and consultations within their practices. The Consulting Veterinary Nurse book was based on direct feedback from veterinary nurses undertaking these clinics and consultations, and includes the guidance and information that they wanted to see, compiled in one place. Many nurses do not receive any formal training on the running and conducting of clinics, and setting them up can be a daunting experience. This book provides information on setting up, the content and running of clinics and it will form a welcome addition to the nursing library.

The role of the veterinary nurse has evolved greatly – from being merely a kennel maid to a fee-earning, regulated professional. Nurses have a vital role to play in todays modern veterinary practice. They offer advice to clients, perform work in order for the veterinary surgeon to make a diagnosis, and undertake preventive health care.

Nurses with a keen interest in consulting can pursue this interest, whilst being instrumental in increasing practice revenue. Veterinary practices are businesses, and it is important that nurses who consult are aware of the need to maintain sufficient workload not only to cover their costs and overheads, but also to make a profit. This isn’t necessarily through charging for their services, but through products sold, increasing the footfall through the practice, helping to maintain client loyalty and, most importantly, compliance.

In simple terms, nurse consultations create loyalty, are a better welfare choice and add to the commercial aspect of the business.

Veterinary nurses who fully utilise skills learnt during training are more likely to remain with the profession, and to feel more valued members of the practice. They are not ‘mini-vets’ and perform a completely different role to that of the veterinary surgeon; though the latter do undertake many roles that are delegated for nurses – blood sampling and post operative checks, for instance.

Niche fulfilled

The purpose of The Consulting Veterinary Nurse is to act as a source of information for those veterinary nurses who undertake consultations, clinics and other initiatives, such as puppy parties.

Veterinary nursing has evolved into a regulated profession and the majority of veterinary nurses are now regulated. Therefore, an understanding of the Veterinary Surgeons Act is essential in order to ensure that the RVN’s actions are within the law and the professional code of conduct.

Details on regulation, indemnity insurance, SQP qualifications and working within the Veterinary Surgeon’s Act and Code of Professional Conduct are explained in a format that reflects the work being undertaken by the veterinary nurse.

Compliance counts

One of the most important aspects of the nursing consultation is the opportunity to maximise owner compliance. Compliance has three beneficiaries:

   the pet (it’s health and welfare is increased)

   the owner (being able to have a happier healthier pet) and

   the practice (increasing client service, profits and increases in staff motivation).

Compliance can break down, and can lead to less healthy pets and fewer bonded clients. This can occur for a number of different reasons – most of which relate to a lack of owner understanding.

Many clients don’t understand the nature of the disease involved; the requirement for continued long-term treatment and, in some cases, the owner can be too embarrassed to ask the veterinary surgeon for further clarification. These cases tend to present as the owner stating that they felt that the pet seemed better, unsure of what the term ‘chronic’ meant and that they felt or understood that just one course of the treatment was required.

Few clients actually state that cost is an influence in the breakdown of compliance. Apathy can be a major cause of compliance breakdown, but with good support and client education this can be reduced. Helping to increase compliance is a major role for nurses and nursing clinics. Full understanding of disease processes, nutritional advice and monitoring protocols are a necessity in order to be able to educate and inform clients on the best way to care for their pets.

The fifth vital assessment

As well as ensuring compliance in treating pets, veterinary nurses can also play a vital role in advising on correct nutritional care. In order to recommend a diet – or give general advice about diets –   it is important to be able to understand packaging/labels of diets, feeding techniques and how to calculate the energy requirements –   and thus the feeding quantities of appropriate amounts of food.

Many owners will ask if a specific diet that they are currently feeding is good for their pet. In these cases it is just not the food that needs to be reviewed but also the pet’s overall body condition, energy levels and health status. One diet may suit one dog exceptionally well, but will prove unsuitable for another similar individual. Other factors, such as availability of the diet, pack sizes, price and owner preference also need to be taken into account.

Owners may be influenced by issues such as whether the food is ethically’ manufactured, and they may have a preference for organic foods or wet foods rather than dry. In some cases, owners will specify that they want to avoid diets which contain artificial colorants and preservatives.

The Consulting Veterinary Nurse provides a detailed understanding of pet food labels that will enable the nurse to ‘translate’ these for clients in order for them to make an informed decision.

The veterinary nurse is ideally placed to aid the veterinary surgeon in the collection of samples for diagnostic tests. The veterinary nurse’s expertise should be utilised in the performance of procedures such as blood sampling, blood pressure monitoring, Schirmer Tear testing, skin sampling and urinalysis. Nurses are not permitted to make a diagnosis, but are adequately trained in the preparation of the animal and the collection of samples to assist the veterinary surgeon to make a diagnosis.

Routine monitoring of medical cases can also be undertaken by the veterinary nurse – for example, the monitoring of basic parameters which information can then be passed to the veterinary surgeon prior to consultation for periodic reviews of medication. Having all blood/urine results collated prior to consultation and physical examination by the veterinary surgeon will make the process more efficient, and from a business point of view, more cost-effective in the utilisation of staff members.


The Consulting Veterinary Nurse has been written with on-going feedback from veterinary nurses. It encompasses all the requirements that veterinary nurses have requested that they would like to see in a textbook for those who undertake nurse clinics and consultations. 

Paperback:264 pages

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 4th edition [17th August. 2012]

ISBN-10: 0470655143 ISBN-13: 978-0470655146


Nicola Ackerman BSc[Hons] RVN CertSAN CertECC C-SQP

Nicola works as the senior medical nurse at The Veterinary Hospital in Plymouth. She graduated from Hartpury College with an Honours Degree in Equine Science, and subsequently qualified as a veterinary nurse. Nicola is a past officer of the BVNA, but now is the vice-chair of The Pet Obesity Taskforce, and sits on the VMD's appraisal panel for suspected human adverse reactions.

To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2012.00191.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 27 pp 269-270

• VOL 27 • July 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal