Clinical Lead ECC Nurse – Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month 2021

As part of Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month, we’re going to be focusing on some of our amazing veterinary nurses and show the different careers each one has chosen.  Today we hear from Harriet Deering – our Clinical Lead ECC Nurse. 

What got you interested in becoming a veterinary nurse? 

I always knew I wanted to become a registered veterinary nurse. I grew up surrounded by pets, farm animals and wildlife so this profession was a natural calling for me. I grew up with family members working in the industry, so I was exposed to all things veterinary from a very young age. I remember the first surgery I ever saw was a GDV, I was stood in the corner of the room in a lab coat 5x my size watching on in awe! 

How long have you been a veterinary nurse? 

I began my degree at The Royal Veterinary College in 2011 but I’ve been working in veterinary practices since I was 16. I used to go to our local practice after my school lectures to clean the consult rooms in return for watching surgery for a few hours in the afternoon! I was soon given more training and experience by the practice and by the time I started university I had lots of experience to aid my learning. I’ve now been a registered veterinary nurse for 7 years.  

What does your current role involve? 

In my current role as ECC Services Manager I oversee the management of the intensive care department and emergency services, coordinate our ECC vets, nurses and technicians.  I’m responsible for the overall management and training of the ECC team.  

What are the key skills you think you need to be a successful RVN? 

I personally feel so much of what we do as nurses is taught to us which is the exciting part of completing your training! However, having passion, drive and a caring nature is a must before taking the leap into veterinary nursing.  

What do you love about the job? 

I love so many accepts of my job; the pets we see, the people I work with and the fast paced environment of ICU. I thrive in fast paced environment when the pressure is on so the days, I love most are the busy ones!  

What makes it so rewarding?    

I’m sure a lot of people would say this but, no day is the same! Every day I come into work I have no idea what I’ll be doing. I could have a day on clinical emergency work, I might be helping out other departments in the hospital, I might have time for admin or most likely I’ll do a combination of all three!  

For me, one of the most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing our ECC team work together and support each other and at the end of a tough day or week knowing that we are all there for each other. 

Is there any particular patient or case you’ve been involved with that has stuck with you? 

When I was still in first opinion practice, I saw a Labrador that had been attacked by another dog.  He was rushed into us and had multiple injuries and it was touch and go for ages.  We had to do multiple surgeries but after weeks in hospital we decided he was well enough to go home.  By this time we had all fallen totally in love with him and very attached! When the owners came to pick him up their son, who must have been about 5 years old, got out the car and the Labrador ran over to him, rolled onto his back and gave the little boy such a big cuddle.  

I’ve seen lots of cases like this but seeing patients go home after recovering from life threatening injuries or illnesses will always be the most wonderful and heart-warming experience.  

How did you find the challenges posed by 2020? Both professionally and personally 

Oh 2020, what can anyone say about it! It’s been a tough one all round! I think it’s made us all more aware of the support our family and friends give us and without that available how important it is that as colleagues we can give that to the people we work with.  

I’ve been some overwhelmed this year by the kindness of my managers and colleagues, the support we’ve all shown each other is lovely. Personally, I found that exercise and cooking got me through multiple lockdowns, I really tried to ensure I found a definite way to end my working day and start my evening at home.  

What additional qualifications do you have or you’re working towards? 

After finishing my degree, I completed a nurse’s certificate in anaesthesia which I really enjoyed. I’m planning to complete the Linnaeus Management training this year.  

If you could go back in time what advice would you give to the younger you starting out on your career? 

To enjoy every second of it. I always rushed myself to learn new skills and take on additional knowledge that sometimes I didn’t always make the time to enjoy my experience.