Veterinary Nursing – not a 9-5 job!

None of us want a poorly or hurt animal, but when they are ill you can bet your life it won’t be during normal working hours! So inevitably, a huge part of veterinary nursing is the care that takes place after the doors have closed for the day.

All veterinary practices are required to provide a 24 hour emergency cover to their clients and patients. At our two RCVS accredited hospitals in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe, the premises are staffed 24 hours a day to ensure this is achieved. Some surgeries may choose to outsource their emergency cover to a different practice, but at Charter a member of our team of vets will always be available to attend to inpatients and emergencies, whatever time of day or night.

The nursing team play a crucial role in the provision of onsite out of hours care. They attend to all of the individual patients’ needs, from hamsters to Great Danes and lambs to horses.

Tasks that are often carried out over a night shift include:

  • Observation and monitoring of all patients, regularly recording all details

  • Administering medication at directed intervals

  • Feeding, toileting, TLC and cleaning of patients and their environments

  • Maintaining a functional working environment – cleaning of wards, laundry, preparing for the following day

Our out of hours telephone service is also managed from our two hospitals.

When a call is made to any of our locations for an emergency, you are not put through to an answering service- it is our nursing team that are answering the telephone. They will then liaise with the veterinary team and make any necessary plans for a small animal to be seen at the practice or for a farm or equine vet to visit the farm or yard. 

In an out of hours emergency the nursing team also assist the vets with any necessary treatments or procedures that are required for that case such as:

  • Triaging and examining patients

  • Running laboratory tests and investigations

  • Anaesthesia

  • Emergency surgery

  • Radiography

Interested to find our more about a career in veterinary nursing? Click here to find out about training routes, or take a look at the BVNA’s careers advice at