Vets Now’s new Enhancing the Nurse Role programme has taken a major step forward with the completion of an innovative simulation-based pilot training project.
Following the pilot over 200 Vets Now nurses from its emergency clinics across the country have now signed up to the training, which is set to transform the client and patient experience in the UK’s leading emergency and out-of-hours provider.
The ambitious project comes as the RCVS Under Care review changes swing into practice.
“Nurses are trained to do so many things, but historically we rarely had the opportunity to be able to use all of our skills,” said Racheal Marshall, Vets Now’s Head of Clinical Nursing.
“We now aim to ensure every role in the clinic team is doing everything they can to improve the client and patient experience, and give our nurses who want to advance, greater job satisfaction.”
The extensive work on the enhanced nurse role has been broken down into three phases, focusing on front of house care, patient procedures and team dynamics.
Analysis of the clinic experience highlighted bottlenecks with patients both waiting to be seen initially and then awaiting vets to be free after being admitted.
The work at the initial four Vets Now clinics, Colchester, Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Southampton, was temporarily paused until the RCVS Under Care changes came into force on September 1 2023.
They have now ramped up again and the first six months of 2024 will see workshop training offered to veterinary nurses at all 58 emergency clinics.
“Previously, vets were required to do a hands-on examination prior to delegation to a veterinary nurse,” said Racheal. “The Under Care changes mean we can now use protocols which allow our nurses to start the patients’ journey of care where appropriate.
“So, for example, under the protocols a nurse may offer blood tests prior to vet consultation, and the vet can then continue the consultation with the owner with additional clinical information.”
To date, 11 immersive training workshops have been run using partial task simulators that provide a realistic experience and safe environment to learn new – and reinforce existing – skills to allow nurses to grow in confidence. Emphasis is placed on hands-on practical skills that can be used back at clinics, including placement of central lines, urinary catheterisation of blocked cats, feeding tube placement, suturing and a two-day ultrasound training.
The third phase of the Enhancing the Nurse role programme, which looks at team dynamics, has been overseen by Zara Kennedy, Head of Veterinary Standards at Vets Now.
“As a vet, the collaboration between the vets and the rest of the team, and maximising everyone’s skills is critical,” said Zara.
“This third phase focuses on teamwork and communication, and we are utilising much of what has been learned in human medicine. A focus on these softer skills enhances the way the teams carry out patient care and ultimately result in better patient care. Using the great skills of our nurses can help take the pressure off those bottlenecks where currently the patients are waiting for the vet.”
The transformational changes brought about by the ambitious Enhancing the Nurse Role programme are intended to make Vets Now an even more appealing workplace for veterinary nurses.
“The investment into this project shows how much Vets Now value our nursing team,” added Racheal. “Using all their skills provides them with greater job satisfaction, and by mixing with other nurses at the training, as well as being a great opportunity to bring our nurses together, they get to share and learn from each other's experiences.
“It will bring greater benefits for patients and clients and their experience in the clinic.”
• Vets Now Guildford’s PNM (Principal Nurse Manager) Gemma Vosser Smith said of the training: "I came away feeling confident and competent in my new skills to communicate with owners. Skills as simple as introducing myself, where to and how to stand have helped me in clinic with a number of clients.” Gemma Vosser Smith, Guildford (photographed)
• “The course was informative and key for refreshing/practicing practical skills. It has helped to gain confidence in skills that are not always used frequently.” Rebecca Gamble, Middlesbrough (photographed)
• “I thought the training was great, well delivered, insightful and gave me confidence in not only performing the procedures in clinic but cheerleading their use when the patients would benefit from a central line or arterial sample. I hope the training continues.” Kerrie Carr, Portsmouth
• “Thank you for giving me the confidence to place my first oxygen catheter and teach the other Nurse on shift so she could place the second one.” Lindsey Fidler, Sheffield