Careers: become a veterinary nurse

By Drum Digital
24 November 2011

WHEN Khoni Maureen Zungu was a young girl she was devastated when Force, her family’s German Shepherd dog, died after being sick for a long time.

“I was completely torn apart when Force died, because I adored him,” she says. “After his death I became interested in learning about animals, their health, and how to prevent them from getting life-threatening diseases.”

Maureen (31) followed her dream and today she’s a veterinary nurse at the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Academic Hospital, which is part of the veterinary science faculty.

She works in theatre, having specialised in theatre nursing as a student. “I love it because every day brings a new challenge,” she says.

The first thing she does in the morning at work is check on the animals that have been in hospital overnight. “I take them outside so they can urinate. After that they’ll be checked by a vet and then it’s my turn to give them their medication, change bandages and so on.”

Basically, veterinary nursing involves providing primary health care to animals brought to the hospital by members of the public or those referred by private vets. A vet nurse also does laboratory work, monitores the anaesthesia given during surgery by a vet, treats animals in care and gives owners instructions when their pets are discharged.

The job also includes general office work such as keeping records, controlling stock and managing accounts.

Maureen, a dog-lover, says she never has a dull moment as the hospital treats all kinds of creatures, including birds, and farm and wild animals.

Her most dangerous case was helping a vet treat a sick, scared horse that had never been handled before. “We were worried he might bolt – but he didn’t!”

Passionate about her job, Maureen works eight-hour days and helps out after-hours in emergencies. “I can’t think of doing anything else – I have the best job in the world. I’m doing what I love, with animals that I love – and I learn something new every day.”

Read the full aritcle in DRUM of 2 December 2010

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