Life as a Night Shift Nurse

At our AdelaideVet Trinity Gardens clinic, the dedicated and friendly team offer an emergency service for your pet from 8 pm until 12 am every night of the week.

With this emergency service, we have a Veterinarian and a qualified Veterinary Nurse at the practice ready to take in your beloved friend, whether they have been experiencing anything from vomiting, diarrhoea and not quite being themselves, right up to the more serious stomach twist or hit by car accidents.

My name is Liz Hunt and I am one of the emergency night nurses at AdelaideVet Trinity Gardens. I thought I would explain a little about our shift to give you insight and answer the many questions we come across whilst providing the after hours service.

Our shift starts at 3.30pm and we turn the phones over to night switch at 12am. If you do have an emergency after 12am, the answering machine will give details to help in these situations.

When we start our shift, the hospital nurse scheduled for that day will give us rounds of the wards and explain to us the particulars for each patient, this will include; their presenting problem/s and their treatment plan for unwell hospital patients, or if they have simply been in for day surgery, we discuss any medications, the home care instructions and discharge times. The day staff will then finish their shifts leaving the late afternoon and night shift nurses to carry on with the days proceedings.

At this time, there still will often be procedures to complete such as surgeries, ultrasounds and radiographs. As we also consult right up to 8pm, there are often patients admitted over this time, for us to conduct blood tests, place on intravenous fluid therapy and so on.

Each patient has a hospital day sheet for every day they stay with us. We need to spend time completing our patient’s new forms ready for the following day, detailing their treatment plans, medication routines and feeding guides. There is also the regular autoclaving of instruments, continuing to run bloods and assist Veterinarians and other team members in their roles along with many other regular activities to help the day to day, night to night running of such a busy practice.

Whilst all this regular work is being performed, an emergency may present to the clinic and will be assessed by our Veterinarian on duty. These could vary between minor incidents or critical emergencies that need immediate investigations and surgery; these will run late into the evening or early hours of the morning. As the night nurse, we are here until the last patient has been attended to and are settled until morning. We often have patients in overnight and will usually be on duty until 2, 3 or 4am making sure everyone is attended to and their medication requirements met.

There are occasions when the nurse on duty is required to stay with a critically ill patient that requires supervision all through the evening, until the morning staff arrive at the clinic the next morning. This is at a cost to the client, but their fury friend is receiving the best care by a qualified nurse dedicated to their recovery. Once the morning staff arrive, the night nurse will conduct rounds, updating the team on their treatment plans and the nights activities before leaving.

I very much enjoy being an emergency night nurse here at the hospital. Some nights are quieter than others, and some nights are absolutely manic! From where I live in the Adelaide Hills, I leave home at 2.30pm and it’s always a guessing game of what hour will I arrive home the next day. Will it be 1am or 8.30am!

Having being informed from the practice that I hold the record for the most ‘overnighters’ carried out, I have had many nights to say I was proud to be a Veterinary Nurse and what we achieve as a hospital. Without overnight care, some of our patients wouldn’t be here today. It is satisfying knowing that we can make a pet’s life more comfortable and help an owner rest a bit easier knowing we are here when we are needed.

If you do have an emergency, please call us at the Trinity Gardens clinic on 08 8169 9777.

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