Liv Hurst RVN is a vet nurse at Vets Now’s thriving Worthing clinic. Liv, who was born and raised in Eastbourne, East Sussex, tells us why she sought out the action-packed life of ECC medicine.
Was vet nursing always your plan?
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t. After finishing secondary school, I went to college to study A-levels in Law and Psychology, hoping to eventually go on to university to become a Lawyer. My mind quickly changed when I realised I didn’t have the passion or enthusiasm for the criminal justice system. I had always loved animals growing up, so I decided I would apply to my local veterinary practice for work experience whilst I decided on other options. I spent two days a week there for the next six months and was inspired and captivated by it.
How did things progress?
I worked at two different RCVS accredited practices around East Sussex. I started my training at a first opinion small animal practice in 2014 before moving to a larger mixed animal practice dealing with both farm and small animals in 2017. I gained a vast amount of knowledge and expertise, including my day one competencies, but wanted to challenge myself further. So, I undertook the Nurses certificate in Small Animal Anaesthesia to develop my skills as anaesthesia is one of the nurses’ main roles in practice.
And what prompted the move to Vets Now?
I enjoyed the fast-paced ECC side of my role in first opinion practice but wasn’t getting to be part of the action as much as I had hoped. I’d spend a large part of my day monitoring anaesthesia on routine neutering procedures, which wasn’t stimulating my brain. I enjoy emergency-based anaesthesia, and working in a primarily ECC setting seemed the best way to use my extended skills and knowledge. So, I came to Vets Now in December 2021.
How would you describe an average night?
My shift starts at 6.30 pm, but I usually like to arrive around 6 pm to do things like setting up our equipment. During an emergency, there is no time to scramble around searching for equipment or medication that you urgently need. At 6.30 pm, the phones are switched over, and we operate the overnight OOH service for about 25 practices in the surrounding area. The patient handover also begins then from the host practice to our team.
Our busiest time is usually up to midnight, and it’s not uncommon to have 10 unwell patients travelling to the clinic at one given time. Dogs who may require emergency surgical intervention include pregnant bitches who are unable to give birth, or you might have a male feline patient unable to urinate because of an obstruction. It can be a very fast-paced and adrenaline-filled environment, but I enjoy that work style. It keeps my brain active and, therefore, able to respond to life-threatening situations quickly.
What’s the best bit about the job?
There is nothing more heartfelt and satisfying than seeing a patient make that journey of recovery from sickness to health. It is definitely the most rewarding part of the role and is why I do what I do. Sometimes that journey is quick, sometimes it can take longer, depending on the condition they have presented with. The feeling that I have personally made a difference in that patient’s life and seeing the smile on the owner’s face when their pet is discharged to them back to full health is so gratifying. That’s what has kept me in this profession for nearly a decade.
What’s the bond with the team like?
There is a much smaller team of people during the night shift than you would expect to see in a daytime hospital, but I prefer it this way. At times there can be just one vet, one nurse, and an ACA. Being part of a smaller team means I now have more roles and responsibilities than ever before, and I enjoy the challenge that a smaller team brings.
As the nature of our role can be an emotional rollercoaster at times, it is really important to find the time to bond together. You work with people from various walks of life with different experiences, specialities and interests. So, any spare few moments are spent learning something interesting about your team members. There is always a new story to be told or a laugh to be shared together at 4 am when the chaos has finally subsided for a minute or two!
A veterinary clinic is all about teamwork, you physically can't function without a team around you. And that’s even more important at Vets Now, which is such an emergency, fast-paced environment.
How’s the work-life balance?
Although I work longer hours than I used to in my previous job, my work-life balance is far greater than ever. My previous jobs often required me to work six days a week with added on-call out-of-hours work in addition to this. My work is now condensed into just three days so I have much more time and energy to dedicate to the things I love. Spending time with my partner, friends, and family is definitely high up on my list of priorities – especially after Covid. My partner and I love travelling and exploring new places, so I can pack many more of these trips into our life with my new rota.
You see plenty of animals at work, what about at home?
We have a black Labrador, Evie, and she also benefits from all my time off, enjoying more exercise than ever before! We love long walks over the South Downs, and she never passes the chance for a dip in the sea – not for me though, it’s far too cold! I also have a young and mischievous domestic short-haired cat named Trevor, who my partner and I rescued from the RSPCA when he was four months old. He is black and white and literally looks like he is wearing a tuxedo. He is very photogenic and is currently signed with a modelling agency. We both enjoy making fun and educational videos for his social media platform.