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Hilary Orpet Course Director Foundation & BSc VN

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Blogs & Forums in Veterinary Nursing . To blog or not to blog! . Hilary Orpet Course Director Foundation & BSc VN. Blog .

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Blogs & Forums in Veterinary Nursing

To blog or not to blog!

Hilary Orpet

Course Director

Foundation & BSc VN


“Ablog (a truncation of the expression web log)[1] is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order”

blog forum
Blog forum

All student veterinary nurses are required to become competent in the National Occupational Standards in VN.

This is achieved by electronically logging their experiences via the Nursing Progress Log

As degree students

it was important that

they evidence their

learning from their

practical placements

reflection in the virtual tutor meeting
Reflection…. in the virtual tutor meeting
  • Reflective thinking is a ‘process of reviewing an experience of practice in order to describe, analyse, evaluate and so inform learning about practice’ (Reid 1993)
  • Students are given a ‘blog’ subject every 2 weeks while they are on placement.
  • During the first week they post about their experiences, they then ask a question to their peers in their tutor grp during the 2nd week.
the rolfe model of reflection is used to guide their blogs
The Rolfe model of reflection is used to guide their ‘blogs’
  • What?
    • Describe the procedure and your involvement in the process.
  • So what?
    • Analyse and evaluate the experience.
  • Now what?
    • Synthesise the information and consideralternative courses of action.
variety of topics
Variety of topics
  • First year
    • Related to topics learnt, animal behaviour, nutrition etc.
  • Second year
    • Feedback on previous module
    • Related to role in the practice with regards to anaesthesia, radiography, laboratory.
  • Third year
    • Professional issues, what would they change if they were practice manager etc.
Professional Practice


In the last module, we covered several topics within business and also learnt about future careers, and how to apply for those jobs. Most of the topics covered in the business lectures were completely new to me, ranging from marketing to how to manage your staff. I found the lectures interesting, which if I am honest, surprised me, as I really thought I was not interested at all in any aspect of business. I think it is important for nurses to have an understanding of how the practice works, and perhaps as degree route SVN’s, perhaps we have better employability due to it?

So what?

I think as the business aspect of veterinary nursing was something I hadn’t ever really considered, I found it quite interesting to see how nurses can be more than a head nurse and can be practice managers or even practice principals if they so wish. I think the lectures gave a good base of understanding for the future where being a head nurse may become an option. I also enjoyed the sessions on how to interview, and how staff should be treated, as no matter what level of responsibility you have in the veterinary practice, you should always be professional towards toerh staff members and clients. I think that it is really important for nurses to have a professional image/demeanour as it is often the first and last person a client sees at the vets, and maybe could improve their lasting impression.

Now what?

I would now feel more confident applying for a role as head nurse, as I think I would understand the job role better and understand the responsibilities better. I think I would also be able to bring some ideas to the practice principals and have some business knowledge behind me to say why I thought something would be a good idea.


A good example I found in practice of animal behaviour was when we were restraining and handling a cat in the prep room to take bloods and fit a catheter. The cat was very stressed and not at all friendly. Another nurse was restraining it's front legs and head, and i was holding the back legs. We were doing our best to talk to the cat, reassuring it and trying to relax it. Things were made worse when a vet, who didn't realise we were handling a scared cat, walked into the prep room with a dog; this resulted in both me and the other nurse getting scratched.

So what?

We asked the vet to remove the dog from the prep room as it was making the cat feel more stressed and scared. We released our hands from the cat, but still kept it under control on the table. Sometimes less is more when it comes to restraining cats. The best thing for the cats and also our safety was to wrap it up in a towel. A towel is good to make the cat feel secure and safe and also take away all the sharp bits from scratching us. When the cat was wrapped up in the towel, it was more calm and we were able to do what we needed. On Monday, a veterinary nurse, with a degree in feline medicine, was doing a tour of all vets of the west country. In the demonstration, she explained cat behaviour and the best thing vet nurses and vets could do was to keep calm, talk to the cat, and always have a towel out to use straight away.

Now what?

We took that advice on board and now whenever a cat comes in to the practice, to have bloods taken or to have a catheter placed, we use a towel. With the scared cat I used in my example we should have shut the dog ward door, so it couldn't hear any dogs, let the vets know we were dealing with a frightened cat, and kept everyone and everywhere as quiet as possible. From now on if we are having to deal with a very frightened cat we try to make the experience as least stressful as possible. If we have a cat in the prep room who is scared, one of the nurses will stand in the dog ward to make sure they don't bark. A blanket is also placed on the door of the cats kennel to make it feel more secure and calm. Cats are independant animals that can easily fell threatened so we should try our best as vet nurses to make them fell safe and relaxed, as a relaxed cat is much easier to treat.

  • Heath (1998). Keeping a reflective practice diary: a practical guide. Nurse Education Today18(7): 592-598.
  • Reid (1993). ‘But we're doing it already!’ Exploring a response to the concept of Reflective Practice in order to improve its facilitation. Nurse Education Today13(4): 305-309.
  • Wetmore et al (2010) Reflective Blogs in Clinical Education to Promote Critical Thinking in Dental Hygiene Students. Journal of Dental Education. 74(12): 1337- 1350.
  • Xie et al (2007) The effect of peer feedback for blogging on college students' reflective learning processes. Internet and Higher Education 11:18-25