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Facing love and loss as a vet nurse

Working as a vet nurse is technically, physically, and emotionally demanding, but for TAFE Queensland student Katie Harris it's a dream come true to work with animals and to be their advocate.

By TAFE Queensland

Katie said if she had to use one word, she would describe veterinary nursing as compassion.

“You certainly need to be a compassionate person to work in this field, not just for the animals but also for the families,” she said.

“There are days in the clinic where you will experience the love and loss of a family losing their beloved pet and it is extremely important to give comfort, respect, and empathy.”

Having to say goodbye to two of her own dogs within 12 months, Katie said she can sympathise with all of the feelings that families go through when losing a pet.

“When I had to say goodbye to my dogs it broke my heart. But I felt like I could use that as a tool to help heal others and to be able to say I’ve been in your shoes, I know how this feels.”

Katie, who is studying a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing (ACM40418) on the Gold Coast, believes one of the privileges of the job is being an advocate for animals.

“As a vet nurse we are in a fortunate position to stand up for animals who don’t have a voice of their own and fight for animal welfare rights, ethical practices, and speak up about industries that take advantage of animals.”

Katie grew up with animals around her and has always been fascinated with the human and animal bond.

“For as long as I can remember I have been intrigued with animal behaviours and wondered if they can communicate which ignited a flame in me to enrol and formally study veterinary nursing ,” she said.

Her advice to anyone thinking about studying veterinary nursing at TAFE Queensland is to go for it if you have the passion to work with animals.

“As a mum of one human, two dogs and two cats, I thought I would be out of my depth or that I would struggle with the workload, but if you’re passionate you will enjoy every lesson and be eager to put theory into practice,” Katie said.

“I love that we get hands-on experience from early on in the course, and opportunities to have discussions in class about assessments.”

Katie is currently doing placement with North Coast Vet surgery at Brunswick Heads while completing her course, and upon graduation her ultimate goal is to work with native wildlife at a sanctuary or zoo.