Animal Nurse: Job Description, Duties, Salary and Outlook
Animal nurses - otherwise known as veterinary technicians, technologists or assistants - work alongside veterinarians in veterinary offices, animal hospitals and research laboratories. Although this career may be appealing to animal lovers, this job involves physically hazardous and emotionally challenging aspects. Read on for an overview of this career.
Job Description for Animal Nurses
As part of the veterinary staff, animal nurses help diagnose, treat and monitor animal patients while licensed veterinarians supervise their work. They can assist with all aspects of an animal's medical care - including dental work - and train other staff members. Most animal nurses tend to work with either small or large animals, but rarely with both. In research settings, they may conduct medical tests on animals that may lead to findings that ultimately benefit both animal and human health.
Duties of Animal Nurses
In clinics, animal nurses collect and prepare laboratory samples, conduct intake of patients, take x-rays and assist with laboratory tests. They care for hospitalized animals, monitoring their condition and ensuring that they get proper nutrients and hydration. For surgeries, animal nurses set up surgical instruments, anesthetize animals and conduct post-surgical clean up. They also keep inventory of medications and maintain records. For seriously ill animals, they may perform emergency procedures, and sometimes, euthanize them.
Animal nurses in research facilities work with veterinarians and other scientists in conducting research experiments. They typically observe laboratory animals and record vital statistics as well as test information. As in clinical settings, their job also involves the general daily care of laboratory animals.
Animal Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinary technicians and technologists had a median annual salary of $29,280 and a mean annual salary of $30,580 as of May 2009 (www.bls.gov). Due to the increased willingness of pet owners to pay for veterinary care, the BLS estimated the job outlook for animal nurses to increase well above the average growth for all national occupations. Between 2008 and 2018, the BLS research showed an expected 36% increase in jobs for veterinary technicians and technologists. This high rate was also predicted to be due to the relatively low amount of veterinary technology graduates every year.
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