The future of vet nursing is in safe hands thanks to people like Nurse Sarra!
Our veterinary team wear navy scrubs but you may have spotted a few folks donning the grey scrubs when visiting Lort Smith. These are our Melbourne Polytechnic nurses.
Lort Smith partners with Melbourne Polytechnic to provide clinical placements to students undertaking La Trobe University’s, Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Nursing. This degree program is the first of its kind in Australia and involves a number of suitably qualified and experienced Lort Smith staff being employed sessionally by Melbourne Polytechnic. They act as placement supervisors to help assist the students when at Lort Smith. Nurse Sarra is one such person. She also acts as a clinical coach on days that she is employed by Lort Smith.
Nurse Sarra has worked at Lort Smith for almost seven years. She explains that approximately 80 Melbourne Polytechnic nurses come through our organisation each year.
“As part of their degree, students have a list of skills they need to be competent in before they graduate, such as placing an IV catheter and collecting bloods. Lort Smith helps the students to achieve this during the first two years of their course,” shares Nurse Sarra.
Students shadow experienced vet nurses like Nurse Sarra who help to develop their skills while on placement, facilitate their shifts and are on hand to jump in if there are any issues or questions.
Nurse Sarra thinks the partnership between Lort Smith and Melbourne Polytechnic is valuable because “Nurses are not going to see what they see here, anywhere else. It gives them a really good overview of what the industry can be like. It shows them the different areas they might be interested in such as; emergency, ICU, theatre and exotics. It gives them a great introduction to all the weird and crazy things they would only learn about in a text book.”
She goes on to say that “Melbourne Polytechnic nurses are able to build and develop a broader range of skills at Lort Smith because nurses here are required to know a lot more, and do a lot more.”
“In private practice, if an emergency comes in, you stabilise it and refer it. Whereas with here, the emergency gets thrown at you and you have to deal with it. It’s very intense and very involved,” shares Nurse Sarra.
Nurse Sarra readily admits that she has really high standards, and feels great knowing that she is teaching future vet nurses to possess the same.
“I’ve got this rule that I tell all our first-years… They must put their phones away and pay attention in class because I want them to be the best nurses they can be. If your pet went into hospital you would want the best nurse looking after them. My rule is, ‘if it’s not good enough for my pet then it’s not good enough for someone else’s,’” says Nurse Sarra.
Lort Smith is currently recruiting vet nurses. Nurse Sarra encourages vet nurses to apply because your knowledge base will grow exponentially!
“We’ve got a really good team here. They really care about each other and understand that we all need to work together to look after the animals. We all have that same common goal. It’s the people and the cases that make you want to work at Lort Smith,” shares Nurse Sarra.
When asked about her thoughts on Louisa Lort Smith, Nurse Sarra said, “I admire what she did and the vision that she had. Back in 1936, a lot of people would have looked at her and thought she was crazy because obviously pets weren’t treated like family like they are now. Even today, my family wonder why I’m saving animals when I could be a human nurse. So I imagine back in those times, it would have been worse than that!” laughs Nurse Sarra.
“I believe in what Lort Smith is and why it was created in the first place. I think it’s pretty impressive that we’ve been able to stay around for 85 years being a not-for-profit organisation. What we stand for, the people that we help – that’s quite a feat!”