Posted March 28, 2024
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Tiffany Burk

By guest author Tiffany Burk (BS, LVT '09, Alumni Advisory Council member)

Veterinarians and veterinary nurses play a crucial role in the health and well-being of our animal companions, but they couldn’t do it without a team-centered bond that begins early on the classroom floor. Veterinary nurses are an essential component of the veterinary team. This is because they provide invaluable support for their doctors and medical care team. Veterinary nurses do this all while continuing to provide our furry family members with the very best of what modern veterinary medicine can offer.

A Marriage of Skills

One key reason why the development of this bond starts before the teaching hospital floor, before the private practice, is that veterinarians’ and veterinary nurses’ skills, expertise, and knowledge are specifically designed to complement each other in the classroom setting. Key complementary skills and a team-centered learning and working environment is what propels our student population to successful post-graduate working relationships. Building a working relationship between the veterinary nurse and veterinarian begins where students receive hands-on training and mentorship from experienced professionals. This early exposure helps the students understand the importance of teamwork, communication, and mutual respect in providing optimal patient care. After graduation, veterinary nurses continue to collaborate with veterinarians throughout daily working life to contribute to the overall success of the entire medical team.

Veterinarians have learned and fine-tuned a wide variety of skills early in their education to treat various medical conditions, while veterinary nurses have built foundational skillsets to be the perfect hands-on support. This intentionally designed collaboration allows for more efficient and effective ways to treat patients and provide client education, and it ultimately leads to the best possible outcomes for our patients and clients. This bond that is so richly nurtured in the university setting should be prioritized, so that it can grow and flourish post-graduation.

Professional Growth as a Veterinary Nurse

In recognizing the value of this bond, it becomes clear that the veterinary nurse is the perfect bridge between patients/pet owners and veterinarians. This bridge is kept strong after graduation by allowing veterinary nursing teams to continue to learn, grow, and develop in their post-graduate life. As veterinary medicine changes and advances, it has offered veterinary nurses a variety of alternative career choices, such as teaching, working in industry, research, practice management, practice consulting, and even specializing. Throughout the career of the veterinary nurse, there is a unique opportunity to chase their dreams. Adjunct career opportunities often present themselves so that veterinary nurses can work on a hospital floor in addition to pursuing other passions. These open doors and progression of medicine has led to a pivotal lasting impact in the field of veterinary medicine.

The Value of Staying Connected

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Tiffany Burk with her practice owners, Bruce Francke (DVM '91 and Alumni Advisory Council member) and Steve Van Ochten (DVM '95)

After teamwork and mentorship have been established, how can veterinarians and veterinary nurses continue to grow and learn? As veterinary professionals forge their career paths, staying connected with the College’s alumni base can provide a wealth of benefits. By remaining actively connected with our College community as alumni, you will be able to stay updated on the latest advancements in veterinary medicine, network with clinicians and nurses, mentor current students, and re-engage with your alumni peers. The journey of teamwork starts before graduation, while the journey of alumni collaboration begins as you leave the classroom and teaching hospital floor. The Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine supports team-centered relationships before and after graduation. This helps us achieve our goals so that individual successes can be celebrated, the veterinary team can continue to impact modern veterinary medicine, and we can journey into tomorrow together as veterinary nurses and doctors knowing we are always supported. As always, we say together: Go Green!