The Zoological Society of London offer ‘work experience’ placements for veterinary nurses at ZSL London Zoo – These placements are designed to give RCVS listed and registered (qualified and trainee) veterinary nurses an insight into all aspects of the work nurses perform within the zoo environment.
Unlike most small animal Veterinary practices the clinical work is mostly dictated by the collection animals and work load can be highly variable so applicants should be prepared for this. There are many routine procedures that can occupy our time such as health checks on new arrival animals in quarantine, or checks on export animals, to follow up checks on animals on long term medications such as NSAID’s and sexing and micro-chipping of new juveniles for collection management.
Naturally we do get clinically quieter periods where paperwork and general housekeeping can be caught up on. This is all necessary for the day to day running of the department and it is a positive thing as it generally means our animals are healthy! So whilst zoo work can be very exciting and challenging and we do deal with many different species, it is well worth remembering that whilst some days may be busy with tail to tail emergencies and clinical procedures, it can also be quite unpredictable. As nurses that work for ZSL we feel that this keeps the job interesting but this does mean that we can never guarantee what you will get to see during your placement and you may find it very different from General Practice.
Pebbles Wyard one of ZSL’s Work Experience Veterinary Nurses
My two weeks work experience placement within the Veterinary Department at ZSL London Zoo was one of the most rewarding opportunities in my career.
The staff are incredibly friendly and made the experience all the more valuable through their constant willingness to share their extensive experience and knowledge. The opportunity to work with a variety of different species was not only exciting, but it also allowed me to improve and expand my existing nursing skills and knowledge.
The experience was also more hands on than expected, and I was able to take an active role in a variety of procedures, from environmental hygiene and enrichment to assisting anaesthesia in exotic species.
I would definitely encourage Veterinary Nurses who are either interested in this field, or those who are looking to experience something outside of their general practice role, to apply for this placement as it has re-ignited my enthusiasm for my job and has exposed me to a career path that I hope to pursue in the future.