How to Annoy Veterinary Nurses!

“OK class, settle down.  Welcome to your ‘How to Annoy Your Nurses’ lectures.  These will teach you invaluable skills for your career in practice.

Now obviously veterinary nurses are a vital part of our teams, without them we absolutely couldn’t do our jobs.  Just consider these techniques as simply substantiating that fact.  In demonstrating your sheer hopelessness at certain tasks, you are merely highlighting their significant superiority in much of practice life and thus reinforcing their own levels of self-confidence and proving their indispensability.

Really, you will be doing them a favour.

The ringing phone

Obviously it is every practice members job to ensure that the phone is answered quickly and certainly if you aren’t doing anything at the time, you must, of course, pick up the receiver.  However, if you are in conversation with a colleague, especially if it isn’t a medical matter and particularly if that person is a nurse, you must tune out the shrill ring and continue to chat blithely about unimportant matters.

Then watch as they first try to carry on with you, then start to twitch, then begin backing away towards the nearest handset, and finally, when they can take it no longer, make a headlong dive to answer it.

It is absolutely vital you pretend you don’t notice their increasing distress and do pick up the gossip exactly where you left off once they have finished and now probably have something else to do.

ringing phone

Can you hear that? Nope, me neither!


Never have a pen

Or a pair of scissors, or nail clippers, or a calculator, or any of the small, but vital utensils we often require.  Nurses seem to emerge from the womb with pockets full of useful stuff that we can ‘borrow’ and then never return.

Work on your politest asking voice and ingratiating smile but also on your light-fingered thieving skills, because once the relevant kit has been proffered, you must then use it and instantly lose it.  Which brings us neatly to the next point……

Losing things

Putting stuff down and then wandering off and forgetting where it is another core competency and can be used in so many situations; stethoscopes are the classic but don’t forget formularies, bandaging equipment, and even instruments on a surgical tray only 30cm square.

Less experienced members of the team are likely to leap instantly to your aid but older, more cynical, nurses may well stand back and insist you find it yourself and say that it must be ‘where you left it’.  However, don’t give in.  Keep whining and appear maximally pathetic, they too will eventually cave and locate said ‘thing ‘for you.

Don’t forget the finding of the ‘thing’, despite their theatrical irritation at your hopelessness, will induce an incomparable feeling of smugness, and thus your work is done.

Having a vet look

Which leads us to the all important ‘vet look’.  Here nurses are often complicit in the charade, taking great pleasure in hiding stuff behind other stuff and regularly moving the contents of cupboards around using the handy excuses of ‘organising’ and ‘tidying’.

It is imperative you have actually made an effort to find whatever it is you want but don’t try too hard.  Nurses need to feel needed and this is the perfect opportunity to help them with that.  Remember to be suitably sheepish when they locate the item and thank them profusely.

A top tip; this takes it’s maximum effect if the ‘thing’ is positioned in a deceptively obvious position, ideally ‘right under your nose’.  Yes, you will look (a little) stupid but remember this is all for the greater good.

Be messy

You know that moment when a nurse enters a room and exclaims ‘this place looks like a bomb’s hit it!!’?  (Usually when there is only a couple of syringe packets lying about and the clippers are on the table)  Well, take the opportunity to give yourself a pat on the back and consider it a job well done!  There is nothing RVNs love more than cleaning up after you and grumbling about it, who doesn’t love a good moan?!

However, there is an art to this, don’t be a complete sloven, do make an effort to tidy up, you just mustn’t be too good at it.  If it is clear you have tried but simply aren’t up to your nurses exacting (obsessive) standards, this will induce feelings of exasperation but also of just enough pity to ensure that you are forgiven.

If your consult room looks like this, clear away a couple of things but remember to leave one or two in place for your nurses to huff over.

If your consult room looks like this, clear away a couple of things but remember to leave one or two in place for your nurses to huff over.


That’s it for today class!  In our next lecture we will be covering; hiding from clients in the back and making the nurses deal with them, being terrible at mopping and asking them for help with a patient just when they are in the middle of an important task or about to leave for the day.

See you there!”

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