From Animal Attendant to Team Leader: Our Journey in Emergency Vet Nursing.

Animal Attendant AREC Emergency and Critical Care Vet Newcastle NSW
Discover how AREC nurtures their team to progress from Animal Attendants to Emergency & Critical Care Nurses.

In the world of veterinary medicine, the path to becoming a skilled and confident Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) nurse is often unique and challenging. At the Animal Referral and Emergency Centre (AREC), we believe in nurturing our team members from their very first steps in the clinic, guiding them as they progress from Animal Attendants to accomplished ECC nurses. This journey not only builds technical expertise but also fosters confidence and leadership skills.

Both Candice and Erin have experienced this transformative journey firsthand. Starting as Animal Attendants, they were able to gradually acclimate to the high-paced, high-pressure environment of a 24-hour veterinary clinic. Their stories highlight the importance of building a strong foundation, allowing them to develop the necessary skills and confidence to thrive in emergency veterinary nursing. Read on to learn more about how AREC’s supportive environment and structured progression paths have empowered them to become Team Leaders and senior ECC nurses.

Candice Animal Attendant AREC Emergency Vet Newcastle

Candice’s perspective:

“Now, as a Team Leader and one of the Senior Vet Nurses, I am grateful for the opportunity to discover how different Emergency Vet Nursing is compared to General Practice Vet Nursing. My expertise in Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) Nursing developed gradually, allowing me to build up the skills and confidence to continue my career at AREC.” – Candice, AREC Team Leader

Erin Animal Attendant AREC Emergency Vet Newcastle

Erin’s perspective:

I have been nursing for over 15 years. Although I had always been interested in emergency work, I was never in a position to do shift work, and the thought of working in emergency was intimidating. After working in General Practice for almost 13 years, I decided I needed a change. I joined the AREC team at the beginning of 2022 as an Animal Attendant, and now, two years later, I am one of the Team Leaders for our nursing staff.

People often ask why I chose to be an Animal Attendant rather than starting directly as a Nurse. In my previous experience, I always had to jump in and either ‘sink or swim’ in the roles I undertook. I decided to start from the beginning to understand how things work, where things are, and what is involved in being a nurse in such a high-paced, high-pressure environment.

Working only in General Practice hadn’t exposed me to many emergencies, so I didn’t believe I was experienced or knowledgeable enough to start nursing alongside other far more experienced Nurses. Looking back, I am so glad I made this decision, as I could progress at my own pace and not feel overwhelmed having to perform at a certain expected level immediately.

Emergency nursing is much more complex and stressful than regular day-to-day veterinary nursing. The title ‘Animal Attendant’ may not sound appealing to many qualified Nurses, but it doesn’t mean ‘just cleaning and restocking.’ It allows you to work alongside other nurses, assist them and the Vets, be involved with emergencies, and help run blood tests. Being an Animal Attendant doesn’t mean you stay an Animal Attendant forever; it provides you with the experience and gives you the tools and knowledge to make a smooth transition into emergency without feeling like you’re “jumping in the deep end.”


 – Erin, AREC Team Leader


Both Candice and Erin’s journeys highlight the importance of starting from a foundational role to build confidence and expertise in the demanding field of Emergency and Critical Care Nursing. By beginning as Animal Attendants, we were able to understand the nuances of a 24-hour clinic and gradually develop the skills necessary to excel.

Their stories underscore that no matter where you start, dedication and willingness to learn can lead to rewarding and leadership roles in veterinary nursing.

Thought about a career in Emergency and Critical Care Nursing? Explore our current positions available at AREC Careers


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