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SASH Offers Specialist Vet Nurse Training to Meet Pet Boom Demand

Australia’s largest pet hospital meets pet boom demand with specialist vet nurse training

A surge in pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic has placed increased demand on vet services across Australia, with Australia’s largest veterinary hospital, the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH) experiencing a 40 per cent increase in cases over the past two years.

SASH’s emergency department, critical care unit and specialist services treat the country’s most complex and critical cases. Between 2019-2020, SASH saw 16,000 cases at their Sydney facility, and this has grown to 23,000 cases in the past year.

Coinciding with this increased demand, the veterinary industry lost a portion of its work force due to closed international borders and the repatriation of vet nurses from the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand during the pandemic.

In order to meet increasing demand, SASH is delivering an extensive training program on-site to upskill general practice (GP) qualified nurses to work in specialist departments.

SASH’s dedicated Nurse Education LeaderFelica Lowe, says, “We’ve seen huge pressure put on our services in the past two years, and we need more vet nurses for specialist departments working across our hospital to ensure we can provide high levels of care to all our patients.”

Australia doesn’t have a dedicated Vet Nurse degree, only a Certificate IV which provides GP training. We lost a lot of great specialist department vet nurses during COVID, so our training program aims to bridge the gap for newly qualified vet nurses.”

Specialist department vet nurses play a critical part within hospitals and require specific skillsets, whether it be working in surgical nursing, or in emergency and critical care.

The SASH training program is delivered while nurses are working within the hospital to provide hands on experience at all levels of the program while being supervised and assessed to meet learning criteria.

“There are four different stages to the training program, Level 1 which is entry level with a certificate IV to Level 4, which leads to becoming a team leader with extensive experience.”

Kayla-Anne Kingdom is just one of the nurses who has undertaken the SASH specialist department nursing training program.

“I started out as a GP nurse, but I wanted more variety in my work and the opportunity to upskill. It’s been great being part of the training program at SASH as I’ve been able to specialise and become an internal medicine nurse.

Small Animal Specialist Hospital nurses caring for patient in the dialysis room

Specialist department vet nurses become experts in their fields and support the vets to achieve better results for the patients - that’s why it is critical to bridge the gap.
“SASH is so supportive as nurses train. It’s a steep learning curve but the rewards are worth it. I love seeing the difference we make daily,” said Kayla-Anne.
Specialist department veterinary nurses are trained across multiple departments over the course of the year before choosing their niche.

SASH offers a wide range of specialist services including Anaesthesia, Avian & Exotics, Cardiology, Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Medical and Radiation Oncology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Diagnostic Imaging, Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, Surgery and a renowned 24-hour Emergency and Critical Care department.

To hear more about the work that SASH does or their vet nurse training program, visit the SASH website:

MEDIA RELEASE, 4th May 2022

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