Registered Veterinary Nurse Gabby in prep with Border Collie patient Wall-e at Fitzpatrick Referrals

Behind the scenes with Prep Nurse Gabby

Published 26.02.19

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in referrals? Registered Veterinary Nurse Gabby Handcock works in our prep team at Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology in Eashing, Surrey.

Gabby has shared in this blog some of the day to day duties and procedures she’s involved with in her role as a prep nurse at the practice.


Our morning usually starts with the first cases getting started for the day, we go down to kennels and see how the patients have done overnight and we bring them to the prep room ready for their procedure.

There are many patients we get involved with from neurological patients that need an MRI, other tests or surgery to orthopaedic patients who need X-rays, CT and surgery too.

Behind the scenes with Prep Nurse Gabby
Registered Veterinary Nurse Gabby in the Advanced Diagnostic Imaging department at Fitzpatrick Referrals

This week I assisted with the anaesthesia, surgical preparations and recovery of a 2-year-old cat with a spinal fracture that had been hit by a car. Jeremy and Ricardo checked the CT and completed the surgery on her spine and I made sure she was comfortable and stable during the CT scan and helped make sure she was clipped and had everything ready for surgery including any medications she needed and monitored her throughout the surgery and the recovery afterwards.


In the afternoon I help make sure the patients that had surgeries in the morning have recovered well and are happily settled in their kennel; after this, I will help with the patients that are ready to have their procedure in the afternoon. Most days are busy as there are a lot of patients to care for!

At the moment, I am learning how to assist with total hip replacement procedures carried out by senior orthopaedic specialists Dr Sarah Girling and Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, so some afternoons I get to scrub into theatre and help the surgeon with the surgical instruments making sure they have all they need to replace the hip, as well as helping with the procedure.


If I am on a late shift, I will be helping with patients that are scheduled to have their surgery in the evening. This involves helping with the anaesthesia, diagnostic imaging and any other tests or surgery the patient is having.

I will also provide care to any patients that have been admitted in the evening as an emergency. Last week I helped with an English Springer Spaniel that came in as an emergency as she could not walk. I helped with the anaesthetic and the MRI, she did not need surgery or other tests, so after the MRI, I made sure she recovered well from her anaesthetic and was comfortable in her kennel.

Behind the scenes with Prep Nurse Gabby
Registered Veterinary Nurse Gabby and Radiographer Felicity observing a patient having an MRI at Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology

Some evenings we help Noel with his surgeries. For these, we will do the anaesthetic, and help with diagnostic imaging, preparation for surgery and then making sure the patient is stable during the surgery and the postoperative period. This can sometimes be challenging as the surgery can be complex and you need to be paying close attention to the patient under anaesthesia and recording their vital parameters and any medications given. There can be a lot going on at once sometimes! But it is worth it when the surgery goes to plan and the patient recovers well.

I really enjoy working in the prep team as every day is different, I am constantly learning new things and the whole team are fantastic to work with!

Our nursing team is currently recruiting. See our latest jobs.

Are you thinking of making the move to referral practice but perhaps aren’t sure if it’s right for you? Fitzpatrick Referrals offers opportunities for registered veterinary nurses to experience a day as a referral nurse at both Eashing and Guildford hospitals.