Episode Ten: Carol - Surgical Nursing Trailblazer

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In this episode I went to Melbourne and had the absolute pleasure of meeting Carol Bradley. From humble beginnings as a kennel maid in 1973 Carol worked all the way up to her current role teaching and training vet students at the University of Melbourne. Carol is a Tutor in small animal surgery, and the Veterinary Skills Centre Manager and Nurse Educator. When it comes to teaching vet students Carol is also responsible for lectures and practical class supervision in the surgical discipline with a focus on aseptic and operating room technique, instruments, biomaterials, suture technique, the sterilizing process, and approach to basic surgical procedures.

In Carol’s career she’s been a bit of a trailblazer in raising standards in veterinary surgical nursing, including being the first vet nurse to gain her qualification in cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization at the human hospital standard. She was also the first vet nurse to be given an academic position in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne.


Carol is a popular speaker on the veterinary circuit, has a long list of publications, and even invented the Bradley Cat Lap drape. Carol loves innovation. She’s a great advocate for vet nurses and for lifelong learning; currently studying a postgrad certificate in Infection Prevention and Control through Griffith University. Not only was Carol just a delight to meet and interview, she also shared a lot of really useful, and practical, evidence based information. We’ve already made improvements at Ready Vet on the basis of what Carol had to say. As always I’ve tried to put links in the show notes to everything we discussed, so if you find yourself frantically reaching for your pen head to radiovetnurse.com and check the show notes for this episode.  

We discussed:

  • The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses USA

  • Carol was the first veterinary nurse to apply and successfully pass the Certificate III in Health (Sterilizing for Technicians), applying the Australian & New Zealand Standard 4187 “Cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing reusable medical and surgical instruments and associated equipment, and maintenance of associated environments and health care facilities”, making it the first Veterinary Teaching Hospital to align with human hospital standards in the faculty’s hospital’s Central Sterilizing Service Department.

  • In 2013 Carol was awarded her Associate Fellow in the Higher Education Academy (Veterinary Education) from the Royal Veterinary College, London.

  • Carol is currently studying a Postgraduate Certificate in Infection Prevention Control through Griffith University.

  • In 2008 Carol designed a range of single use veterinary surgical drapes for the largest Australian hospital supplies manufacturer, Defies Industries. The Bradley Cat Lap drape is still in use via Provet.

  • Carol’s recommendations for sterilizers:

    • Prevacuum sterilizers are better (than downwards displacement sterilizers) for hollow items and faster turnaround.

    • Mediquip or Device Technologies for a nice little benchtop sterilizer – must have a drying cycle.

    • Atherton for the very large hospital size sterilizer.

    • See also DLC Australia.

  • Recommendations for packaging:

    • Paper bags for soft items (cotton balls, swabs etc, no sharp items).

    • Laminate – window packs. Good for light instruments, not sharp. Small items/sets.

    • Polypropylene wraps/single use wraps. Linen around this if getting excess moisture in chamber.

  • Chlorhexidine is a cationic chemical, povidone-iodine is an anionic chemical and they cancel each other out.