BVNA Position Statements
On this page you can read BVNA policies and position statements.
Please click on the topics below for the BVNA’s official stance on certain topics of importance to Veterinary Nurses and practice staff.
With respect to the ongoing Schedule 3 review, BVNA feels that Registered Veterinary Nurses should be acknowledged separately to that of unqualified staff, in recognition of our professional standards, Code of Conduct, and Associate membership with the RCVS.
BVNA does not feel there should be a dramatic increase in any specific allowance of surgical procedures at registration, however, we do feel that with a development of post-registration advanced qualifications then RVN’s could conduct certain procedures such as dental extractions and epidural/other local blocks (this should be a recognised qualification rather than CPD; however well accredited it is) .
RVN's should be able to induce anaesthesia; as previously approved by the RCVS standards, again this depends on qualification rather than CPD.
BVNA strongly feels that the wording in Schedule 3 should not specifically refer to competency as this guidance is already set out for VNs (as it is for VSs) in the Code of Conduct.
However, BVNA would like to have better clarity with regards to the Schedule 3 guidance notes for both the professions to have a clearer definition of “body cavity” and a recognition of the various expertise a Registered Veterinary Nurse could have after completing post-registration qualifications.
There has been considerable debate over the past year in reference to the Companion animal only, Suitably Qualified Person (C-SQP) qualification, being added into the current veterinary nursing syllabus. The BVNA's recent survey showed that 89.8 % of nurses do agree that it should be incorporated into their portfolio.
Adding this qualification isn't as straight forward as one may think; AMTRA is the awarding body for the SQP qualifications; therefore there would be two codes of practice to follow:
The RVN would need to question which code would take preference! In addition there would have to be separate assessment to define which will create higher costs to the student and college. When questioning the actual need for the C-SQP in practice, it will come down to that individual practice and their requirements. Currently there are 10 products that can be prescribed by a qualified C-SQP - these are in three drug categories. This would be valid only if a practice has a consulting nurse who, on a day to day basis, prescribes this type of medication. The J-SQP (Equine) has a greater demand in mixed and equine practices.
The C-SQP qualification is 5 credits, this equates to 50 hours additional studying on advanced pharmacology, which will mean additional pressure on an already compact syllabus.
The BVNA appreciates that the RVN's have extensive knowledge on pharmaceuticals via their current VN training; however, adding the C-SQP qualification is not justifiable and should be acquired as an additional qualification.
Reviewed March 2015
There are a number of behaviour courses available to the general public and marketed directly to veterinary nurses. These courses can be expensive and some may come with the promise of ‘qualifications such as ‘diploma’ or ‘certificates’. The BVNA advises that anyone interested in undertaking CPD or additional study within the behaviour field should research the course thoroughly to ensure it meets with their own personal learning objectives and career prospects.
When researching courses key points would be to investigate:
- Tutors are appropriately qualified (with recognised qualifications)
- Tutors are a member of a professional organisation that promotes evidence based practice, humane and ethical training methods.
- If advertised as a qualification (rather than CPD) - check who accredits it and if it sits on the national qualification framework.
The BVNA are a member of (and working with) the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) which has been established as a self-regulatory body for behaviour and training. ABTC aims to oversee and monitor standards of professional competence in the practice of behaviour therapy and training of animals. BVNA advises that anyone wishing to enter the industry should be aware of the differing levels of practitioner standards and seek a course relevant to the level and standards they wish to work at.
ABTC promote high quality, relevant behaviour and training education and will soon be providing a list of approved course providers that have had the above mentioned checks, giving you the reassurance that they are quality courses. The ABTC work to coordinate the activities of organisations directly engaged in the promotion of such standards within different areas of this sector and lists of member organisations, and listed members can be located on their website www.abtcouncil.org.uk.
Bully: A person who deliberately intimidates or persecutes others.
Many of us think that the days of bullies are over when we leave the school playground. Reality shows that this is far from the truth. The BVNA recognises that bullying is a serious problem in many workplaces and the veterinary profession is no exception. Bullying may take many forms, and can come from senior management or colleagues. No one should have to put up with bullying and should be taken seriously by the practice.
The BVNA is there to support its members, so if you’d like to discuss any problems you’re having at work, do get in touch, members may also speak to the Members Advisory Service for expert legal advice.
Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01279 408644
Reviewed March 2015
Veterinary nurses will play an important part in the drive to ensure dogs across the country are microchipped in line with the new government legislation coming into force in April 2016. Registered Veterinary Nurses are exempt from compulsory microchipping training if they are acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon (under the remit of schedule 3). Registered veterinary nurses that wish to microchip independently (i.e. as a side business or for a voluntary organisation) must be aware of the legislative changes and refer to the information below.
The BVNA wish to remind all Registered Veterinary Nurses that in order to be deemed competent under the terms of the RCVS Professional Code of Conduct they should be able to evidence details of the microchip training they have attended or they should update their skills.
Government legislation on compulsory microchipping for all dogs in England comes into force from 6th April 2016. Every dog owner has a responsibility to ensure that their dog(s) are microchipped and that details of ownership and contact details are up to date and registered on the appropriate database. The legislation aims to protect dog welfare and encourage responsible ownership as well as reuniting lost or stolen pets with their owners.
However, the following government regulations are already in place and came into force on 24th Feb 2015. They state that no person may implant a microchip into a dog unless:
- they are a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon;
- they are a student of veterinary surgery or a student veterinary nurse and in either case acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon;
- they have been satisfactorily assessed on a training course approved by the Secretary of State for that purpose; or
- before the day on which these Regulations come into force, they received training on implantation which included practical experience of implanting a microchip.
The government regulations state that no person may implant a microchip in a dog unless they are a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse acting under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why have these regulations regarding implanters come into force?
Ultimately the regulations are a welfare measure for reuniting lost pets and traceability. However the regulations will link microchip, implantation standards, adverse reaction reporting and database operator standards from 6 April 2015.
I’m a nurse and would like to microchip independently at my local dog training club, is this allowed?
If you received training before the day on which the regulations came into force (24.02.15) you may continue to implant microchips provided you have received official training that included practical experience of implanting a microchip and you can evidence this.
If you cannot evidence any official and practical training you must complete and be satisfactorily assessed on a training course which has been approved by the secretary of state.
Generally, microchip suppliers only provide microchips to people for whom they have provided implantation training or to veterinary practices.
Implanters are governed to only implant ISO 11784/11785 approved microchip transponders and must keep detailed records of all microchip implantations and must report any adverse reactions direct to the secretary of state.
If I’m an RVN surely I have the skills to do this independently (without the direction of a veterinary surgeon)?
The veterinary nursing qualification and occupational standards do not cover the depth of knowledge and understanding of this new qualification and is not covered within the veterinary nursing day one competencies; therefore the VN qualification alone would not to be considered as evidence of training.
If I want to undertake formal training and complete a course that allows me to implant independently where can I find more information?
LANTRA developed the occupational standards and were the first awarding organisation to offer the course. For more information on organisations offering the course associated with LANTRA visit http://www.lantra.co.uk/
The awarding body Vetskill also offer a secretary of state approved course http://www.vetskill.co.uk/course/microchipping/
I have been asked to microchip dogs in practice, but I am not confident with the procedure, what should I do?
Registered Veterinary Nurses are regulated and accountable professionals. If an individual RVN did not consider him or herself to be competent they should not undertake microchipping without additional training.
It should be noted that the microchipping of any species other than cats and dogs, rabbits and ferrets is an Act of Veterinary Surgery, and therefore these species should ONLY be microchipped by a qualified Veterinary Surgeon.
BVNA recommends that dogs and cats should be fed a safe, nutritionally complete and balanced diet suitable for the life stage and energy requirements of that individual.
BVNA recommends that nutritional advice is sought from appropriately trained people, including Registered Veterinary Nurses. BVNA recommends that the recipe for any raw and unconventional diet should be prepared in consultation with a veterinary nutritionist. The use of unregulated internet sites as a source of recipes for a raw diet should be avoided.
Veterinary Nurses should always consider all available scientific evidence when recommending different diets to clients. When making a specific dietary recommendation, particularly in relation to the feeding of a veterinary therapeutic diet, this must be done in consultation with, and under the direction of, a Veterinary Surgeon.
With respect to diets containing raw ingredients (especially those containing meat and meat products) BVNA strongly recommends that RVNs offer hygiene and safe handling advice to clients. Furthermore, any RVN who is discussing raw diets should ensure that they give written information and guidance to their clients and verify clients’ understanding. RVNs should also ensure accurate record keeping by documenting the advice supplied to clients on their pet’s record.
Where there are children, elderly or immune compromised adults in the household, medical advice should be sought before feeding a raw based food to pets.
The BVNA considers healthy debate on pet care issues to be good for the welfare of animals. With regards to the raw meaty bones debate we must concur with the BVA guidance, as follows.
BVA guidance - key facts:
Commercially-prepared pet foods have been scientifically formulated to contain the optimum balance of essential dietary nutrients for each species. Some commercial pet foods have been designed to satisfy the requirements of certain types of dog or their different activities or the specialised dietary needs of animals with a range of illnesses. The use of such diets over the past decades likely accounts for the increased health and longevity of companion animals.
These commercial diets are based on extensive research, performed both “in-house” and in collaboration with veterinary schools. Much of this research is published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. By contrast, there is no scientific evidence base to support the benefits of just feeding raw meat and bones.
Dogs and cats may be fed with home-prepared ‘natural diets’, but it is very important to achieve the optimum balance of requisite nutrients in this fashion.
The feeding of raw meat and bones, especially small cooked sharp or splintered bones, to companion animals carries particular risks. This includes infection with pathogenic bacteria associated with uncooked meats (e.g. Salmonella, Campylobacter) and injury (e.g. intestinal perforation) caused by bone fragments. The BSAVA (the BVA’s relevant specialist division) advises against the feeding of raw meat or bones to companion animals for this reason.
The RMB lobby proposes that the feeding of bones is beneficial to oral health (teeth and gums). Although providing large raw marrow bones may be beneficial as something to chew, similar benefits may be achieved by feeding of purpose designed kibble food or dental chews, without the attendant risk of damage (e.g. fractures) of the teeth.
The BVNA agrees with the other veterinary bodies and indeed the RCVS guidance that tail docking should only be used for prophylactic purposes, and not cosmetic reasons. Veterinary nurses should be responsible for their practice and should raise their concerns with the veterinary surgeon if they are not comfortable assisting with any particular procedure. Although still working under the direction of the veterinary surgeon, with the advent of voluntary regulation veterinary nurses should not carry out procedures that they consider to be unethical, illegal or outside their competence. Guidance on tail docking and other regulatory matters can be sought from the RCVS: www.rcvs.org.uk
Reviewed March 2015
Tonic Immobility, often referred to as "Trancing" or "Hypnotising", is a technique for handling rabbits that has been around for many years.
It takes advantage of the rabbit's tendency, as a prey species, to "play dead" and stay immobile when placed in a vulnerable position, on its back. In studies, behavioural observation (facial expression, ear position etc) and physiological monitoring (heart rate and stress hormone levels) suggest that the rabbits are both well aware of their surroundings, and are exhibiting a fear response rather than being calmed by the position. It is also very important to note that, even if they do not react, they are still perfectly capable of feeling pain. Although the resulting immobility makes procedures easier for the owner, and repeated use appears to make it easier to perform in the rabbit, it is not good welfare practice to use this technique in prey species. There are some circumstances (for example, non painful procedures such as radiography in sick rabbits with possible gastrointestinal obstruction), where it can allow diagnostic xrays to be taken, and it can then literally be a lifesaver to have the option. However, this should be as a last resort, and not as part of a routine groom or check up by pet owners, and should only be undertaken by veterinary professionals in a safe and controlled environment. For these reasons, we do not recommend its use for grooming purposes.
BVNA suggest that patient clinical notes should be annotated to reflect the fact that tonic immobility was used as a restraint technique and the clinical reason that this method of restraint was chosen.
The BVNA endeavours to act in the best interests of veterinary nurses and support staff at all times, representing their views and influencing decisions, as well as providing a community for veterinary nurses, a helpline and point of contact for all VNs and practice staff.
The BVNA also provides CPD and information, and believes that veterinary nurses and support staff are absolutely crucial to the success of veterinary practice in the future, as well as the welfare of animals.
Veterinary nurses and support staff have a hugely important role to play in veterinary practice, and these roles are continually growing and evolving in a changing veterinary profession, with possibilities of full regulation and specialisation. These are exciting times for veterinary nurses in particular and we will work hard to ensure that the veterinary nurse continues to play a central role in veterinary practice, and receives just recognition in the future.
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