British Veterinary Nursing Association Position Statement
The role of Veterinary Nurses in veterinary practice
The role of a veterinary nurse is to provide skilled supportive care for sick animals. It takes two years to train to become a qualified veterinary nurse (VN/RVN) and once qualified, a nurse can perform certain procedures, such as medical treatment or minor surgery (not involving entry into a body cavity) as described in the Veterinary Surgeon's Act 1966 (Schedule 3). Veterinary Nurse’s are highly committed professionals and must pay an annual fee to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to ensure they are registered on the RCVS list or register of Veterinary Nurses.
A student nurse has to be enrolled with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and working towards qualification. Student nurses can perform certain tasks described in the Veterinary Surgeon's Act 1966 (Schedule 3), under veterinary supervision.
The British Veterinary Nursing Association advocates that all veterinary nurses working in practice should be qualified veterinary nurses or student nurses working towards qualification.
In the past individuals have been employed by veterinary practices without the academic qualifications that are required to enroll on the veterinary nursing course. Historically those individuals learned ‘on the job’ and many became very competent. However, the tasks they could legally perform were always very limited. In the eyes of the law, those individuals can not perform medical or surgical veterinary treatments until they gain the academic qualifications they need and enter upon a period of training as a veterinary nurse.
The British Veterinary Nursing Association is fully committed to ensuring that its qualified members deliver the best nursing care possible to their patients. It supports the RCVS proposal to introduce statutory regulation for those individuals who have this responsibility in veterinary practice but is aware that there is little likelihood that this will become a reality for some time due to the lack of opportunity for the introduction of a new Veterinary Surgeon’s Act.
The non-statutory register is to be applauded as an interim stage however it cannot facilitate full protection of veterinary patients due to the present lack of regulation of those non-qualified individuals who are employed to fulfill the nursing role in some veterinary practices. There is no doubt that some of these individuals have gained considerable experience in providing nursing care and this experience should not be discounted however it is only with a statutory register that full accountability can be facilitated and this must be the goal to ensure that clients and their pets receive the support and care that they expect.
To see other reactions from other veterinary organisations please visit the following links
- Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
- British Small Animal Veterinary Association
- British Veterinary Association
You can also see the Medivet response.