Training to become a Veterinary Nurse
Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing - This qualification comprises a core and two option pathways, one in small animal nursing and one in equine nursing. You must complete the core units and an optional pathway in order to gain the Diploma.
Students will attend college, and/or be undertaking college-directed studies, for a minimum of 22 weeks over the period of training, which will normally be two years. Some colleges will offer part-time courses that will run for three years. Courses are run in a number of ways, for example blocks of study, regular weekly study days or a mix of blocks and weekly days.
If you are already employed (or have the offer of a job) in a veterinary practice you will train as an apprentice, which means you carry on with your normal job as a student VN and attend college alongside. If you join a course as a full-time student you will undertake clinical placements (arranged by your college) in veterinary practices. These placements may be unpaid. Whether you are an apprentice or a full-time student you must complete at least 60 full-time weeks (or the part-time equivalent) of work experience in a training practice.
Your work based clinical skills will be recorded using an electronic Nursing Progress Log (NPL). Your NPL will provide a record of all the clinical skills you have learned, practised and reached competence in.
You will also undertake a number of different examinations and assessments which will include written and practical examinations, college examinations and assignments and work based assessments.
Alternatively, you can undertake a Veterinary Nursing Foundation or BSc Honours Degree. Training takes between three and four years depending on the type of course you choose.
Examination for the VN Degree varies depending on the course provider, but will include written and practical exams and a collection of work-based evidence.
List of RCVS Approved Qualifications in Veterinary Nursing
The below link provides information on the organisations offering qualifications that are approved by the RCVS as a "licence to practise" in veterinary nursing.
Looking for a Position
Veterinary Nursing is a popular career choice to people of all ages. There is no age limit on when you can become a veterinary nurse and there are many excellent RVNs who didn't enter the profession until later in life.
It can be difficult securing a position in a Training Practice (TP). People may find the lack of student places available and the fierce competition for them frustrating at times.
Many veterinary practices choose existing staff members for student placements and so you may have to accept a ward assistant or receptionist role to enable you to get a little experience before you are successful in finding a student position.
Volunteering and work experience may be available and this will allow you to demonstrate your commitment to a prospective employer and enhance your CV. Similarly a related academic qualification such as the ANA or VCA will give you an advantage when applying for a student position.
A list of current approved Training Practice's (TP's) can be obtained from the RCVS website http://awardingbody.rcvs.org.uk/employers/approved-training-practices/
If you are interested in becoming a veterinary nurse why not join the BVNA as an Associate Member? You can take advantage of the membership benefits, including the monthly VNJ, which carries a wealth of information about veterinary nursing. It also has a classified section which is free of charge to members and may be used to find a vacancy.