There’s no doubt about the fact that working as a veterinary nurse is certainly hard work, but it’s also very rewarding. It is both stimulating and challenging and something that also requires many different skills. You’ll certainly need a passion for animals, a strong stomach to cope with the unusual sights and smells and the stamina to be on your feet all day.
What does a veterinary nurse’s job involve?
Nurses work with veterinary surgeons in surgery, clinic or hospital to care for sick and injured pets. A typical day’s work could start with cleaning the kennels as well as feeding and treating inpatients.
This is often followed with a hectic clinic where you would be supporting with injections, medical treatments, bandaging and assisting with any operations which are carried out. Animals aren’t just poorly on a nine to five basis, so nursing jobs usually involve evening, weekend as well as Christmas work. You must remember that pets come with owners, so you need to be confident in dealing with people too.
Voluntary work or work experience is a great introduction to nursing is beneficial if you’re looking for your first job in this field.
Training as a veterinary nurse
The current veterinary nursing qualification is the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) level three diploma in veterinary nursing. It can be carried out on either a full-time basis or apprenticeship-style alongside a job in a veterinary practice. It takes between two to three years to qualify. Various universities offer a foundation or BSc honours degree in veterinary nursing as well – contact them directly for entry requirements and prospectuses.
To begin training as a veterinary nurse you often are required to have the following educational qualifications:
- Five GCSEs at grade C and above (or five Scottish Standard Grades one to three) which must include English language, maths and a science subject.
- An animal nursing assistant (ANA) or veterinary care assistant (VCA) qualification, as well as functional skills, level two in the application of number and communication.
The British Veterinary Nursing Association can offer further details about these qualifications and how to attain them.
Other qualifications could be considered acceptable, you’ll have to discuss this with your college or educational facility.
There is no age limit for when you can begin training as a veterinary nurse.
Qualifying as a veterinary nurse
To qualify as a veterinary nurse you must:
- Be enrolled as a student veterinary nurse with the RCVS.
- Attend college-based study for a minimum of 22 weeks over the period of training before exams are sat – usually two years. The college must be approved by the RCVS.
- Complete a minimum of 60 full-time weeks of practical experience within an RCVS registered training practice.
- Compile an electronic nursing progress log (NPL) which provides a complete record of the clinical skills you have learned throughout your training.
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