Every May we celebrate the wonderful work of our dedicated veterinary nurses. The importance of Veterinary Nurses can often go unnoticed, despite the vital work they do to ensure the wellbeing of pets.
The purpose of VNAM is to raise awareness to pet owners and the wider veterinary profession about the importance of the role of veterinary nurses.
What do Veterinary Nurses do?
Veterinary Nurses support owners and offer advice on all aspects of animal care. They deal with vomit, faeces, blood and strange smells, and the role can be emotionally and physically demanding.
A normal day in the life of an RVN is incredibly varied and can involve performing any of the following highly skilled tasks:
- Assisting vets with operations
- Monitoring anaesthetics
- Performing minor surgical procedures (biopsies, suturing wounds, minor lump removal etc)
- Monitoring vital signs (temperature, heart rate, pulse, breathing rate)
- Taking blood samples
- Providing nursing care to patients, e.g. dressing changes, feeding, exercising and grooming
As well as undertaking specialised tasks such as surgical procedures and calculating drug doses, veterinary nurses play an important role in educating pet owners. Nurses offer guidance to support owners on a wide range of topics, including:
- General pet advice (training, behaviour, dental care, health & diet tips)
- Ear cleaning, nail clipping and anal gland emptying
- Dressing changes
- Post-operative check ups
- Weight loss management programmes
How do I become a veterinary nurse?
If you want to work with animals and people, have a caring and sympathetic nature, possess good problem solving skills and don’t mind putting in hard work, you might have the skills to become a veterinary nurse.
The first step to becoming a Veterinary Nurse is to achieve a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including Maths, English and a Science subject.
After achieving your grades, there are two pathways into Veterinary Nursing. You can take a vocational course at college or pursue higher education at university.
College courses are split between the classroom and a vet practice, and require practical work experience, which your college may help you attain. Once completed, you will achieve a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.
University courses are longer and more academically focused. They take between 3-4 years and competition for places is high, so preparing a passionate application can help you stand out.
Regardless of which path you choose, make sure that your course is a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) accredited Veterinary Nursing qualification. Student nurses are required by law to enrol with the RCVS to carry out nursing procedures needed for training.
Once you have completed your training or passed your degree, you’ll be able to register with the RCVS as a Registered Veterinary Nurse. Below is a list of useful resources and information about how to get into Veterinary Nursing:
British Veterinary Nursing Association
RCVS Information for Veterinary Nursing
Veterinary Nursing Training Providers (FE)
Veterinary Nursing Training Providers (HE)
Training Practices in your area
Work experience & learning in the field
Work experience offers an opportunity to be a part of a veterinary team in a working practice. Often, work experience is a requirement for entry into Veterinary Nursing courses. Studying to be a Veterinary Nurse is an intensive process. Getting familiar with the role of a veterinary nurse in a working environment will help you to figure out if you enjoy the work and are suited to it.
This year, the theme of VNAM is sustainability, with the tagline; “I’m a veterinary nurse, and I’m human too!” Each week, the campaign will focus on the 4 different pillars of sustainability (human, economic, environment and social). You can keep up to date with what’s happening on the dedicated BVNA VNAM Facebook page.
Newly qualified? Join the IVC Evidensia Nurse Academy
Our Nurse Academy provides a unique opportunity for newly qualified nurses to join a structured 12 month CPD programme. We value our veterinary nurses so alongside offering competitive minimum starting salary, our Academy Nurses also receive:
- Over 100 hours of CPD worth £2,000
- 12 CPD days out of practice
- Unlimited E-CPD
- BVNA membership & benefits
- Attendance at BVNA Congress
- A dedicated in-practice Nurse Mentor
- Career progression support
Need more info?
If you’re looking to get started in your nursing career, a student nurse looking for work experience or a newly qualified veterinary nurse seeking opportunities, please contact us to find out more.