Further Qualifications and Training after Registration

By Head Nurse Lucy Montague

To stay registered, Veterinary Nurses have to complete 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over a 3 year period. This is generally carried out by attending lectures or undertaking further courses and qualifications.

There are many different courses and further qualifications available at all levels and focussing on different specialised areas of clinical or professional practice. Below are some explanations of a few courses that are available and some interviews with a few of our nurses who have studied them.

Clinical coach

This is a day long course for Veterinary Nurses which enables them to mentor a student veterinary nurse through their training. The course provides training in a wide range of subjects so that the nurse has all the information they need to train their student. This nurse then becomes responsible for supporting that student through their level 3 diploma and supervising completion of their nursing progress log. The nursing progress log is a large list of tasks that a student nurse has to carry out and claim competence in for their clinical coach to sign them off. Clinical coaches have to attend regular standardisation courses to remain up to date with any changes or new information they are required to know.

I am very proud to be a Veterinary Nurse and became a clinical coach to help others achieve their chosen career goal. I find it exciting to be able to have the opportunity to pass on knowledge and skills that I have gained since qualifying. I get massive job satisfaction from watching my students learn new things and demonstrate their practical skills. Seeing an individual develop from a shy and quiet new student into a confident and competent qualified veterinary nurse is priceless!
Stephanie Howe

Vets Now Certificate of Veterinary Nursing in Emergency and Critical Care (Cert VN ECC)

This is a Level 4 Qualification accredited by City and Guilds which allows individuals interested in emergency and critical care to develop their knowledge and skills in this area. It is an 18 month distance learning course delivered via an online e-learning platform, comprising of assignments during the course and an examination at the end to gain the award. The course offers students flexible, accessible learning whilst continuing with full time employment. It is suggested that students should spend 5 1/2 hours studying per week.

I have always had an interest in emergency cases and am always looking for ways to progress in my veterinary nursing career. The Vets Now certificate in emergency and critical care seemed like a natural choice for me allowing me to fulfil my goal of specialising in this area whilst still being able to work full time. The course provided me with a comprehensive and up to date knowledge base which boosted my confidence allowing me to provide more effective and efficient care to the emergency patients I nurse.
Hannah Prince

Nurses Certificates (NCert)

The Nursing Certificates cover a range of subjects including anaesthesia, emergency and critical care, behaviour, nutrition among many others. These are qualifications accredited by the European School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies. It is a modular training programme comprising of taught sessions during the course and non-taught elements. It is assessed through case studies and a final exam and can take anything from 1 year to 3 years to complete.

I completed the anaesthesia certificate in 2012 and am currently studying towards the emergency and critical care one. I am passionate about both anaesthesia and emergency work and believe it is a large and critical part of my job as a veterinary nurse. Both courses cover relevant and practical topics which benefit me in my day to day work. The courses give you accessibility to highly qualified tutors and have the benefit of group discussions with peers during the module attendance. Both certificates have given me a wide range of knowledge going into the future.
Laura McKay NCert(A&CC)

Graduate Diploma in Professional and Clinical Veterinary Nursing (GradDipVN)

This is a level 6 qualification undertaken at the Royal Veterinary College for veterinary nurses to develop valuable knowledge and skills to progress in their career. It is a 2 year distance learning course with modular assessments in the form of assignments and exams in a range of clinical and professional subject areas. The course focuses on developing critical thinking to enable nurses to be better equipped when caring for their patients.

I chose to do the Graduate diploma to broaden my theoretical knowledge and critical thinking skills to both further my career and deliver an advanced level of nursing care in practice. Achieving the diploma has enabled me to understand and support the more critical cases that we see within referral practice. Additionally my qualification has enabled me to provide greater support to my student veterinary nurses as a clinical coach.
Becky Mason GradDipVN RVN interview

Masters in Veterinary Nursing (MSc)

This is a new level 7 qualification available to veterinary nurses undertaken at Harper Adams University which allows the development of advanced knowledge and skills in areas of veterinary nursing which in most undergraduate courses are not covered in great depth. It takes 3 years to complete this distance learning course and comprises of taught modules at the university which are assessed through assignments and examinations. Students have to complete six taught modules and a research project to gain the full qualification.

I decided I needed to challenge my mind and I was determined to specialise in cancer care. The masters in veterinary nursing was one of the few courses which offered me the option to study oncology modules and with it being distance learning means I can continue with my clinical role with only occasional university visits. The course has not been easy and requires commitment but the achievement will be worth it when I qualify next summer. On completion I will have conducted my own research, expanded my knowledge to care for our cancer patients and will open doors in the future allowing me to lecture and teach.
Jessica Barnes BSc(Hons) RVN A1 interview 

For more information, see the RCVS Website