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How Do I Become A Vet Nurse?

The role of a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) can vary from day to day. But the ultimate goal is to help to improve the welfare of the patient. This can be through caring for patients staying within the wards, monitoring animals undergoing surgery or having consultations with owners. A Veterinary Nurse usually either works with small animals (cats, dogs, other small mammals and exotics) or horses.

Check out Remi's interview about her veterinary journey

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Training

RVNs can gain their qualification either through a level 3 Diploma (2 year course) or through higher education (3-4 years at university). So what's the difference? Both allow you to be a qualified nurse, but the way they are taught slightly differs. Some people may prefer to be employed in one practice and earn money while they study, on the other hand, students may want the university experience to graduate with a degree even though it takes longer to qualify. No matter which route you take, all Student Nurses have to train in a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Approved Training Practice. Want an overview of the differences? Click here.

What Does A Vet Nurse Do?

In short, everything! A veterinary nurse can take blood from the animal, monitor anaesthetics, give medication, do nursing consults, do minor surgery (nothing that enters a body cavity), looks after animals in the ward and can assist with surgery and emergencies. Please be aware that this is not an exhaustive list!

What Grades Do I Need?

The different nursing training routes have different grade requirements. Always check with the college/university before applying as requirements can range as the following information is just an overview.

FdSc courses:

GSCEs - English Language, Science and Maths are grade 4

A Levels- a science subject/ Biology grade C

BTECs - Merit (check if the course is applicable)

Diploma:

GCSEs - 5 grades 9-4 (incl. English Language, Maths and Science)

OR a level 2 Veterinary Care Assistant Diploma & grade 4 English Language and Maths (or level 2 functional skills)

Universities also require work experience (on average 2 weeks/70 hours), but check with each institution prior to application for up to date information

Where Should I Apply?

Once again, this depends on the course that you want to study, but here are a few things to consider:

Location - Do you want to stay at home or explore a new city? Think about the cost of living too. You may want to consider where you would do your placements as some university students choose to move back home to do them in order to save on rent.

Course structure - If doing a degree, see what their placement schedule looks like. i.e. are you on placement for a full year or is it spread out for a couple of weeks throughout your studies? Also check if you can train in multiple practices.

Which study route - Consider if you want to be paid (Level 3 Diploma) or want to go to university as you are not paid for student placements, but you do get student loans.

Note: If you want to be an equine vet nurse then you can either do specific equine nursing courses or you can do 'top up' courses if you are already a qualified small animal veterinary nurse.

Useful links

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A list of all of the institutions that offer FdSc and BSc Veteirnary Nursing

Image by Matt Seymour

A list of veterinary practices where student nurses can undertake their practical training

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Tess the VN (based in Australia) shares a snippet of what she gets up to in a day

Image by Camylla Battani

Still got a question? Check out the FAQs

"Slow progress is better than no progress"

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