RCVS VN Council members

RCVS VN Council approves new advanced veterinary nursing qualifications

At its May meeting RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council gave final approval to two new advanced veterinary nursing qualifications that would allow members of the profession at all stages of their career to develop their professional skills and knowledge in designated areas of practice.

The proposals for a new post-registration qualification framework for the profession grew out of a key recommendation of the VN Futures Report and Action Plan published in July 2016, which said that the joint RCVS and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) project should ‘canvas opinion on the scope, level and delivery of post-qualification awards for veterinary nurses’. This would aim to open up more and different career paths for veterinary nurses.

The proposals were developed by a Post-registration Qualification Working Group and consulted on last summer. The consultation received a large number of responses from the profession which then fed into further revisions that were approved by the VN Education Committee in April.

“This is a fantastic development for veterinary nursing in terms of professional development and showcasing the full range of skills and experience that we possess.”

Racheal Marshall, Chair of VN Council

VN Council approval was the final stage of the process which will now see two qualifications – a Level 6 Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing and a Level 7 Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing.

The two new qualifications differ from the previous Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing in that the qualification is smaller, more focused (being a 60 credit qualification rather than an 120 credit one) and specific to the veterinary nurse’s subject of choice, which makes it both more appealing and more manageable to fit around both professional and private life.

Commenting on the decision Racheal Marshall, Chair of VN Council, said: “This is a fantastic development for veterinary nursing in terms of professional development and showcasing the full range of skills and experience that we possess.

“The course criteria that we have approved have already received a great deal of interest from both Further and Higher Education providers. We hope to work constructively with them on developing their courses to ensure that they meet the standards we have set out and that they are maintained over time.

“By allowing greater focus on particular designated areas of practice I think these courses will really open up some significant opportunities for VNs, who can choose to go down a designated path, whether that is in, for example, anaesthesia, emergency & critical care, pharmacology or even non-clinical routes such as education and teaching, research skills and leadership.

“This is a great step forward for the profession and we look forward to working to develop the first Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing courses and seeing the first cohort of veterinary nurses sign-up to it.”

It is hoped that, in time, once the qualifications have bedded in and enough members of the profession have undertaken and completed the certificate, they may act as a pathway to a formal Advanced Veterinary Nurse status, similar to the relationship between the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice and Advanced Practitioner status for veterinary surgeons.

Both VN Education Committee and VN Council will be looking at the issue of this status over the coming years.

The full details of the framework for the new qualifications – including the candidate enrolment process, candidate requirements, assessment methods, guidance on curricula and the accreditation and reaccreditation standards – can be found in the committee papers for VN Council.

Any veterinary nurses or Higher/ Further Education institutions who are interested in the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing should contact the RCVS VN Department on vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0788.