Course overview

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New Veterinary Nursing Apprenticeship StandardDownload the information booklet on this new programme.

This course is also available as a Level 3 Diploma for those not eligible for an apprenticeship

Quick Facts

  • Expected duration: 30-36 months, including two years of college attendance. 20% of the apprentice’s time must be spent studying off the job – time spent at college counts towards this
  • England (Huntingdon, Potters Bar, Leeds). It may be possible to undertake an apprenticeship at our Edinburgh centre if the apprentice is resident in England and spends at least 50% of their employment in England
  • Non-apprenticeship option available

College attendance

Day release courses are run from our Huntingdon, Potters Bar and Leeds centres each January, April and September. In addition, a block release programme is available at our Huntingdon centre in February and at Edinburgh each September.

Is veterinary nursing for you?

Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) are a vital part of the veterinary team. They work alongside veterinary surgeons to provide expert nursing care and support to animal patients and educate owners on maintaining the health of their pets.

As a veterinary nurse you should be hard working, passionate about animals, pragmatic and dedicated to your work; many veterinary nurses end up taking their work home with them – often quite literally in the form of kittens and that need hand rearing or abandoned or stray animals! The work can involve long and unsociable hours, but the rewards from making a difference to the lives of animals and owners every day make the job so worthwhile.

No two days are the same! Some of the tasks you may be involved with include:

  • Preparing animals for surgery and performing minor surgical procedures
  • Monitoring anaesthetised animals
  • Nursing sick animals and administering medication
  • Taking x-rays and carrying out diagnostic tests
  • Advising owners on the health and welfare of their pets
  • Taking bookings, payments and completing necessary paperwork
  • Running nurse clinics, such as diet, worming and grooming consultations

As a veterinary nurse apprentice, you will be employed in a veterinary practice, earning a wage, and gaining vital practical skills and experience. You will attend College on either a day release, or block release, basis and have access to your course materials via our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

By choosing to study with The College of Animal Welfare – one of the largest providers of veterinary care training in the UK – you will be joining a community of like-minded students and staff, who all share a passion for animal welfare and pushing the profession forward.

If you are looking for employment as a veterinary nurse apprentice, please take a look at our current apprenticeships vacancies or Jobs Board; from time to time there are details of veterinary nurse apprenticeship vacancies.

As part of this apprenticeship you will also receive a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing and be eligible to apply for professional registration with the RCVS as a Registered Veterinary Nurse.

Benefits to employers

  • Increased productivity: Maximise staff efficiency though the development of knowledge, skills and professional responsibilities
  • Cost effective: Minimise recruitment and training costs
  • Grow your own: Develop your next generation of registered veterinary nurses
  • Enhanced reputation: Provide client reassurance by investing in trained staff

The College of Animal Welfare has a well-earned reputation for excellence; delivering quality training and education and employer support. Your apprentice will benefit from:

  • Support and guidance from qualified lecturers with strong industry experience
  • Diverse teaching, learning and assessment approaches catered for individual needs
  • Access to our unique Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and extensive eLibrary resources
  • Access to state-of-the-art clinical skills facilities
Course content

This course is also available as a Level 3 Diploma for those not eligible for an apprenticeship

You will gain the essential knowledge, skills and behaviours needed of a professionally registered veterinary nurse to work within the standards and scope of practice defined by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

Knowledge

You will gain a comprehensive understanding of:

  • Legislative compliance and regulatory requirements
  • Comparative functional anatomy for veterinary nursing practice
  • Infection control in veterinary practice
  • Materials, equipment and resources
  • Veterinary Nursing Care
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Diagnostic techniques for veterinary nurses
  • Communication
  • Self-Management

Skills

You will gain the Veterinary Nursing Day One Skills required by the RCVS and understand the importance of:

  • Legislation affecting practice
  • Communication
  • Clinical skills
  • Self-Management
  • Professionalism

Behaviours

You will understand the importance of abiding by the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses including:

  • Working within legal and ethical limits
  • Accountability
  • Responsibility
  • Self-improvement

Functional Skills

You will also undertake Functional Skills Level 2 in English and Maths unless exempt.

Assessment

On programme assessments

You will undertake a variety of assessments including online examinations, assignments and case studies. You will also complete a Nursing Progress Log (NPL) as evidence of practical competence. If you are required to undertake Functional Skills Level 2 in English and Maths, these are assessed via online examinations and practical assessments.

Once you have completed these, and undertaken the required amount of training, you will be able to undertake the End Point Assessment.

End Point Assessment (EPA)

The EPA consists of

  1. A Professional Discussion
  2. A Practical Assessment in the form of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

Professional Discussion
The Professional discussion is a structured 45 minute interview between the apprentice and an independent assessor covering a range of knowledge, skills and behaviours through scenario competence-based questions.

Practical Assessment
Once all other assessments have been passed, you will complete a final practical examination (OSCEs).

Entry requirements

This course is also available as a Level 3 Diploma for those not eligible for an apprenticeship

View Current Apprenticeship Vacancies 

You must have a minimum of five GCSEs at grade C or above (4-9), including English Language, Mathematics and a Science subject. If you do not meet the GCSE requirement, there are alternative qualifications that may be acceptable; one of these combinations is the City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants, along with full Level 2 qualifications in English and Maths i.e. Level 2 Functional Skills or GCSE at grade C or above.

You will also need to be living and working in England in a veterinary practice that is approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as a Training Practice (TP or aTP) earning at least the National Minimum Wage for Apprentices. To complete this apprenticeship within the 30-36 month time frame you will need to be working for a minimum of 30 hours per week, if you are working less than 30 hours a week the length of your apprenticeship will be extended depending on your working hours.

Please note apprentices attending our Edinburgh centre must be resident in England and spend at least 50% of their employment in England.

Before applying, please ensure you read the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disability Guidance on the Recruitment of VN Students, which can be downloaded here.

If you have a level 3 (or above) qualification is a similar subject you may not be able to undertake this apprenticeship, in which case you may wish to undertake the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing as a standalone qualification.

Course fees

Apprenticeship fees are payable by the employer. Prior to starting the course an invoice will be issued for the total course fee.

If you have not achieved your qualification by the planned end date detailed in your individual learning plan, your employer will be able to pay monthly direct debit payments to allow you to continue to receive support and access to your course until certification of your award.

Employ an apprentice aged 16-18 and save over £1,000!

Practices training an apprentice under 19 years of age will receive a £1,000 incentive from the government towards the costs of training. If you also have less than 50 contracted employees, the apprenticeship fees for those aged 16-18 years of age will be fully funded!

Small employers/Non-levy payers (with an annual payroll bill of less than £3 million)

£1,500 payable in two annual payments of £750 each.

Large employers/Levy payers (with an annual payroll bill of more than £3 million)

Digital account payment – £15,000

Please note these fees are also fully inclusive of RCVS student registration, awarding body fees and first exam and End Point Assessment attempts.

These are current figures and may be subject to change. The differences in course fees reflect the level of funding that is available as a result of government policies and priorities. These may be as a result of age, employment status, previous education achievements, or location for example, and are outside the control of The College of Animal Welfare.

What next?

On completion of your apprenticeship you will be eligible to apply to join the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Register of Veterinary Nurses and use the post nominal term, RVN. Entry on the register allows you to legally practice as a veterinary nurse under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.

Many veterinary nurses choose to remain in first opinion veterinary practice, however there are also opportunities to pursue more specialist roles in referral practices, emergency ‘out of hours’ practices or large veterinary hospitals; perhaps specialising in a particular area such as surgical nursing. You could also find work in, for example, teaching, management, research or sales.

You may also look to pursue further training by ‘topping up’ your qualification to a full degree by undertaking the BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Degree Top Up Programme, available at Edinburgh Napier University via distance learning. A degree would open up further opportunities in post graduate study, such as veterinary physiotherapy.

Remember that once you are qualified, it is your professional responsibility to ensure that your professional knowledge and skills remain up-to-date. You can do this by undertaking short courses or further veterinary nursing qualifications. Our CPD and short courses are designed for registered and student veterinary nurses alike, and can be undertaken to refresh veterinary knowledge and keep up with the latest developments in the profession.

Testimonials

Lydia Christie Smith first joined the The College of Animal Welfare by undertaking the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management course. During her time on this course she completed two weeks of work experience within a veterinary practice and realised that veterinary nursing was the career for her! After her course, she was offered a full time position as a student veterinary nurse and Lydia went on to complete the Advanced Apprentcieship/Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing course. We caught up with Lydia and asked her to share some of her experiences about her time at College. Read the case study.