Veterinary medicine goes back as far as the bond between humans and animals, but in recent years the care and treatment of our animals and those in zoos and the wild has become more and more diverse and advanced. Animals with chronic conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes can now be treated in much the same way as humans are and the survival rate of those animals that have been injured are now very high indeed.
Veterinary nurses are highly valued and have become a very important part of any veterinary practice. In this role you will be responsible for the supportive care of sick and injured animals, monitoring animals during anaesthesia and also provide diagnostic tests such as x-rays. You may also be asked to perform minor surgical procedures and educate animal owners on good standards of care. You may also be involved in running puppy clinics, behaviour clinics or training.
Example areas of study
To practice as a veterinary nurse you do need to be registered with the RCVS. Although most of the courses listed below include the professional RCVS examinations some of the modules that you may study do vary from institution to institution. You will need to check with the institutions themselves as to the focus of the course and that they are registered with the RCVS to make sure that the course is accredited. The list below will give you an idea of the kind of subjects you may study:
- Clinical veterinary nursing
- Diagnostic imaging and radiography
- Research and study skills
- Animal welfare
- Equine nursing
- Critical care
- Animal therapy
- Complementary therapies
- Anatomy and physiology
- Surgical nursing
- Theatre practice
- Avian health and disease
- Animal behaviour
- Veterinary nursing science
- Animals in society
- Clinical decision-making
- Animal husbandry
- Nursing exotics and wildlife
- Animal handling
- Small animal nursing
- Practice organisation
- Veterinary therapeutics
- Species-focused nursing
- Wound management
- Patient management
- Intensive care nursing
Some career possibilities
Veterinary nurses are sought after and there are good job prospects for those with the RCVS qualifications. Not all veterinary nurses work in veterinary practices however. Opportunities may be available overseas, in zoos or rare breed collections, pet shops, animal rescue centres, animal charities, pet insurance companies or animal/veterinary publications. The Army have the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and the Police use horses and dogs and both organisations require skilled veterinary nurses to ensure the good health of these animals.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for the RCVS professional qualifications require students to be over 17 with five good GCSEs including English, mathematics and science. You are also required to be employed by a RCVS registered veterinary practice. However, the entry requirements for the courses listed below do have different entry requirements so you will need to check with the institutions themselves about the grades and qualifications that they require. The list below will give you an idea:
- UCAS Tariff: 140-280 points including a biological science
- A-levels: CD-BBC including a relevant science subject
- SQA Highers: BBBC including a science subject
- SQA Advanced Highers: CD-BBC including a relevant science subject
- HND: relevant RCVS-approved HND
- European Baccalaureate: 68%
- International Baccalaureate: 26 points including a relevant science subjects
- Mature entry: high level of demonstrable skills and ability
- For some BSc's you will be required to have completed and passes the RCVS professional qualifications and have 2 years' relevant experience
For your application or interview the following may be useful:
- You will need to be an animal lover and have a good general education.
- Further information is available from The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Veterinary Nursing Training, The British Equine Veterinary Association, The Sector Skills Council for the Environmental and Land-based Sector, The British Small Animal Veterinary Association andThe Royal Army Veterinary Corps.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk