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Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month goes virtual

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month goes virtual

Practices urged to go online to promote the importance of RVNs

It's almost time for Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month (VNAM) (May), and with many people on lockdown, organisers have had to remove the face-to-face interactions and will be running the campaign 'online and virtual' instead.

VNAM aims to spread the word about the importance of the role of the veterinary nurse in practice and the provision of responsible pet care to the general public. It was first started by the BVNA in 2005 as National VN Day campaign and now takes place throughout May every year.

Each year, more and more veterinary practices and training colleges get involved in promoting the role of the veterinary nurse, running events such as sponsored skydives, practice open days and pet health checks

Owing to the outbreak if COVID-19, this year's campaign will be a little different, with participants being asked to take part in virtual activities that they can complete on their mobile phone, laptop or home PC.

RVNs are being urged to join in the campaign as much as possible by recording videos about why they decided to become a vet nurse and what they love about being a vet nurse. The videos should last no longer than a minute, and then shared to the VNAM Facebook page using the hashtag #whatVNsdo, #VNAM2020 and #vetnurses.

This year's competition details can be found here and consist of three categories:

  • design a digital poster or infographic 'Showing the role of the Veterinary Nurse’
  • record a short educational video of no longer than five minutes that helps pet owners care for their pets
  • take a picture of your pet and complete the sentence “I love my Vet Nurse because…..”

There is also a digital pack that practices can download containing posters, partner logos and leaflets about a career in veterinary nursing.

To find out more about this year's campaign, and to get involved, visit www.bvna.org.uk

VN training requirements temporarily suspended

VN training requirements temporarily suspended

Decision follows government advice on social distancing

The RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council has agreed to temporarily suspend certain requirements for student VNs and training programmes.

The College said in a press release that the decision had been reached owing to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the UK government's advice on social distancing.

“We have been in discussion with veterinary nursing education providers regarding a number of concerns they have raised regarding the support for student veterinary nurses and the progression with their licence to practise qualifications,” explained Julie Dugmore, RCVS director of veterinary nursing.

“These include concerns that, under the current circumstances, student veterinary nurses would not be able to fulfil their clinical placement requirements, as well as not being able to undertake the required assessments. Furthermore, institutions offering veterinary nurse education would not be able to continue their programme of approving and quality monitoring Training Practices.”

She continued: “Therefore the following temporary arrangements and guidance have been approved by both the Veterinary Nurses (VN) Education Committee and VN Council. We ask that all student veterinary nurses, veterinary nursing education centres and Training Practices read the guidance.”

The temporary arrangements and guidance are as follows:

Clinical placements

1. Several universities have expressed concerns regarding student veterinary nurses’ attendance in clinical placement over the coming weeks, due to the precautions around transmission of Coronavirus. This applies, in the main, to full-time students in all years of a programme, although there are particular concerns as to the impact this will have on final-year students being unable to complete the required number of hours in order to complete their programme and graduate.

2. There have also been concerns raised over the completion of the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses (DOS) should students be unable to attend their clinical placements. RCVS Day One Competences and Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses set out the minimum essential requirements that we expect all student nurses to have met when they register, to ensure they are safe and competent to practise on day one, in whichever area of the profession they start to work.
 
3. Universities and awarding organisations have requested a degree of flexibility around the RCVS VN Registration Rules and completion of the RCVS Day One Skills, in light of the COVID-19 situation. The following therefore applies:

a. We recognise that it should not be compulsory for students to complete clinical placements within the next eight weeks, after which the situation will be reviewed. This will apply to students in any year of their studies.

b. We recognise that for students in their final year of study, it may be difficult for them to make up the hours of clinical placement missed prior to graduation. Universities and colleges should continue to support students and explore alternatives, however any shortfall relative to the requirements should not be a barrier to completion of the programme.

c. For BSc students in years 1 to 3 of their studies and FdSc students in years 1 and 2 of their studies, we would expect that there will be sufficient time for them to make up the number of hours prior to completing the programme. However we will review this as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

d. Student veterinary nurses will still be required to complete the Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses in their totality as these seek to assure competency at the point of registration. Where a student has completed the Day One Skills in less than the 1,800 hours, this will be assessed on a case by case basis on application to register.

4. We should be grateful if this information can be shared by universities, awarding organisations and colleges to provide reassurance for students.
Assessments

5. We note that accreditation standards require veterinary nursing programmes to include an OSCE or similarly robust, objective and evidence-based form of practical examination to test safe and effective acquisition of a broad range of skills and competences as outlined in the RCVS Day One Competences and Skills for Veterinary Nurses.

6. There has been some concern regarding the number of examiners required for OSCE assessments in light of announcements from some organisations that are not allowing staff members to attend large gatherings.

7. Universities and awarding organisations may need to explore alternatives to the current delivery of the unseen and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) used for assessment of the RCVS Day One Competences and Skills for Veterinary Nurses, as a result of measures to protect students and staff and reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission. In this respect, the RCVS Examinations Manager and Chair of VN Education Committee will review proposals for changes to the assessment.

8. As universities and awarding organisation explore alternative methods, they should continue to consider the robustness of their processes in assessing practical skills.

9. Universities and awarding organisations will still be required to assure us, through subsequent analysis and evaluation, that all their assessments were sufficiently met Day One Competences and Skills.

Training Practice Approval and Quality Monitoring activities

10. We recognise that remote approval and quality monitoring activities will reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission to college staff, training practice staff, students and the public. Utilisation of desk-based activities and video-conferencing technology should be considered during this unique time. Where remote training practice approval has taken place, we would expect a follow-up visit in person once the coronavirus outbreak is under control, in line with the prevailing government advice. 

Nominations open for BVNA Council elections

Nominations open for BVNA Council elections

Members of all career levels urged to apply

The British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) is encouraging all full members and student members to stand for election to join BVNA Council.

The BVNA aims to represent the veterinary nursing profession and provide training, education and guidance to all of its members. Council members are responsible for overseeing the administration and activities of the BVNA, calling upon their own personal strengths and experience.

This year there are five full member (RVN) seats and two student member (SVN) seats available.

Jo Hinde, BVNA president said: “Being part of the BVNA council provides a unique opportunity for you to help shape the future of veterinary nursing in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you are newly qualified or have many years of experience – it also doesn’t matter if you no longer work in a clinical setting – all RCVS registered nurses are welcome to apply.

“All we ask is that you commit to fulfil the role to the best of your ability and bring your passion and drive to the table. Being on council also gives you an opportunity to learn and develop a range of new skills as well as working alongside a group of dedicated individuals that aspire to making veterinary nursing the best it can be.”

Speaking about her first year on council, BVNA junior vice president Jo Oakden said: “I had never been on a committee before, so I had to adjust to the way a committee works. But I have learnt a lot, with support from some amazing RVN’s also on the council. I have definitely made some friends-for-life along the way.

“We are so fortunate to be able to be involved at a time where we are pushing for change, and change is happening. Now is the time to get involved to shape the profession into the sustainable and recognised profession we want it to be.”

For more information, please visit the BVNA website.

City & Guilds to cease offering veterinary nursing qualifications

City & Guilds to cease offering veterinary nursing qualifications

Will no longer accept new registrations after 31 August 2020

City & Guilds has announced that it will be withdrawing veterinary nursing from its portfolio of qualifications. From September, the Awarding Organisation will not be accepting any new registrations and will cease certificating qualifications from 31 August 2023.

The qualifications affected are:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Small Animals) (7457-03) Ofqual Accreditation No: 600/6052/9
  • Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Equine) (7457-13) Ofqual Accreditation No: 600/6052/9
  • Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Veterinary Nursing (7457-33) Ofqual Accreditation No: 603/5101/9
  • Level 3 Diploma in Equine Veterinary Nursing (7457-43) Ofqual Accreditation No: 603/5102/0

The organisation has also stated that it no longer intends to apply to become an End-point Assessment Organisation for the veterinary nursing apprenticeship end-point assessment.

City & Guilds has not yet provided a clear reason for why it has decided not to continue these qualifications, but claims that the decision is “based on several factors”.

RVN and chair of the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Education Committee Susan Howarth said: “We fully recognise this will be worrying news for many VN students, so our immediate priority is to provide as much information and reassurance as possible to those currently enrolled with City & Guilds-approved centres, or those who might be intending to enrol soon.”

A spokesperson for Central Qualifications, the other fully accredited vocational awarding body, says it is working with Colleges and Apprenticeship providers to ensure student veterinary nurses are able to qualify and register as RVNs, and also complete their apprenticeships on time. They added: “We advise colleges to contact us as soon as possible by email to: enquiries@cqual.org.”

A City & Guilds spokesperson said: “Due to significant external policy change, City & Guilds has been required to undertake a review of its provision across all sectors in which we operate. Unfortunately, this has led to the difficult decision to cease delivery of our Veterinary Nursing qualifications for Small Animal and Equine.

"This decision has not been taken lightly and we understand the disappointment it has caused to both training centres and learners. We pride ourselves on the level of service we offer our customers and the quality of the qualifications we provide. We are therefore working closely with our centres to minimise any disruption and ensure that all learners registered with us have every opportunity to complete their qualifications.”

Blue Cross 'Vet Nurse of the Year' winner announced

Blue Cross 'Vet Nurse of the Year' winner announced

Award presented to RVNs that go the extra mile to improve pet welfare

Danielle Pountain of Pool House Veterinary Hospital, Lichfield, has won the Blue Cross ‘Vet Nurse of the Year’ award for going ‘above and beyond’ to help animals in need.

Danielle was presented with her award by Richard Casey, clinical development manager at Blue Cross, at the BVNA Congress in Telford, Shropshire. Her nominators praised her for her enthusiasm, extensive knowledge and experience, making her a role model for hard work and self-motivation.  

Commenting on her award, Danielle, a deputy head nurse, said: “I was overwhelmed to receive the call that I had been selected as the Blue Cross Vet Nurse of the Year. It felt like an unbelievable honour to have been considered worthy for an award for doing a job I love to do and I felt like being recognised for my achievements and contribution to veterinary nurses, validated all of my hard work, enthusiasm and dedication. I am grateful to everyone for giving me such a great title and award.”

Mr Casey said: “Danielle is a dedicated and passionate vet nurse who goes above and beyond to help pets in need. She is very highly qualified and is always seeking out the latest research evidence to support the animals in her care, as well as training the RVN’s of the future. Congratulations to Danielle who has truly earned this year’s award.”

The Blue Cross Vet Nurse of the Year award pays recognition to the country’s veterinary nurses and the support they give veterinary teams, pet owners and their animals. It is presented to a veterinary nurse who not only cares for sick and injured pets but goes the extra mile to encourage responsible pet ownership and improve pet welfare in the community.

Danielle was one of more than a hundred veterinary nurses nominated for this year’s award.

 

CQ approved for End-Point Assessments

CQ approved for End-Point Assessments

Final examination ensures veterinary nursing apprentices are occupationally competent

Central Qualifications (CQ) has become the first awarding body to be approved to run End-Point Assessments (EPAs) for student veterinary nurses.

The organisation said that, upon successful completion of the EPA, apprentices enrolled on the CQ Diploma in Veterinary Nursing will be awarded the Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (DipVN) and can subsequently join the RCVS register.

CQ director Jacqui Garrett commented: “Apprenticeships have been the cornerstone of veterinary nurse training for several years and Central Qualifications is pleased to support Colleges and employers with their training programmes.”

EPAs were introduced by the Institute of Apprenticeships following a review of apprenticeship standards.

To meet the VN Apprenticeship Standard, each student is required to have the knowledge, skills and professional attributes required to become a veterinary nurse. Typically, students will spend 30 to 36 months working towards the apprenticeship standard, followed by their EPA.

For further information about the CQ Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, email enquiries@cqual.org 

Revised CPD policy announced

Revised CPD policy announced

RCVS makes changes following feedback from professions

Following concerns raised by veterinary professionals regarding the RCVS’ upcoming transition to an annual continuing professional development (CPD) requirement, the College has made two key additions to its CPD policy to address feedback and support veterinary surgeons and VNs through this transition. 
 
These additions aim to address the shift to annual hourly requirements from January 2020, with veterinary surgeons required to complete 35 hours of CPD each calendar year and veterinary nurses required to complete 15 hours. This replaces the previous requirement of 105 hours and 45 hours of CPD over a rolling three-year period for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses respectively.
 
The shift to annual hourly requirements has been made to ensure that every vet and VN achieves their CPD targets each year, simplifying the hourly requirement, in addition to allowing the RCVS to address non-compliance in a meaningful way. The switch to annual hours will also take vets’ and VNs’ personal circumstances into account and a degree of flexibility has been built into the system to recognise this need.
 
The first of the two new additions is the option for vets and VNs to take a ‘CPD pause’, which aims to address some of the feedback the College received about the need to consider personal circumstances. In practice, this means that, for planned periods away from work, such as parental leave, and exceptional circumstances, such as serious ill health or unforeseen changes to family responsibilities, vets and VNs can pause their CPD for up to six months without the need to make up the hours when they return to work. This will, therefore, reduce the burden on vets and VNs returning to work after a break and makes it clear what the requirements are for each year.
 
The second change is that the RCVS will allow vets and VNs to carry over some of the CPD hours they have accrued in 2019 into 2020, to smooth the transition to an annual hourly requirement. Vets will be allowed to carry over 25 hours and VNs 10 hours of accumulated CPD from 2019 through to 2020. This will apply once, in 2020 only, and is only applicable to vets and VNs who have been CPD-compliant from 2017 to 2019 and have a surplus number of hours to carry over.
 
The other significant change coming to the College’s CPD policy in 2020 is the introduction of a new CPD recording platform, with the working title 1CPD. The platform, an app for VNs and vet surgeons to record their CPD, will be launched in January 2020, and will support the new outcomes-based, reflective approach to CPD. 1CPD will replace the existing Professional Development Record (PDR), at which all content from the PDR will automatically be exported over to 1CPD.
 
The new platform will also aim to facilitate the move to individuals reflecting on the impact of the CPD they have undertaken, to drive the outcomes-based approach that will be recommended in January 2020, and become mandatory in January 2022.  This approach aims to support positive CPD outcomes by encouraging professionals to reflect on what they have learned, how they will apply their learning and how it will improve their practice.
 
“The process of reflection is particularly important as it facilitates a culture of actively looking for ways to improve,” says RCVS director of education, Dr Linda Prescott-Clements. “Our new tool will support this reflection in a fast, effective and cost-free way. It’s really important for us to get this point across – CPD is incredibly important for a flourishing profession but it doesn’t need to be expensive, stressful or demanding.”

BSAVA launches nursing case report opportunity

BSAVA launches nursing case report opportunity

Successful candidates will present their case at Congress 2020

Aspiring veterinary nurse speakers are being encouraged to submit their interesting or novel cases for a new nursing case report development session at BSAVA Congress 2020.

Devised by BSAVA’s programme committee, the Case Reports session has been devised to support RVNs who wish to develop their presenting ability. It is specifically aimed at those with little or no experience of presenting and includes mentorship support for the selected candidates. 


“Case reports represent an engaging and interactive method for nurses to discuss unique cases or new techniques,” explained RVN Claire Woolford, who sits on the BSAVA Congress Programme Committee. “What’s particularly special about the initiative at Congress 2020, is that we want to use the case report platform to support aspiring veterinary nurse speakers who could become speakers at Congress or other BSAVA events”.

She continued: “We are particularly encouraging nurses with limited experience of presenting and offering the positive environment of Congress for them to develop their skills. All successful candidates will be assigned an experienced mentor who will aid them in preparing the final report to present at Congress’’.

The eight winning applicants will be chosen by the BSAVA Congress report and will have 15 minutes to present their case at Congress 2020. The winners will also receive a Congress nurse pass for the whole event (BSAVA VN members) or for Saturday (4 April) (non-members).

Veterinary nurses wishing to be involved in the initiative are urged to submit a brief synopsis of their case by 4th November 2019. The Case Report must focus on small animal cases, but any species and discipline can be discussed.

Full details are available at www.bsavaevents.com

Image (C) BSAVA.

BVNA Council election results revealed

BVNA Council election results revealed

Overall voter turnout less than five per cent

The results of the 2019 BVNA Council elections have been revealed. 


This year sees three new council members and two new student council members joining BVNA Council.

Samantha Payne, Jack Pie and Matthew Wright were elected for full membership, while Charlotte Ottewill and Hilary Wood were appointed as student members.

BVNA President Wendy Nevins said: “I am thrilled we have once again had a contested election for Council. We should all be grateful to the candidates who were willing to put themselves forward for selection by the membership.”

This year’s election saw fewer voters than in 2018, with there overall turnout being less than five per cent.

“It was strange to see more candidates but slightly fewer voters. I do think the appetite is growing amongst Members to represent the profession,” Wendy Nevins continued. “They can see the impact the BVNA has through initiatives like VN Futures, the relevance it has to them as professionals and the support it can offer them day-to-day in the workplace.

“The challenge now is to translate that into voting – something we will take a close look at in the year ahead.”

Image (C) BVNA.

VN Futures Board appoints new chair

VN Futures Board appoints new chair

Racheal Marshall is the current chair of Veterinary Nurses Council

Racheal Marshall has been appointed as chair of the VN Futures Board, a collective that oversees and sets priorities for the VN Futures Initiative (VNF).

Ms Marshall, who is the current chair of Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council, took up the position at the fourth meeting of the Board, which took place at the Kennel Club’s offices in London in June. She will sit alongside VN Council vice-chair Liz Cox, BVNA president Wendy Nevins and BVNA vice-president Jo Hinde.

Launched in 2016 by the RCVS and the BVNA, the VN Futures Project aims to identify and draw up solutions to issues facing the veterinary nursing profession. The same year, the VNF published the VN Futures Report and Action Plan, which set out 31 actions under six broad strategic aims.

To see these actions through, six working groups were formed to look at the broad strategic areas. The VN Futures Board was established in June 2018 to oversee and help coordinate the work of these groups.

Wendy Nevins commented: “In its first 12 months, the VNF Board has really got to grips with the direction and legacy of the VN Futures initiative. The clarity and direction it has brought is reinvigorating the Working Groups. The next 12 months will see a real focus on delivery of the original findings of the VFN Futures initiative.”

During the meeting, the Board reviewed the first 12 months of its work and agreed on plans to communicate the gains that have been delivered so far. These include the development of two new Diplomas in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, more resources to help VNs and vets navigate Schedule 3 and the publication of career case studies to illustrate the diverse array of roles available in the profession.

Wendy added: “The VN Futures project has a fixed five-year horizon to make sure we keep focus on what the profession said it wanted – and needed – to be delivered. At the end it will be for the profession to decide how well this has been done – and what comes next.”

It was also agreed at the meeting that the Board would have a presence at the Royal Veterinary College’s Student Veterinary Nursing Fest as well as the BVNA and BSAVA Congresses.

Racheal Marshall said: “The energy and life of the VN Futures initiative comes from veterinary nurses so we are excited to be taking this back out to meet nurses and ask them for their thoughts and comments on how these issues – like career progression, further qualifications, and emerging agendas like One Health – matter to them.

"We are really looking forward to a busy program of congress events in order to hear from people!”

'Exemplary' nurse named VN Educator of the Year

'Exemplary' nurse named VN Educator of the Year

Kira Sutcliffe honoured for her work training veterinary nurses 

An ‘exemplary’ veterinary nurse, Kira Sutcliffe, has been named VN Educator of the Year Award at an awards ceremony hosted by Central Qualifications in London.

The awards recognise the hard work and commitment of all staff who support veterinary nursing students. This year’s event was held at Central Hall in Westminster on Saturday (22 June).

Kira is head nurse and clinical coach at Stanley House Veterinary Group in Burnley, where she began her career as a trainee in 1999. As a clinical coach she supports her students during the course of their training, guiding them through their learning and inspiring them to grow into responsible professionals.

Commenting on her award, she said: “I am extremely grateful for the recognition I have received and I would like to thank all the staff at Stanley House Vets for their support throughout my career.”

Those who nominated her described her as an ‘exemplary’ nurse and a ‘fantastic leader’ who has trained many nurses to an incredibly high standard.

Robin Hargreaves, one of the directors of Stanley House vets, said he had “no hesitation” in recommending Kira for the award.

“She has all the qualities I admire in a teacher,” he explained. “Having trained with us to get her own veterinary nursing qualification she has huge experience in first opinion veterinary practice and the challenges that students are being prepared to face. She is thorough, consistent, empathetic and understanding.

“I think the greatest quality she has is the example she sets, when things get difficult she is the first to roll up her sleeves and do the extra bits required to get the tasks completed, and with endless good humour.

“Whilst setting rigorous standards for herself she is immensely understanding of the struggles students can have balancing work, home and study. Above all she is kind, kind to her colleagues and kind to her patients and if the veterinary professions wanted to create nurses to a template then I would hold her up as a shining example to anyone.”

Nominations open for Blue Cross Veterinary Nurse of the Year award

Nominations open for Blue Cross Veterinary Nurse of the Year award

Pet owners and veterinary practices invited to put forward their ‘star nurses’

Nominations are now open for the Blue Cross Veterinary Nurse of the Year award.

The award, which will be presented at BVNA Congress in October (11-13), recognises the dedication of the country’s veterinary nurses and the support they give veterinary teams, pet owners and their animals.

It is given to a veterinary nurse who not only cares for sick and injured pets but goes above and beyond to encourage responsible pet ownership and improve pet welfare in the community.

Last year’s winner was Tyrina Gibson from Newcastle, who was described by her nominator as “inspirational – a champion for animals with extensive knowledge and incredible commitment.”

“Blue Cross gives this annual award in appreciation of the commitment of vet nurses across the UK who work tirelessly to improve the lives of our pets and other animals,” said David Catlow, Blue Cross director of veterinary clinical services.

“We are looking for vet nurses who really go that extra mile to support pet owners in their communities who have a significant impact in improving the nation’s animal welfare”.

Pet owners and veterinary practices are being invited to put forward their ‘star vet nurses’ for the award. If you know somebody who has gone the extra mile for a pet, or has made a significant contribution to animal welfare, visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk/vote-your-favourite-veterinary-nurse-2019

RCVS publishes new blogs on VN careers

RCVS publishes new blogs on VN careers

Career case studies posted as VNAM comes to an end 

The RCVS has posted a series of new blogs on veterinary nursing careers, to mark the end of Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month.

Published on the VN Futures website, the new blogs aim to highlight differing career pathways available to veterinary nurses.

VN Futures is a joint initiative by the RCVS and BVNA, which aims to help the veterinary nursing profession visualise future challenges and respond to them.

Three case studies have been uploaded from Carl Rudkin, an oncology nurse at Davies Veterinary Specialists; Samantha Thompson, a clinical nursing manager at North Downs Veterinary Referrals; and Claire Speight, a head nurse at Vets4Pets Kettering.

VN Futures project manager Jill Macdonald said: “The veterinary nursing profession offers many opportunities for career progression, and the case studies, from veterinary nurses in a wide variety of different roles, are a great way to help nurses find more about the diverse career pathways available.”

In addition to the blogs, there is a section introducing the VN Futures board members and an update on a recent meeting.

 

BVA backs new veterinary nurse career pathways

BVA backs new veterinary nurse career pathways

New vet-led team concept reiterates the value of RVNs

A new vision for effective teamwork between vets and allied professionals has been launched by the BVA that reiterates the value of RVNs and supports an expansion of their role within the vet-led team.

Prepared with contributions from the BVNA, the Vision makes nine recommendations for the role of RVN. They include a renewal of the call for the VN title to be protected in legislation and further clarification on duties that can be delegated to RVNs under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

BVA president Simon Doherty said: “Veterinary nurses are amongst the most established allied professionals working within the vet-led team and make an invaluable contribution towards successful medical and surgical outcomes for animals.

“We know that the majority of vets have confidence in the current regulation of RVNs, but we would like to see the title of ‘veterinary nurse’ protected in legislation, in the interests of animal health and welfare and to underline the confidence in the professionalism of vet nurses.”

He continued: “We fully support a post-registration framework that provides clear career progression routes for vet nurses across all areas of practice, and especially promote careers in farm animal and equine practice where their training is currently inadequate.”

The vet-led team position underscores the benefits of incorporating the Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) role within RVN training, in addition to the role of RVNs in providing general anaesthesia.

It also calls for the consideration of the role of RVNs in prescribing routine flea and worm treatments and the ongoing management of chronic conditions under veterinary supervision. In zoological medicine, it recognises the potential of RVNs to administer vaccines, dispense contraceptive medications and monitor anthelmintics after an initial veterinary assessment.

BVNA junior vice president Jo Hinde RVN said: “We have always believed the VN title needs to be protected and this is increasingly important as the veterinary profession adapts to new challenges. It is vital that owners can be confident that their pet is being looked after by well-trained and RCVS-registered staff, as well as there being more clarity surrounding Schedule 3 procedures.

“The support for the advancement of the nursing role through post-registration qualifications is a welcome development and we believe this will help enable RVNs to follow their passion for a particular subject and allow them to significantly increase their knowledge in specific areas of interest. When following the vet-led model, this would result in a strong team of individuals with in-depth knowledge that can enhance their patients’ care.”

VN Council approves advanced nursing qualifications

VN Council approves advanced nursing qualifications

New certificate to offer ‘significant opportunities’ for VNs 

VN Council has approved two advanced veterinary nursing qualifications, following a VN Futures recommendation to open up new career paths for veterinary nurses.

Proposals for the new qualifications were developed by a working group and consulted on last year, after the 2016 VN Futures report concluded that the RCVS and BVNA should canvas opinion on post-qualification awards for nurses.

The final stage of the process saw VN Council approve the two new qualifications; the Level 6 Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing and a Level 7 Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing.

VN Council chair Rachael Marshall described the move as a “fantastic development for veterinary nursing”.

The RCVS said the qualifications differ from the previous Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, in that they are more focused and specific to a veterinary nurse’s subject of choice. In addition, each is a 60 credit qualification rather than 120 credits.

Rachael Marshall added: “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 once enough members of the profession have completed the certificate, it could act as a pathway to formal Advanced Veterinary Nurse status.

Further information can be found in the VN Council committee papers. Any veterinary nurses or higher further education institutions who are interested in the certificate should contact vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0788.

RCVS Knowledge Award winners announced

RCVS Knowledge Award winners announced

Award recognises those who have implemented quality improvement in their practices

Three individuals have scooped a top award for implementing quality improvement (QI) within their practices.

Louise Northway of Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre; Alison Thomas of Blue Cross; and Dr Angela Rayner of CVS Group plc were crowned ‘Knowledge Champions’ in the 2019 RCVS Knowledge Awards.


Vets Now Macclesfield’s nursing team also won the 'Champion Practice' award for their work on improving general anaesthetic monitoring in an emergency setting.

Clinical nurse lead Louise was recognised for her dedication to continuously improving care by undertaking clinical audits; setting and revising evidence-based protocols, and instigating discussion and adoption of QI by the entire practice team.

Louise, who is known to many as ‘Lou the Vet Nurse’ on Facebook, stressed the indispensable role that all RVNs can play in their practices:

“Registered Veterinary Nurses should feel empowered to take the lead on quality improvement in practice,” she said. “Become your own clinical governance ambassadors and push for gold standard care for your patients!”

Alison, who is head of veterinary services at Blue Cross, received the award for her project to deliver a consistent approach to diagnosis and treatment throughout the charity. Alison developed guidelines for more than 60 common syndromes and conditions based on the best available evidence, taking into account ethical and quality of life (QOL) considerations.

The introduction of these guidelines coincided with significant cost savings, putting the charity on track to treat a further 2,639 animals.

“The development of a set of evidence-based, QOL-driven clinical guidelines at Blue Cross has helped to create a consistent approach and a pragmatic level of service, reducing the costs to the charity,” said Alison.

“Involvement of the whole team in their creation has been an excellent source of free CPD but has also ensured a sense of ownership and encouraged more critical thinking in the way we approach all our work.”

Clinical services manager Angela won the award for her part in cementing an annual controlled drug’s audit across the CVS group’s practices.
In just one year, CVS’ drug discrepancies for ketamine and methadone improved more than ten-fold and six-fold respectively and improved still further the following year.

The awards will be presented at Royal College Day 2019 on Friday, 12 July at the Royal Institute of British Architects.