Did you know that we are an approved training practice?
Not all veterinary practices are allowed to train veterinary nurses; only those listed as approved training practices by our governing body – the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) – are permitted to support formal training. We are immensely proud to be an approved training practice as this reflects both our dedication to provide the highest standards of clinical care to our patients, and our commitment to train future generations of veterinary nurses.
Becoming a Listed Training Practice
To become a listed training practice, clinics are assessed and must be found to offer a safe and suitable clinical environment for learning, have a large and varied caseload, and be able to demonstrate and teach best clinical practice. Reassessment is performed annually to ensure these requirements are still being met. Clinics that offer best practice care and a suitable learning environment but do not have a broad enough case load to meet all training requirements can be approved as an auxiliary training practice. This means that student nurses can carry out the majority of their training there, but must second to an alternative approved practice to cover any training needs not met in their primary placement.
Mentoring and Supervision
Approving the practice as a training centre is only the first step however. Within the practice, one or more registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) or veterinary surgeons must be approved as a clinical supervisor. These individuals receive training in teaching and mentoring, and are required to provide evidence of their own experience and continuing professional development (CPD) records. This ensures the clinical supervisors keep abreast of developments in nursing and best practice patient care. Often, the whole practice team helps with teaching student nurses, however the clinical supervisor has responsibility for making sure learning progresses at a suitable pace, and assessing when the student achieves competency in a given task. A student veterinary nurse (SVN) is always considered under supervision by an RVN or veterinary surgeon.
The Training from SVN to RVN
To qualify as a registered veterinary nurse (RVN), students must undergo three years of in-depth training followed by practical and written assessments. This can be achieved via a full time university degree, or part time level 3 diploma undertaken while working in practice. Both routes require hundreds of hours of practical learning to ensure RVNS are suitably trained. Practically, most student veterinary nurses (SVNs) start by performing simple tasks such as feeding and walking patients, cleaning kennels or equipment, and helping maintain a sterile surgical environment. As they progress, they will learn and be given more responsibility. This will include animal handling, especially holding pets safely and securely for minor procedures such as injections or blood sampling. Over the next few years, as their knowledge increases, SVNs will learn how to take these samples themselves. They will accompany RVNs into theatre and learn how to monitor patients under anaesthesia, take x-rays, and assist the vet with procedures such as endoscopy. Our SVNs and RVNs are often responsible for admitting and discharging patients and performing a range of consultations. All SVNs will have been thoroughly observed and assessed as competent in these tasks before they are permitted to carry them out unaided.
Being a training practice is very important to us, as it allows us to help create the next generation of veterinary nurses. Not only do the entire team find teaching very rewarding, but it pushes us to keep our knowledge current and encourage best practice at all times. Student nurses have regular formal training; for degree students this is usually spent at university, while for diploma students it is more commonly one day a week at college. The combination of formal learning in a classroom environment followed by practical application of the knowledge allows it to be processed and fully utilised. Our student nurses are a very valuable part of our team and we wouldn’t wish to be without them!
If you have any questions about becoming a student veterinary nurse or wish to learn more about the involvement of students in the care your pet receives, please speak to a member of the clinical team on your next visit.