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Veterinary Nurses

Veterinary Nurses

Veterinary nurses are a vital part of the veterinary team providing expert support for ill animals under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.

They are skilled at undertaking a range of diagnostic tests including blood sampling, radiographs, minor surgical treatment, supportive therapy to hospitalised patients and much more.

They also have a key part to play in educating owners on the health of their pets.

You can train to be a small animal veterinary nurse or an equine nurse.

For the small animal veterinary nurse training and equine training you need to be employed in a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) approved veterinary nursing training centre (TP), or as a student on a higher educational based veterinary nurse course.

Some colleges/universities now offer an integrated degree or HND course for small animal training.

A list of approved practices is available on the RCVS website –

Training for the small animal veterinary nurse qualification takes two years whilst working within the practice. It comprises of work-based assessments as well as theoretical and practical exams in the first and second years.

Entry Requirements

Nurse with dogYou must have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above which MUST include Mathematics, English Language and a Science subject or hold an "Animal Nursing Assistant (ANA)" or "Veterinary Care Assistant (VCA)" qualification (with Functional Skills Level 2 in Application of Number & Communication).  Alternative qualifications of a comparable or higher standard may be accepted, these would be checked on initial enrolment.

Entry requirements for Degree courses will vary according to the University.  Please contact them direct for more information.

For more information visit

Training to become a Veterinary Nurse

RCVS Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing - This qualification comprises a core and two option pathways, one in small animal nursing and one in equine nursing.  You must complete the core units and an optional pathway in order to gain the Diploma.

Students will be required to attend college, and/or be undertaking college-directed studies, for a minimum of 22 weeks over the period of training, which will normally be two years.  There is the opportunity to attend part-time courses that will run for three years.  Courses are run in a number of ways - blocks of study, regular weekly study days or a mix of blocks and weekly days.

Alternatively, you can undertake a Veterinary Nursing Foundation or BSc Honours Degree.  Training takes between three and four years depending on the type of course you choose.

Examination for the VN Degree varies depending on the course provider, but will include written and practical exams and a collection of work-based evidence.

A list of approved course providers can be obtained from the RCVS website

For more detailed information on training, visit the training page at

Skills and Knowledge Required by a Small Animal Veterinary Nurse include:

  • Client communication eg in-patient update, advice on products and services
  • Promotion of Preventative healthcare Assisting with operations
  • Nursing of longer term in-patients
  • Undertaking minor surgical procedures
  • Performing laboratory tests
  • Assisting on reception with client care
  • Dispensing of medication
  • Pharmacology knowledge
  • Radiographs (x-rays)of animals, under the direction of a veterinary surgeon
  • Cleaning to keep disease-causing organisms to a minimum, creating a clean environment
  • Nurse clinic consultations eg "weight watchers", diabetic clinics and dental clinics etc
  • Sterilising of surgical instruments and equipment
  • Teamwork with veterinary surgeons and receptionists


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