At the May meeting of our Veterinary Nursing Council, members gave final approval to the development of two new advanced veterinary nursing courses that would allow members of the veterinary nursing profession at all stages of their career to develop additional professional skills and knowledge in a designated area of practice of their choice.

The proposals for a new post-registration qualification framework for the profession grew out of a key recommendation of the VN Futures Report and Action Plan ( published in July 2016, which said that the joint RCVS and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) project should ‘canvas opinion on the scope, level and delivery of post-qualification awards for veterinary nurses’. This would aim to open up more and different career paths for veterinary nurses.

The proposals were developed by a Post-registration Qualification Working Group and consulted on last summer. The consultation received a large number of responses from the profession which then fed into further revisions that were approved by the VN Education Committee in April.

VN Council approval was the final stage of the process which will now see two qualifications – a Level 6 Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing and a Level 7 Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing – being developed.

The two new qualifications differ from the previous Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing in that the qualification is smaller, more focused (being a 60 credit qualification rather than an 120 credit one) and specific to the veterinary nurse’s subject of choice, which makes it both more appealing and more manageable to fit around both professional and private life.

Commenting on the decision Racheal Marshall, Chair of VN Council, said: “This is a fantastic development for veterinary nursing in terms of professional development and showcasing the full range of skills and experience that we possess.

“The course criteria that we have approved have already received a great deal of interest from both Further and Higher Education providers. We hope to work constructively with them on developing their courses to ensure that they meet the standards we have set out and that they are maintained over time.

“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, in time, once the qualifications have bedded in and enough members of the profession have undertaken and completed the certificate, they may act as a pathway to a formal Advanced Veterinary Nurse status, similar to the relationship between the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice and Advanced Practitioner status for veterinary surgeons.

Both the VN Education Committee and VN Council will be looking at the issue of this status over the coming years.

Any veterinary nurses or Higher/Further Education institutions who are interested in the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing should contact the RCVS VN Department on or 020 7202 0788.

CPD audit and changes

We are currently undertaking its annual audit of veterinary nurses’ compliance with continuing professional development (CPD), with requests sent out in June.

Under our Code of Professional Conduct, all veterinary nurses are expected to maintain and develop the knowledge and skills relevant to their professional practice and competence and the auditing process is a vital part of measuring compliance levels amongst the profession. The latest audit comes off the back of a decision by VN Council in February 2019 to expedite the referral process for veterinary nurses who have continuously not complied with their CPD requirement for three or more years nor responded to requests to share their records.

A further change to CPD policy for veterinary nurses was made at the June meeting of RCVS Council (having previously been agreed by VN Council in May) that, from 2020 onwards, the CPD requirement for VNs would change from being 45 hours over a rolling three-year period to a more simplified requirement of 15 hours of CPD in each calendar year. Furthermore, Council also decided that use of the new (and currently in development) RCVS CPD platform to record their CPD would become mandatory from 2022 and that the College could also start charging an additional administration fee to both vets and vet nurses who continuously fail to confirm their CPD compliance or respond to requests.

Further details about the changes can be found in the papers for the June meeting of RCVS Council: 

VOL 34 • August 2019 • Veterinary Nursing Journal