Clinical governance is something that every member of the clinical team should be engaging in, as it is vital to good practice and is also a requirement under the supporting guidance of our Code of Professional Conduct (see clinicalgovernance). However, it encompasses a very wide range of activities and so can be quite tricky to define.

In a nutshell, clinical governance is a continuing process of reflection, analysis and improvement of professional practice with the aim of improving quality of service. Although there are no prescribed activities constituting clinical governance, it is something that veterinary nurses should be engaging in both on an individual basis and as part of the wider clinical team.

It is important to note that clinical governance is not just about reacting to specific crises or a specific example of poor service – it should be undertaken regularly and integrated into everyday practice life. For example, veterinary nurses should be constantly reflecting upon their performance, how they communicate with colleagues and clients and any unexpected or critical events and then make appropriate improvements to their practice and behaviour. Such reflections can be aided by keeping a learning diary which considers actions taken and their outcomes.

Veterinary nurses can play a role in clinical governance as part of the veterinary team, for example, by monitoring and noting client feedback, recording any complaints and by actively participating in clinical discussion meetings. These clinical meetings should be held regularly and involve the whole practice team discussing items such as guidelines, protocols and standard operating procedures and the latest clinical issues that have been encountered and how they were dealt with.

Veterinary nurses can also play a part in the clinical auditing process, for example, by compiling the outcomes of regular clinical procedures and using the results to improve patient care. Further guidance on the clinical auditing process can be found at

Last year we held a free webinar called Clinical governance – how is it relevant to me? presented by RCVS Vice-President Dr Bradley Viner and Veterinary Inspector Pam Mosedale, which looked at integrating clinical governance into every day practice life. You can listen to it again at For the full Code of Professional Conduct supporting guidance on clinical governance please visit

Student enrolment reminder

We have recently become aware of a small number of training practices that have been employing ‘student veterinary nurses’ who are undertaking distance learning with overseas awarding organisations that are not recognised or accredited by the College.

Training practices should be aware that if these students are undertaking any Schedule 3 tasks, they are doing so illegally and will also be highly unlikely to be able to join the Register of Veterinary Nurses upon application. It is also highly unlikely that these distance learning courses will be equipping candidates with the essential knowledge and skills required of a qualified veterinary nurse as set out in our Day One Competences.

Generally, we will only enrol students who are registered for the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing or a UK degree that has been accredited by us. Veterinary nursing students on distance learning programmes are therefore not eligible to enrol with us. However, all prospective further and higher education students MUST be enrolled with the College in order to legally undertake veterinary nursing procedures defined under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Most veterinary nursing qualifications also require evidence that the student has completed basic nursing skills, such as administering medication, monitoring vital signs, taking blood samples and administering fluid therapy. However, all of these procedures – along with a number of others – are classified as either medical treatments or surgical procedures under the Veterinary Surgeons Act. As such, they may only be legitimately delegated to student veterinary nurses who have enrolled with us.

If you are concerned that a student veterinary nurse is studying for an unaccredited distance learning course and is not enrolled with the College, please contact Lily Lipman, Qualifications Officer, on or 020 7202 0788 for further advice.

More details about delegation of procedures to veterinary nurses, including students, can be found in the supporting guidance to our Code of Professional Conduct at uk/delegation.

New social media guidance

At the end of last year we released some new supporting guidance to our Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses on the appropriate use of social media for veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses.

With the ever-increasing popularity of social media – including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube as well as online fora such as – we are reminding registered veterinary nurses that there are a number of ethical, legal and professional issues to consider when using such technologies.

While professional standards for registered veterinary nurses have been firmly established for a number of years, our Standards Committee decided to produce guidance on how such standards should be applied to the digital age because the inherent risks when using social media are not necessarily obvious.

The new guidance sets out the professional standards expected of registered veterinary nurses as well as providing advice on good practice, how to protect privacy, maintaining client confidentiality and dealing with adverse comments from clients.

It outlines that registered veterinary nurses have a responsibility to behave professionally whether offline or online and that inappropriate behaviour on social media could place your registration at risk as the professional standards expected online are no different from that of the ‘real world’.

For example, recent decisions by the courts and other regulatory bodies demonstrate that professionals can be at risk of legal or disciplinary action for unprofessional or inappropriate online behaviour.

Doctors and nurses from the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, for example, were temporarily suspended in 2009 for posting pictures of themselves on Facebook ‘planking’ around hospital premises. In 2010 the Nursing and Midwifery Council also struck off a registrant for pursuing an inappropriate relationship with a former patient on Facebook.

Understanding and applying our guidance should help registered veterinary nurses meet their professional responsibilities and reduce the risks of receiving complaints from clients or others as well as potential civil actions for defamation. You can find the full guidance at

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 30 • February 2015 •