Libby Earle, RCVS head of veterinary nursing, attended the Vetnnet conference in Italy on 20-21 September and reports back…

Travelling to the annual Vetnnet conference for European nurse educators has its bonuses. This year the meeting was in Cremona, famous for its violin- making and fabulous torrone (nougat). The agenda was pretty impressive too, with the regulation of veterinary nurses and free movement of labour to the fore.

In the UK we are seeing a small, but steadily increasing, number of European nurses applying to register. EU Directive 2005/36 sets out the regulations we follow in order to determine whether we can accept a European qualification straight away, or whether some adaptation measures are necessary.

The conference highlighted some interesting issues, including the growth of regulation for veterinary nurses. Ten years ago, the RCVS was the only organisation to maintain any kind of register (the List) of veterinary nurses. Now, at least five EU states have regulated VN registers. Some of these are maintained by government departments (for example, Norway and Sweden) and some by professional regulatory authorities, such as the RCVS and the Veterinary Council of Ireland.

However, the existence of more regulation doesn’t necessarily make it easier for veterinary nurses to move between countries. The question 'What is a veterinary nurse?’ will elicit different responses in different parts of the EU, and some of these differences were explored at the conference. The value of the ACOVENE Dossier of European Competencies for veterinary nurses became ever more evident. This baseline document informs VN programmes in seven countries, but is not yet accepted EU-wide.

At the end of the proceedings, all delegates agreed that more awareness is needed within the European Commission regarding the animal welfare role of veterinary nurses and technicians. This would encourage a much-needed census regarding their role alongside veterinary surgeons.

Identifying veterinary nursing as an occupation is indeed on the European agenda. The EU Commission is currently developing a classification of European Skills/Competencies and Occupations (ESCO) qualifications. The ESCO project reference group for 'veterinary activities’ was launched in the summer and will help to define the various veterinary- related occupations and their associated skills and competencies. Veterinary nursing is, of course, one such occupation and is well-represented. The veterinary activities group is being chaired by a veterinary nurse – Lisa Jarvis from Lantra.

Next year if you are involved in veterinary nurse education at any level and are interested in widening your perspective, the next conference will be held in Paris in September 2013. Keep an eye on for news and details – next year’s CPD could be by the Seine! 

Record revolution at BVNA Congress

Several hundred VNs visited the RCVS stand at BVNA Congress in Telford (5-7 October) to snap up one of our free 'Make your CPD Count’ calculators, which keep the URL for our new online continuing professional development (CPD) record on hand.

The new online record was given the thumbs up by those who were already using it, and a positive reception from those who watched a ‘demo’.

It’s open to any listed or registered veterinary nurse to use. Visit and click ‘register’ to set up your account, and you can start logging all that valuable BVNA Congress CPD straightaway!

RCVS team on the stand at the BVNA congress

• VOL 27 • November 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal