Veterinary Nurse

The veterinary nurse essentially works as an assistant to the veterinary surgeon. The work is often strenuous and demanding. It is not uncommon for the veterinary nurse to be required to work weekends and bank-holidays. The role of the veterinary nurse is of high importance.

The vet relies on the nurse to ensure the smooth running of the surgery and all that goes on in it. The day to day duties of the vet nurse will vary depending on staff structure and the preferences of the veterinary surgeon, but they will generally be expected to carry out some of the following tasks. Assisting the vet in the theatre, ordering drugs, taking x-rays, handling and restraining animals and working with in-patients.

cole at the vet
Creative Commons License photo credit: nate steiner

It is usually the job of the vet nurse to deal with the owners of pets. This can be a particularly unpleasant job if bad news is to be delivered. The bad news will always need to be delivered tactfully, this is a skill that can only be acquired through contact with pet owners.

The job can be both physically and mentally demanding and as with veterinary surgery, it can have a lot of highs and a lot of lows all in one day. This job offers the veterinary nurse the opportunity to meet lots of new people and spend time with animals. The job always has its rewards but it can also prove to be upsetting when confronted with animals that are in distress.

A great deal of training is required for anybody wishing to become veterinary nurse. A voluntary work placement in a veterinary surgery is an ideal way of gaining invaluable experience, and it is also a good way for a person to decide whether or not this is the right profession for them.

Anybody wishing to train as a veterinary nurse needs to achieve five G.C.S.E. passes at grade C or above, including English language and a physical or biological science or maths. These grades qualify the applicant to take the next step in the training process, which is to seek employment in an approved training centre. (a list of approved training centres can be obtained the British veterinary nursing association.)

The training should take two years to complete successfully and from then on the candidate will seek employment as a veterinary nurse.

Alternatively, if the candidate does not possess the required G.C.S.E. grades, they can enrol on the British veterinary nursing association’s pre-veterinary nursing course. This scheme involves working voluntarily in a training centre with a view to passing the relevant exams and then continuing to the final stage of the training process.

The trainees will continue on the usual training route after successful completion of the veterinary nursing scheme. The course will last two years and achieving veterinary nurse status relies upon successful completion of two exams. The exams are based on things taught during the day release at college which is part of the two year training.

Many veterinary nurses choose to specialise in other areas of animal care such as working for the R.S.C.A. or other charities. Training as a veterinary nurse develops many transferable skills widening the choice of career options.

Further information can be obtained by contacting:

British Veterinary nursing association.
Level 15 Terminus house.
Terminus Street.
CM20 1XA.

The Royal College of Veterinary surgeons.
Belgravia House.
62-64 Horseferry Road.