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Welcome to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

I want to be a veterinary nurse

VN with parrot

What is veterinary nursing?

Veterinary nursing is the supportive care of animals receiving treatment within a veterinary practice. A veterinary nurse works as a member of the veterinary team, providing expert nursing care for sick animals. Veterinary nurses also play a significant role in educating owners on maintaining the health of their pets. They carry out technical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, medical treatments and minor surgical procedures, under veterinary direction.

Veterinary nursing offers rewarding career opportunities for people interested in animal health and welfare. The demand for veterinary nurses is steadily increasing and employment prospects are excellent. 

If you are interested in becoming a veterinary nurse, please download the Veterinary Nursing Careers Leaflet from the 'Related documents' box.


Training routes

There are two routes to becoming a qualified veterinary nurse; either via vocational training or via a higher education qualification. Both routes lead to registration as a veterinary nurse.


Vocational training

If you are very practically-minded, and want to get “stuck in” to a job in a veterinary practice, vocational training is probably best for you.

The Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing is a vocational qualification designed to prepare veterinary nurses for professional registration on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Register of Veterinary Nurses. It is available on either a full-time basis or apprenticeship-style alongside a job in veterinary practice. For further information on training and entry requirements, please contact one of the awarding organisations that offer the Level 3 Diploma included in the List of RCVS Accredited Further Education Qualifications in Veterinary Nursing, available to download from the 'Related documents' box.


Higher education

A degree course will take a little longer than a vocational qualification and is more academic, but you will be required to undertake clinical placements in an approved training practice. A degree in veterinary nursing can lead to additional career opportunities, such as research, the pharmaceutical industry and teaching, in addition to work in clinical veterinary practice.

A number of institutions offer full-time integrated higher education courses leading to a Foundation or Honours Degree in veterinary nursing.  Details are shown in the List of RCVS Accredited Higher Education Qualifications in Veterinary Nursing, available to download from the 'Related documents' box. The RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Nursing is also awarded to all graduates of courses accredited by us. It should be noted that candidates for veterinary nurse training must satisfy the entry requirements of their chosen university. Please note that applications for university should be made through UCAS


What next?

Once you’ve decided which route is best for you or if you need more information before you decide, download either the List of RCVS Accredited Further Education Qualifications in Veterinary Nursing or the List of RCVS Accredited Higher Education Qualifications in Veterinary Nursing, available to download from the 'Related documents' box. These contain the details of all the educational institutions that offer qualifications (both vocational and higher education) leading to registration as a qualified veterinary nurse and the centres (colleges) where the training is delivered. Please contact centres directly for more information on the qualifications they offer.


Enrolling as a student veterinary nurse

Prospective vocational and higher education students must register with the RCVS regulatory body, in order to be able to legally undertake certain veterinary nursing procedures (outlined in Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966). Your college or university will help you to do this when you commence your veterinary nursing course.  

If you have a confirmed place on a veterinary nursing course please download the enrolment form from the 'Related Documents' box. Please read the guidance notes carefully and return the form to your college once it is completed. Please do not send your form directly to the RCVS as this will delay your enrolment.

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