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Our terms explained

Getting to grips with the terminology used in our investigation process can be a challenge, so we have explained some of the most frequently used terms below, including the main people and committees involved.


Only the Registered Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee (RVNDC) can issue a formal warning to a registered veterinary nurse (RVN). However, situations may arise where either the Case Examiner Group (in deciding that there is no arguable case to progress matters to Stage 2) or the RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee (RVNPIC), in deciding that there is no reasonable prospect of a finding against the RVN should the case progress to an RVNDC hearing, may nevertheless still have concerns about what the RVN has done (or not done).

In these situations, advice may be issued to the RVN, for example:

  • change practice protocols or procedures
  • undertake additional continuing professional development (CPD),
  • reminder about the provisions in the Code of Professional Conduct or supporting guidance.

Advice from the College remains on an RVN’s records and if, in the future, similar concerns are raised, the fact that advice was issued may be taken into account.

Case Examiner Group

A Case Examiner Group is allocated to each concern raised with us. It comprises three individuals: one Case Manager, one RVN Case Examiner and one non-veterinary Case Examiner who, together, carry out the assessment and investigation of concerns raised with us (Stage 1). 

Case Examiners

Case Examiners are either RVN or non-veterinary members of the RVNPIC.

Case Managers

Case Managers are part of the Professional Conduct Department and may be legally qualified. Together with one RVN Case Examiner and one non-veterinary Case Examiner, they make up a Case Examiner Group which carries out the assessment and investigation of concerns. 

Code of Professional Conduct

The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses sets out what constitutes good professional conduct. Further information on specific areas of this is set out in the supporting guidance.

Judicial Review

A request to the Courts that an administrative decision, for example, a decision by the RVNPIC, be reviewed.


Please see our separate note on negligence.


See 'RVN Disciplinary Committee'.

RVN Disciplinary Committee (DC)

The RCVS equivalent of a court where charges are heard against an RVN alleging that he or she is guilty of serious professional misconduct, or that he or she is unfit to practise because of a criminal conviction. The RVNDC hears evidence on oath and witnesses are cross examined.

Although five members may sit, the quorum is three, of whom one member must be an RVN, one a non-veterinary member and one a veterinary surgeon.


See 'RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee'

RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee

The RVN Preliminary Investigation Committee (RVNPIC) is made up of one veterinary surgeon, two non-veterinary members and two RVNs who are appointed to assist the assessment and investigation of concerns.

The RVN PIC meets every 6 to 8 weeks to decide if cases should be referred to an RVNDC hearing.

The RVNPIC Chairman provides a report to RCVS Council at 4 meetings each year.


Professional Conduct Department

The Professional Conduct Department of the RCVS includes legally-qualified staff, Professional Conduct Officers and administrative staff.

The Department manages complaints and provides advice on the Codes of Professional Conduct and is based at the RCVS premises in London.


RCVS Council

The governing body of the RCVS, as provided for in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

Serious professional misconduct

This is a term used to describe conduct by an RVN that is so serious as to warrant consideration of the RVN’s continued registration with the RCVS, ie their fitness to practise as an RVN. This is behaviour that falls far short of that to be expected of an RVN.

A case will be referred to the RVNDC only if there is a real prospect of proving serious professional misconduct against an RVN.


Veterinary Investigator

Veterinary Investigators (of whom there are currently three) are registered veterinary surgeons with appropriate experience (such as approved Practice Standards Inspectors) who we appoint to assist with investigations of concerns raised about RVNs and veterinary surgeons.

Their responsibilities could include visits to veterinary practices and interviews with RVNs about whom concerns have been raised, practice staff; those who have raised concerns and other witnesses.