VN Council approves new qualification accreditation standards

15 November 2019

At its Wednesday 13 November meeting, the RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council approved a new standards framework for veterinary nurse education that allows for greater flexibility and innovation in how courses are delivered and a greater focus on student empowerment.

A meeting of RCVS VN Council The new standards framework sets out the professional values, knowledge, skills and behaviours that are required of awarding organisations and higher education (HE) institutions that provide the veterinary nursing curricula, the centres (for example, further education colleges and other training providers) that deliver the courses and their affiliated training practices as part of our accreditation and re-accreditation processes.

The new framework focuses on six key standards, which apply across the board to awarding organisations/ HE institutions, the centres and training practices. These standards are: learning culture; governance and quality; student empowerment; educators and assessors; curricula and assessment; and effective clinical learning.

Julie Dugmore, our Director of Veterinary Nursing, explains some of the key changes: “In our previous set of standards there were separate policies and documents for training practices, the centres and the awarding organisations/HE institutions. This now brings all those disparate policies into a unified whole.

“The new standards also place a greater focus on innovation and different types of learning. The previous standards very much assumed that the learning would be done on a face-to-face basis, but we know that, increasingly, student veterinary nurses may be getting the majority of the contact time with their educational institution online and that many institutions have brought in blended learning programmes. These standards recognise this fact and that there are many different ways to learn.

“A greater focus on the student experience is another thing that has really been bolstered in these new standards. For example, we would now be looking for evidence that educational institutions and training practices are providing the support needed for student veterinary nurses to look after their mental health and wellbeing, and that academic and pastoral support is provided to prepare them for independent, reflective practice.

“The new standard will be formally brought into force in January - although for those institutions and organisations that are currently going through the accreditation or re-accreditation process, they can opt to still be assessed via the previous set of standards.”

The new standards were drawn-up by a working group comprising VN Council members Alison Carr, Andrea Jefferies and Kathy Kissick, as well as Julie Dugmore. Veterinary nursing educators were invited to a consultation day in July when they were introduced to the new standards, which were received positively, and invited to give feedback.

Commenting on the changes Kathy Kissick said: “As a former Head of Veterinary Nursing at Myerscough College, I am very glad that we have finally been able to realise and build in the importance of student empowerment into these standards – recognising that veterinary nursing education and training is not just something being done for our students, but something they have a voice and role in shaping.

"Allowing greater choice in the methods and means by which veterinary nursing education is delivered is also a passion of mine and, again, this is something these new standards fully recognise and allow for.”

A handbook containing the new accreditation standards will be published on the RCVS website in due course. In the meantime, the documentation is available to download in the November 2019 VN Council papers.

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