Proposed new framework for post-registration qualifications for veterinary nurses

A consultation, opened by the RCVS on 16th July, requests views from the profession regarding a proposed framework that has been developed for two new post-registration qualifications for veterinary nurses.

Origins of the work

One of the key ambitions of the VN Futures project is to address the lack of career prospects and progression available to veterinary nurses, and work carried out by the Post-Registration Development Group arm of the VN Futures working parties has looked at how different career and qualification paths could be opened up for veterinary nurses.

The proposed post-qualification framework outlined within the survey is the culmination of its work so far, and the project invites input from the profession.

Mixed thoughts

I have witnessed mixed reflection on this so far – both from friends and colleagues, and via social media. The veterinary nursing profession is at a difficult stage – we want to progress, we want to be better utilised and be offered a higher level of responsibility and autonomy – but will a post-graduate qualification help to achieve this, or is it just another exercise to further educate nurses who will still not see their skills used effectively in practice?

Of course it is a positive thing that this is even been addressed and that projects such as VN Futures are investing time and resource into how we can move forward as a profession.

Fundamentals first?

Maybe though, we should be looking at the fundamentals first. The results of the Schedule 3 survey demonstrated – both on the part of vets and nurses – a staggering lack of understanding of the tasks that can be delegated to veterinary nurses. Do we need to be clear in the profession about what nurses ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ do under the current legislation, and offer nurses roles which actually allow them to perform this work, before moving forward with post-registration qualification? Besides Schedule 3, there are also many ‘nursing’ activities that so many nurses don’t get to perform in everyday practice. 

Hopefully over the coming weeks or months we will hear about work that will be carried out to help answer some of the shortfalls in understanding of Schedule 3, and in fact the RCVS have already shared some useful case studies, which you can access here.

Then there’s the old battle of protection of the title ‘Veterinary Nurse’, progress of which seems to have stalled. We keep coming back to a review of the Veterinary Surgeon’s Act (yes, it is a FIFTY TWO year old piece of legislation) and my opinion is that we should consider having secondary legislation to this that specifically addresses veterinary nursing. Anyway, I’ve gone off piste I think.

Advanced practitioner status

Development of advanced veterinary nurse practitioners was one of the topics I raised during a recent talk on ‘The Future of VN Consulting’, and many may feel that this is the only route that will provide the progression for  vet nurses that is so desired. Will the framework suggested provide a route to this level of more autonomous nursing, or is advanced practitioner nursing a step too far for us at this stage of our profession?

Your opinion is important!

I am going to set myself aside some time to complete the survey over the next few days, and I hope you do too. It’s so important, at this pivotal stage of veterinary nursing, that our opinions are heard, and that can only happen if we contribute to such requests for feedback.

To read the news story on the RCVS site, and access the survey, visit their website here.

This article was written by Jill Macdonald