A New Era for Veterinary Nursing

The role of the veterinary nurse has expanded and with it the need for a team of well-trained, competent and caring nurses; this, in turn, has placed a great demand on students, colleges and practices.

Central Qualifications aims to make training and professional development more accessible and an integral part of veterinary practice. Training the next generation of veterinary nurses not only benefits the individuals and the practices, but is essential for the future success of the profession as a whole and ultimately for animal welfare.

Fulfilling the needs of the profession

Motivated by the belief that ensuring animal welfare starts with the continual improvement of the education of everyone working in practice, CQ strives to provide the highest standards of vocational learning and to develop qualifications that reflect the current – and changing – needs of the profession.

The New Era initiative was launched in 2010 with a survey to determine whether there was a requirement within the industry for a fresh approach to veterinary nursing training. The survey targeted the veterinary industry as a whole and subsequently enabled the profession to help shape qualifications that fulfilled the needs of employers and students alike.

Following the survey, it was identified that there was significant support from the profession for new veterinary nursing qualifications – in particular, for training programmes that were practice-based, placed an emphasis on practical competencies and reduced the concentration on administrative paperwork. Consequently, taking into consideration the feedback gained from the consultations, a new veterinary nursing qualification was formed – the CQ Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, in both small animal and equine disciplines.

In 2011 – the same year that veterinary nursing celebrated its 50th anniversary – CQ became the first independent awarding body to offer a veterinary nursing qualification.

A fresh approach to training

CQ strives to improve accessibility and quality of training in the profession. With direct input from veterinary practices and education consultants, the DipVN has been designed in response to the current needs of the industry and as deliverable within the working practice.

CQ provides flexibility for Centres to use different delivery styles and structures of teaching for the DipVN, whilst also providing a greater level of guidance for both students and tutors. CQ also encourages a team-based approach to training, with multiple coaches and tutors; therefore, dependency of teaching, coaching and mentoring is removed from the individual, and instead, allows students to benefit from the experience of an entire team during their education.

Innovations in learning

To aid Centre delivery and student learning, CQ have developed an online system for recording clinical assessments. The Central Skills Log (CSL) is a work-based learning and communication tool that forms an integral part of a student veterinary nurse’s development. Every practical task within the DipVN is featured on the CSL and accompanied by explanatory notes, providing clarity and guidance to the student, as well as standardisation across Centres.

Furthermore, on completion of practical tasks, students are able to upload pictorial and media evidence via smartphone, tablet or web, as well as monitor their progress and record achievements. The system supports and encourages the use of any media form, thereby increasing the quality of evidence recorded.

The CSL also supports CQ’s team approach to learning. All members of the practical teaching team can access a student’s record to monitor progress and update data. Verifiers can additionally view interactions between the student and clinical coach/practical tutor, and verify that the evidence uploaded meets the requirements of the qualification.

The future of veterinary nursing is bright

The New Era for Veterinary Nursing initiative focuses on better care for animals through wider education programmes, as well as providing further opportunities for veterinary nurses in practice.

Two pre-veterinary nursing qualifications – the CQ Diploma for Veterinary Nursing Assistants (DipVNA) and the CQ Diploma in Animal Nursing (DipAN) are also available for delivery. Both qualifications utilise the CSL and act as a stepping stone for progression onto the Veterinary Nursing qualifications.