Equestrian careers: Veterinary nurse

ArticleHow to - CareersWednesday 11 January 2012
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So, you want to work with horses but have no idea where to begin. It would be an exaggeration to say that there are an infinite amount of careers available in the equine industry, but safe to say there are many more than you might imagine. In this series of ‘how to’ articles, we take a look at a few and see if we can inspire you and point you in a new and previously unexplored direction.

What does it involve?
Based in a veterinary practice, a veterinary nurse supports the vet throughout the day. An ability to be able to work on your own initiative is invaluable, as is being able to work as part of an often small and tightly knit team. The nurse is usually the link between pet owner and surgeon, so good communication skills are vital. In more progressive practices, nurses can be given more ‘paraclinical’ roles, such as carrying out minor surgical procedures and X-rays. There is scope for progression for veterinary nurses who may wish to become practice managers, and as with vets, it is also possible to specialise in equine work.

What qualifications do I need?
First of all, you need to have worked as a full time, paid employee, for a minimum of two years, in an Approved Training and Assessment Centre (ATAC) or Training Practice (TP). Secondly you must complete an NVQ portfolio in Veterinary Nursing at levels 2 and 3. Finally, you have to pass two sets of exams as set by the RCVS. Bristol University runs a four-year course that will give you a VN diploma as well as a BSc in Veterinary Nursing and practice management. Although the road to becoming a veterinary nurse is shorter than to become a vet, the work expected of you is just as demanding on your time, so dedication is key.

Where do I start?
You need to have gained grade C or above in your GCSEs, in subjects including English Language and a science or mathematics. If you don’t have these it is possible to do a pre-veterinary nursing course instead.

Who can I contact to find out more?
British Veterinary Nursing Association 
The British Veterinary Association 
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons 
Veterinary Admissions Clerk, University of Bristol - 0117 928 9000

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