Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing - small animal pathway (Apprenticeship)
Before you can register as a qualified veterinary nurse you must complete the L3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing and have your qualification awarded through an approved examination board.
The diploma we teach is awarded through Central Qualifications, an Ofqual approved awarding body who specialise in veterinary and veterinary nursing qualifications.
The Diploma in Veterinary Nursing - Small Animal aims to prepare and support students for a career in veterinary nursing.
The key purposes of the qualification are:
- To give students the ability to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to practice veterinary nursing, safely and competently.
- To allow students to grow as individuals and give them the chance to learn life skills essential for professional development.
The programme includes a balance of practice-based learning and theoretical teaching and use a variety of strategies to ensure students can undertake clinical tasks proficiently.
Clinical placements in veterinary training practices will allow the acquisition of nursing skills and will enable students to become competent and confident in a veterinary environment.
The course runs over two academic years and focusses on the following topics:
- VNSA1 – Operational requirements in small animal practice
- VNSA2 - Professional relationships and communication in small animal practice
- VNSA3 – Small animal functional anatomy and physiology for veterinary nurses
- VNSA4 - Applied animal welfare, health and husbandry in small animal practice
- VNSA5 - Infection control in small animal practice
- VNSA6 - Veterinary nursing care for hospitalised small animals
- VNSA7 – Veterinary medicine supply in small animal practice
- VNSA8 – Diagnostic imaging in small animal practice
- VNSA9 – Laboratory diagnostics in small animal practice
- VNSA10 – Operating theatre practice for small animal practice
- VNSA11 – Principles of supporting anaesthesia for small animal veterinary nurses
- VNSA12 – Practical monitoring of anaesthesia for small animal veterinary nurses
- SAVN13 - Principles of small animal veterinary nursing support
- SAVN14 - Practical small animal veterinary nursing support
- SAVN15 - Principles of small animal peri-operative veterinary nursing support
- SAVN16 - Practical small animal peri-operative veterinary nursing support
- SAVN17 - Veterinary nursing support for emergency and critical care of small animal patients
- SAVN18 - Professionalism and ethics for small animal veterinary nurses
To enrol on the course you should have a minimum of five GCSEs (or equivalent), at grade 4-9 or C and above. They must include:
- A science subject (biology, chemistry or physics)
If you don’t have these qualifications but would still like to study for the diploma please get in touch. You may have equivalent qualifications we can consider.
You will need to provide evidence of your qualifications and testimonials in support of your application. We will judge each application on an individual basis and our decision is final.
To meet RCVS requirements you must be employed for a minimum of 15 hours a week in an approved veterinary training practice.
You must also be physically and mentally able to undertake the full range of tasks necessary to achieve this qualification.
Once we’ve received your application we’ll get in touch with you to arrange an informal interview. You’ll be able to meet our team, have a look round our premises and learn more about the course.
We have strict equal opportunities policies and no one who studies with us will be subjected to unfair discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, creed, age or special needs.
We expect all the students we accept onto the course to attend an induction day prior to the course starting. You’ll find key dates relating to the course below in the key dates section.
The diploma at Abbeydale runs as a day release course over two years. We accept new students each year in September, January and April (numbers depending). Your college day will either be a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Please get in touch if you’d like more information.
The course has 715 guided learning hours and is a mixture of college and blended learning. You can also log on to our virtual learning environment where you’ll be able to access revision notes and practice exam questions.
You must also spend at least 1,800 hours working in your training practice.
Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed by:
- Assignments set by Central Qualifications and marked by our team.
- Multiple choice examinations (five papers in total) set and marked by Central Qualifications.
- An oral examination set and administered by Central Qualifications (English students only).
Your practical skills will be assessed by:
- An electronic work-based progress log (Central Skills Log).
- Practical examination of essential clinical skills (OSCE -Objective Structured Clinical Examination) set and administered by Central.
Your professional behaviours will be assessed by:
- Regular reviews with your clinical coach and our team, against criteria set in the Central Skills Log.
All the examinations take place at our training centre in Monmouth.
If the practice you work in is in England and pays an apprenticeship levy (that is they have an annual payroll bill of more than £3 million e.g. IVC, CVS, Medivet, Linnaeus, Vet Partners), all your tuition fees, awarding body fees and first attempt examination fees (including the end point assessment) are covered by the practice’s levy account.
If the practice you work in is in England and does not pay an apprenticeship levy your employer will need to pay £750* towards your course fees. The government will then fund the balance of the cost of your tuition fees, awarding body fees and first attempt examination fees (including the end point assessment).
If you are not eligible for the apprenticeship programme, you can still complete the qualification as the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.
*These figures may be subject to change. They reflect the level of funding that is available as a result of government policy and are outside of our control.
There is a national shortage of registered veterinary nurses so your job prospects once qualified are excellent. Many nurses choose to work in a general practice but there are also opportunities in referral practices, emergency ‘out of hours’ practices or large veterinary hospitals. You could also specialise in an area such as behaviour or rehabilitation.
After you’ve qualified you could become a clinical coach and help train the next generation of nurses. Your career could also progress into practice management, teaching or industry.
If you’d like to further develop your skills and knowledge you could take an advanced veterinary nursing diploma, a BSc veterinary nursing degree or an MSc in veterinary nursing.
Once you’re qualified, you’re responsible for your own continuing professional development (CPD) to make sure your skills and knowledge stay up to date. There are short courses and other qualifications you can take, most of which are designed specifically for registered veterinary nurses’ CPD.
1. Career-focused courses with great employment prospects
We’ll help you get your career off to the best possible start. Our course completion and pass rates are consistently well above 90% and are often 100%. Many of our students also progress onto higher qualifications.
2. Hands-on learning with qualified veterinary nurses
All our courses are taught by qualified veterinary nurses who are experienced tutors and who have current veterinary nursing practice. You’ll benefit from their insight and experience and they’ll support you throughout the course to help you prepare for your future career.
3. Personal support before, during and after your studies
Enrolling on a course with us will bring you new opportunities and challenges. We’re here to help you every step of the way. We can help you with your initial application and give you advice and support on careers, fees, funding and academic study.
4. Quality teaching and examination success
We use a wide range of teaching methods with a strong focus on individual and small-group learning. As a result, our course completion and pass rates are consistently high and are often at 100%.
When you’ve completed your course with us and gained your qualification, you’ll be invited to a Central Qualifications graduations ceremony.
This wonderful day is held in Westminster’s beautiful Central Hall. It will give you an opportunity to celebrate your success with your family and friends as you receive your certificate and badge of achievement.
If you’ve completed the Diploma in Veterinary Nursing or the Veterinary Nursing Apprenticeship, you’ll also be invited to the RCVS declaration ceremony. This is an opportunity for you to formally take the following oath:
“I promise and solemnly declare that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and that, ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care."
From here you can wear your RVN badge with pride as your start your new profession.
“I am one of those lucky people who always knew what they wanted to do “when I grew up” - veterinary nursing. October 2019, marks five years of being qualified.
Starting from the age of 14, working weekends, lead on to being offered a job as an ANA straight out of school. I have grown from there, with many tears along the way, doubting myself as I struggled with exams and my dyslexia.
Veterinary nursing is a lot more than it is given credit for. It is tough. It stretches you further than you ever thought you could go, and it proves to you that you are stronger than you ever thought you would be. I have witnessed this since I was 14, when my eyes were opened to people who do what they do because they care.
The teams I have worked with have helped build me into the person I am today, and I have met some of the most important people in my life through this career. I will forever be grateful to so many of them.
I am proud of how far I have come. I work with an amazing team and wonderful people and thank you for all that you do to still make me see that what we do is simply amazing.”
September 2021 (Tuesday college day)
Applications must in in by 31st May, with all supporting documents. If there are any documents or certificates missing, the prospective students will not be interviewed. Prospective students will need to be available to attend an interview on Monday 7th June and the induction day on Monday 12th July. Please note no places will be reserved, if more applications than spaces received then decisions will be made on interview day, this could result in the prospective student starting with the next cohort in January.
January 2022 (Thursday college day) Applications must in in by 1st October, with all supporting documents. If there are any documents or certificates missing, the prospective students will not be interviewed. Prospective students will need to be available to attend an interview on Monday 11th October and the induction day on Monday 6th December. Please note no places will be reserved, if more applications than spaces received then decisions will be made on interview day, this could result in the prospective student starting with the next cohort in April.
April 2022 (Monday college day until August 2022 then a Wednesday college day) Applications must in in by 28th January, with all supporting documents. If there are any documents or certificates missing, the prospective students will not be interviewed. Prospective students will need to be available to attend an interview on Monday 7th February and the induction day on Monday 7th March. Please note no places will be reserved, if more applications than spaces received then decisions will be made on interview day, this could result in the prospective student starting with the next cohort in April.