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The College of Animal Welfare

Career Development for Veterinary Nurses

10 Career Development Opportunities for Veterinary Nurses

So you’ve achieved your veterinary nursing qualification and joined the RCVS register of veterinary nurses…now what?

It’s well documented that career opportunities for qualified veterinary nurses are excellent. Here, we look at just a few opportunities for career development for veterinary nurses…

  1. Top Up your veterinary nursing qualification to degree level

Following the launch of our Veterinary Nursing BSc (Top Up) programme, diploma level veterinary nurses now have the opportunity to top up their qualification to degree level. Studying at degree level offers a range of benefits, including achieving eligibility for Companion Animal Suitable Qualified Person Status (C-SQP), pursuing specialist interests in project and dissertation modules, developing skills in research and academic writing, and paving the way to further postgraduate training at masters or even PhD level.

  1. Land a great role in veterinary practice

Many veterinary nurses choose to remain in first opinion veterinary practice, however there are also options for RVNs with a particular interest to work in specialist practices (e.g. feline, equine, reptile or large animal practices), emergency vet practices, referral practices (e.g. orthopaedic, cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology) or veterinary/university hospitals. You could also become a locum veterinary nurse and gain experience in a range of different veterinary environments. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out the CAW Jobs Board.

  1. Undertake further veterinary nurse training in a specialist area

Nurses must continue to study and log professional development hours to maintain their registration throughout their careers. This means there is plenty of opportunity to pursue professional interests and undertake specialist training in a range of topics, particularly the care of exotic pets, feline medicine, anaesthesia and dentistry.

  1. Join the education industry

Many RVNs use their qualifications to pass on skills and expertise to the next generation of veterinary nurses in education roles such as lecturing. Teaching positions can vary widely, but veterinary nurses who choose to take up a role in education might be writing and developing course content, presenting lectures, workshops and practical teaching sessions, providing student support and guidance, assessing and moderating students, or undertaking research and representing educational institutions at conferences and exhibitions.

  1. Work towards a leadership or management role

If you’re looking for leadership and management opportunities within veterinary practice, you could become a head nurse or even work towards becoming a veterinary practice manager over time. The Veterinary Management Group (VMG) can provide more information about management opportunities and training.

  1. Become a Clinical Coach

Beside every great veterinary nurse is a great clinical coach, who supported them through their formal training and helped them develop their practical skills in practice. If you’re passionate about veterinary nursing and keen to help others flourish in the industry, you could consider training as a clinical coach and help to train student nurses in practice. Find out more about Clinical Coach training

  1. Pursue a sales role

Another career route you may take once you have qualified as a veterinary nurse is working for one of the many companies and service providers that supply the veterinary industry as a sales representative. Becoming a veterinary sales representative is one of the less-recognised career paths open to veterinary nurses. It offers a fantastic opportunity to travel, meet new people and help veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and other professionals to deliver better care to their patients.

  1. Spend time working abroad

Do you want to the opportunity to travel the world whilst gaining valuable skills as a veterinary nurse? Whether you’re a newly qualified veterinary nurse looking to gain more experience, have been working in industry for years and fancy taking on a new challenge, or just want to do something good with your time off – taking on a voluntary placement abroad could be for you! Volunteering worldwide is a great way to use your veterinary nursing skills to help animals in need.

The Worldwide Veterinary Service is an animal welfare charity that provides opportunities for vets and veterinary nurses to volunteer their skills and experience on placement in countries including India, Thailand, Peru, Malawi, South Africa, Costa Rica – and many more.

  1. Train in rehabilitation

As a qualified veterinary nurse, you could grow your career by training to become a veterinary physiotherapist or hydrotherapist. Rehabilitation following veterinary referral can help animals recover following surgery and from a variety of conditions such as pack pain, sprains, strains, fractures and sporting injuries. It has become a growing service within specialist veterinary hospitals, referral centres and first opinion practices. You can visit our career profiles to find out more about how to pursue a career in veterinary rehabilitation.

  1. Undertake academic writing and research

If you have studied to become a veterinary nurse at degree level, you may wish to pursue a career in conducting and publishing research. This work is essential to developing veterinary nursing techniques and championing evidence-based practice. You could also take your academic development in a new direction by speaking at industry congresses and events. If you have a creative flair, you could also aim to become a freelance writer. You could even start your own blog!