As part of Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, we’d like to highlight the important work of Veterinary Care Assistants (also known as Animal Nursing Assistants) in veterinary practice.
Veterinary Care Assistants work alongside veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses to provide supportive care to sick, injured and hospitalised animals. The work is varied and offers great career progression, with many VCAs going on to undertake further on-the-job training or study veterinary nursing.
Today, we’re exploring the role of Veterinary Care Assistants and Animal Nursing Assistants in more detail, including the training options and career progression opportunities available:
What do Veterinary Care Assistants do?
Veterinary care assistants are important members of today’s modern veterinary team. They work alongside veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to provide vital nursing care, ensuring that the wellbeing of small animal patients is paramount. As part of the role VCAs and ANAs may be involved in:
- Exercising, grooming and feeding hospitalised animals
- Monitoring and providing supportive care to inpatients
- Preparing theatre and relevant equipment
- Cleaning and preparing accommodation for animals
- Restraining animals for treatment using Fear Free techniques
- Reception duties, including advising clients on preventative health care e.g. flea treatment
- Record keeping
What progression opportunities are available to Veterinary Care Assistants / Animal Nursing Assistants?
Veterinary Care is a rewarding career and many veterinary care assistants undertake additional qualifications within the role to boost their skills and experience. Some VCAs undertake the Level 2 Certificate in Assisting Veterinary Surgeons in the Monitoring of Animal Patients Under Anaesthesia and Sedation qualification in order to help assist veterinary surgeons with the monitoring of companion animals under anaesthesia and sedation.
There are also opportunities for VCAs who have reception duties to study additional qualifications in veterinary reception or customer service. In addition, many training providers offer short courses and events open to VCAs looking to progress in their role and network with fellow delegates, such as our annual VCA Congress.
Veterinary Care Assistants also have the option to go on to train as a veterinary nurse if they wish to do so. VCAs/ANAs who successfully complete one of our veterinary care qualifications, alongside a full level 2 qualification in English and Mathematics (i.e. GCSE Grade C or above/Functional Skills Level 2), will meet the academic entry requirements required to apply for our veterinary nursing diploma.
How do you become a Veterinary Care Assistant / Animal Nursing Assistant?
Gaining a recognised veterinary care qualification and building up practical experience working in a veterinary practice will help you enter the veterinary care industry. For example, at The College of Animal Welfare we offer the following routes into veterinary care:
This qualification is aimed at those entering the veterinary care industry for the first time with no formal training or experience. This course covers all the basics such as handling and restraint, maintaining equipment, animal health and anatomy and more.
This qualification is designed for those working in a veterinary care support role. During the programme you will learn the relevant practical skills and underpinning knowledge needed to provide a good level of support to the veterinary nurse and veterinary surgeon.
As a veterinary care apprentice you will work in a veterinary environment providing supportive care to small animal patients. You will gain practical on-the-job skills whilst studying for your apprenticeship via online distance learning.
There are not usually any formal academic qualifications required to start training as a veterinary care assistant. However, many training providers will look favourably on qualifications in Maths and English, in addition to some experience working with animals. Many veterinary care programmes also require you to be working or volunteering in a veterinary practice before applying for a course. You can gain advice and guidance about how to find work in a veterinary practice on our website.
Start your career as a veterinary care assistant today
If you’re looking for a rewarding job in a veterinary practice that offers the opportunity to progress, have you considered becoming a Veterinary Care Assistant? Whether you’re just out of school and looking to kick-start a career with animals, have always wanted to work with animals and looking for a career change, or unemployed and looking to get back into the industry, veterinary care could be the perfect career for you. You can find out more about our veterinary care qualifications on our website.