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VetSkill VN Diploma FAQs
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VetSkill Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal) – FAQs

Following the announcement of our move to awarding body VetSkill for new student veterinary nurses starting from January next year, you may be looking for more information about the VetSkill Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal).

Here, we discuss the course in more detail and answer common questions you may have…

Who are VetSkill?

VetSkill is an Ofqual and CCEA approved awarding organisation and professional regulatory body, offering a growing portfolio of qualifications for delivery by approved centres. VetSkill is authorised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) as a regulatory body to maintain a register for Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) to prescribe and supply veterinary medicines classified as POM-VPS and NFA-VPS. You can read more about VetSkill’s work on their website.

Is the VetSkill qualification approved by the RCVS?

In May 2018, the qualification was given official provisional accreditation by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as a Licence to Practice qualification. Students achieving this qualification may apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses.

Why should I study this diploma?

This qualification offers a number of unique benefits, namely:

Employer-led learning

The qualification has been developed following consultation with training providers, veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to ensure it is fit for purpose and produces veterinary nurses with the necessary skills and competences required in today’s veterinary practice.

Streamlined content

The programme supports learners by focussing on the practical RCVS Day-One Skills and Competences and underpinning knowledge relevant to the role of the Registered Veterinary Nurse, whilst encouraging a holistic approach to nursing in the profession.

Embedded SQP training

Embedded within the qualification is the training required for students to become a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) for companion animals, allowing candidates to register for both RVN and SQP-C status on the successful achievement of the required assessments.

Embraced technology

An e-Portfolio is completed by students to to evidence their practical competence against the RCVS Day One skills.

What does the qualification cover?

The VetSkill Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal) covers cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs. Throughout the programme, you will undertake the following units:

  • Professional Veterinary Nursing Responsibilities
  • Diagnostic Principles
  • Principles of Veterinary Nursing Care 1
  • Pharmacology and Dispensary Management
  • Practical Veterinary Nursing Skills 1
  • Anaesthesia and Theatre Nursing Skills
  • Life Stage Nursing Care and Support
  • Principles of Veterinary Nursing Care 2
  • Surgical Nursing and Patient Care
  • Practical Veterinary Nursing Skills 2

You will note that there is not a unit dedicated to Anatomy and Physiology. Instead, this is embedded throughout each of the units to encourage sequential and practical learning. Read more about the course content

How will I study this qualification?

You can study the qualification on a day release (attending college one day per week) or block release (attending college in blocks) basis, depending on which centre you wish to study from. Approximately a third of the course content is delivered online. The rest of your time will be spent gaining practical experience in veterinary practice; either through employment or work placement. Additionally, you can also undertake this programme as part of an apprenticeship.

How is the qualification assessed?

You will undertake a variety of assessments including online examinations, assignments and case studies. You will also complete an e-portfolio over the course of your training, as evidence of practical competence. At the end of year one there is a formative practical assessment. Final practice examinations (OSCEs) are on successful completion of all other assessments. Read more about course assessment

What are the entry requirements for this course?

You must have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C (or 9-4), including English Language, Mathematics and a Science subject to register as a Student Veterinary Nurse with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and start this programme. If you do not meet the GCSE requirement, there are alternative qualifications that may be acceptable.

The work-based nature of the course means that, in addition to meeting the entry requirements, you will also need to either:

  • have completed a minimum of two weeks’ work experience in a veterinary environment within the last 12 months (non-employed students), or;
  • have secured employment within an RCVS approved TP or aTP that is willing to support you through the qualification (employed students).

Students who are already employed in a veterinary practice looking to undertake this qualification must be at least 16 years of age. Non-employed students must be a minimum of 19 years of age on the 1st of the month in which the course starts. Please note non-employed students who are 16 years of age or over and hold the Level 2 Diploma for Veterinary Care Assistants qualification are welcome to apply.

What if I don’t hold UK qualifications?

If you have alternative or international qualifications, and would like to know if these will allow you to undertake the diploma, please contact our administration team for advice.

If you are coming to the UK to study you should have proof of competence in the English Language by holding either the ESOL qualification at levels C1 or C2 or IELTS at a minimum score of 7.0 where your international qualifications were not taught and assessed in English. You will also be required to have your foreign qualifications officially translated into English with a notarised stamp.

If you are from outside the EU or European Economic Area and wish to study in the UK, you must obtain a Tier 4 Student Visa – visit our International Students page for further information.
View the entry requirements in full

Can you tell me more about the Veterinary Nurse Apprenticeship?

This programme can also be undertaken as part of an apprenticeship. In addition to the above entry requirements you will need to be living and working in England for at least 50% of your time and employment must be in an RCVS approved Training practice. You will need to be earning at least the National Minimum Wage for Apprentices.

Your course fees will be paid for by your employer and will vary depending upon if your employer is consider to be a levy or a non-levy payer. Find out more on our website.

What are the progression opportunities for VetSkill diploma students?

The VetSkill Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal) allows learners to apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses and use the post nominal term RVN. Entry onto the register allows you to legally practise as a veterinary nurse under the direction of a veterinary surgeon. Candidates can also register for SQP-C status on the successful achievement of the required assessments.

A shortage of registered veterinary nurses in the UK means that job prospects once qualified are excellent.

Many veterinary nurses choose to remain in first opinion practice; others pursue different opportunities such as working in referral practice or large veterinary hospitals in more specialist roles. Other career routes could include sales, research, management, teaching or rehabilitation (some of which may require further training in specialist areas). Some veterinary nurses also choose to top up their diploma level qualification to the RCVS Advanced Diploma in Veterinary Nursing or a BSc (Hons) degree.

Is veterinary nursing the career for me?

Veterinary nursing is a natural choice for those with their minds set on working with animals. In any given day you could find yourself involved in a variety of different tasks, including:

• Preparing animals for surgery and performing minor surgical procedures
• Monitoring anaesthetised animals
• Nursing sick animals and administering medication
• Taking x-rays and carrying out diagnostic tests
• Advising owners on the health and welfare of their pets
• Taking bookings, payments and completing necessary paperwork
• Running nurse clinics, such as diet, worming and grooming consultations

Read more about whether veterinary nursing is the career for you

Can I become an RVN without being an SQP?

Registering as a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) for companion animals is not a requirement for entry onto the RCVS Register for Veterinary Nurses; however, the VN diploma offers the opportunity to do so following successful achievement of the required specific SQP assessments.

Can I become an SQP without being an RVN?

If you do not pass the VetSkill Level 3 Diploma qualification but you are successful in passing the SQP elements of this this you may be an SQP but not an RVN.

You do not need to be a Registered Veterinary Nurse in order to undertake SQP training. The VetSkill Level 4 Certificate for Suitably Qualified Persons (SQP) – Companion Animal is available as a standalone qualification, and is aimed at anyone looking to prescribe and dispense POM-VPS and NFA-VPS medications to companion animals.

When can I apply to start training?

Applications to start the VetSkill Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal) in January 2020 from all of our centres are open now.

Visit our website to find out more and apply

The college will be holding a roadshow of information events for employers, clinical coaches and prospective students. These are free to all including those of other providers and will be held at Edinburgh (28th October), Leeds (29th October), Wigan (30th October), Huntingdon (4th November) and at North London (5th November). The briefings will start at 6pm and will include an update on the Apprenticeships for Veterinary Nursing. Visit our website to book

We also run a number of open days ideally suited for students seeking career and training information about veterinary nursing. Visit our website to book onto an open day.

If you have any further questions about the new qualification or VN training please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us on 01480 422060 or emailing Additionally, follow us on social media to be the first to see any new updates and information about our Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing:  

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