Veterinary nurse: job description
Veterinary nurses assist veterinary surgeons in the diagnosis, treatment and care of sick or injured domestic, farm and zoo animals.
You should be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in animal welfare and science (particularly biology).
Veterinary nurses care for animals that are being treated in a veterinary practice. They also help to educate owners on how best to look after their pets.
Responsibilities of the job include:
- administering drugs, anaesthetics and injections
- preparing animals for surgery
- holding and monitoring animals during operations
- maintaining, sterilising and laying out surgical equipment
- cleaning up after surgery
- undertaking diagnostic tests
- preparing and sending off laboratory samples
- taking x-rays
- caring for, exercising and grooming animal ‘in-patients'
- giving advice to owners about caring for and breeding animals
- keeping records
- writing and filing reports
- Private veterinary practices
- Animal centres or hospitals
- Government organisations such as the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
- Animal welfare organisations and charities such as the RSPCA, Blue Cross and PDSA
- Pharmaceuticals manufacturers
Vacancies are advertised online and in newspapers and specialist publications such as Veterinary Record . Voluntary work may be available with larger veterinary practices, animal boarding centres or organisations such as the RSPCA, PDSA, Cats Protection and Blue Cross.
There are routes into a veterinary nursing career for both university graduates and school leavers. Graduates will need a degree in veterinary nursing, accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). For the entry onto the course, a minimum of two A levels ( preferably including biology and another science subject) or 240 UCAS points from two Scottish Advanced Highers or three Scottish Highers are required.
School leavers will need a level three diploma in veterinary nursing – also accredited by the RCVS – and must complete work placements at a veterinary practice that qualifies as an approved training centre. Five GCSEs at grades A*–C, or five Scottish Standards at grades one to three, are required. These must include English, maths and a science subject. A list of approved training providers and qualifications are available on the RCVS website.
Previous experience of working with animals, such as in a veterinary practice or an animal shelter, is advantageous.
- Good teamworking skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Administrative skills