How to become a Veterinary Nurse

We asked RVN Lucy Thompson to give us her insight on how she started out in the profession and trained to be a Registered Veterinary Nurse:


My journey as a Veterinary nurse started nine and a half years ago, where I was fortunate to find a job as a patient care assistant in a small, first opinion veterinary practice. From there I was then enrolled at college, where I officially enrolled with the RCVS and could be called a student veterinary nurse (SVN). My course was spread over three years, with me attending class once a week, whilst working full time. At the end of the three years in order to qualify I had to sit several practical, timed assessments (OSCES) as part of my final exam. Only once these exams were passed did I receive my Registered Veterinary Nurse status (RVN).

Veterinary Nursing can be a very rewarding job, with something new every day to see. Veterinary nurses can work within a range of different settings, from first opinion small animal clinics, to large referral hospitals.

Most patients seen and treated in practice are dogs, cats and small furries such as rabbits and guinea pigs. However some veterinary practices will treat/specialise in other areas such as farm, equine or exotics. I.E: snakes, birds etc.

As a veterinary nurse you’ll play a vital support role within practice to veterinary surgeons as well as clients, regarding their pet’s wellbeing and health care.

The job is very hands on and can be physically demanding. For example restraining animals and being on your feet most of the day.

Some practices may require you to work out of hours to cover any emergencies. Most will want you to work some weekends and bank holiday shifts.


Most courses taken to qualify as a veterinary nurse range from 2-3 years, with some university courses taking as long as four years to qualify.

Once qualified though, in order to maintain your professional status under the RCVS.  You will be required to undertake 15 hours a year of CPD (Continuing professional development)

Studying veterinary nursing can be gained whilst working in a practice full time, where you attend class once a week. Your veterinary practice will often enrol you onto a course once you have worked in practice a while and have gained some practical experience first.

Or you can study veterinary nursing via the degree route. Here you will be required to find a placement within a veterinary practice. This is in order to gain your practical, hands on experience as part of your course. These placements in practice are often unpaid.

Several weeks of work experience within a veterinary practice will need to be completed before applying to study veterinary nursing. Other animal care related qualifications gained prior to applying, may also be an advantage.

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