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Veterinary nurses – protect your title

Veterinary nursing is a vocation. The time and commitment required to achieve the qualifications to become a Veterinary Nurse are extensive. It follows then that only those who have actually been through the training, gained their qualifications and registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons should be allowed to call themselves Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN). However, currently the title remains unprotected and anyone who puts on the green uniform could use the letters RVN after their name. 

To change this, a Private Members Bill has been submitted to the House of Lords in an effort to protect the title so only those nurses who are qualified and registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons can call themselves a Registered Veterinary Nurse. The move is supported by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

The current training for veterinary nursing is either to follow the Vocational Training route or to undertake Higher Education. Training takes between three and four years and both have minimum entry requirements. Once qualified, a nurse registers with the RCVS, who keeps a list of all the RVNs. The profession has been regulated since 1967, protecting the title takes it another step further.

Veterinary nursing involves much more than simply comforting a pet in distress. RVNs are responsible for a wide variety of tasks including the administration of medical treatment, the setting up of operating theatres and equipment as well as assisting during surgical procedures. On some occasions, RVNs carry out minor surgery. Other duties may include taking X-rays, monitoring patients whilst under anaesthesia and the preparation of prescriptions. Having the correct training and qualifications is absolutely vital to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.

RVNs take their profession seriously. No longer are nurses seen as ‘wannabe’ vets: their role is as significant and integral to patient care as it is for their human hospital counterparts. Protecting the title reinforces the right for animal nursing to be recognised as a speciality in its own right. It will change the way the profession is regulated, requiring RVNs to dedicate an average of 45 hours in every 3-year period to CPD (Continual Professional Development). RVNs will also be required to make relevant disclosures to the RCVS and follow the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurse. As such they will also be subject to disciplinary process, similar to that for a veterinary surgeon.

Protecting the RVN title will not only ensure the highest standards of animal care but will cement the credibility of the profession. To have this bill debated in parliament requires 100,000 signatures. Currently, it stands at just under 20,000. We hope you will consider lending your support to this movement and show your support for the invaluable and irreplaceable service Registered Veterinary Nurses provide.

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