BVA supports new career pathways for veterinary nurses

28 May 2019

In response to the rapid changes in the veterinary environment, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched a vision for effective teamwork between vets and allied professionals today, which reiterates the value of Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) and supports an expansion of their role within the vet-led team.

BVA’s vision, launched during Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month and prepared with contributions from the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), makes nine overarching recommendations on the role of RVNs. These include a renewal of its call for the veterinary nurse title to be protected in legislation and for further clarification on duties that can be delegated to RVNs under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

The recommendations highlight the benefits of incorporating the Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) role within RVN training for small animal, farm animal and equine practice, as well as for expanding the role of RVNs in the provision of general anaesthesia. They also call for consideration of the role of RVNs in prescribing routine flea and wormer treatments and the ongoing management of chronic cases, under veterinary supervision. Within a zoo setting, BVA recognises the potential role for RVNs in repeat dispensing of contraceptive medications, anthelmintic monitoring and treatment and administration of vaccines, after an initial veterinary assessment.

BVA’s timely recommendations recognise that the profession is operating within a rapidly changing environment, including an expansion in the range of allied professionals, concerns regarding veterinary workforce shortages, technological innovations, and changes in the expectations of pet owners, farmers, industry and other clients.

To address these changes and clarify where the responsibility for a patient sits and how it is shared between vets and allied professionals, the vet-led team position also sets out recommendations on:

  • The ‘hub and spoke’ model, with the vet at its heart, to coordinate services for clients and patients with allied professionals;
  • The regulation of allied professionals to include mandatory veterinary diagnosis and oversight and appropriate access to veterinary records as pre-requisites before treatment;
  • Consultation with the veterinary profession on any regulatory changes that may arise as a result of technological or other innovation.

British Veterinary Association President Simon Doherty said:

“Veterinary nurses are amongst the most established allied professionals working within the vet-led team and make an invaluable contribution towards successful medical and surgical outcomes for animals.

“We know that the majority of vets have confidence in the current regulation of RVNs, but we would like to see the title of ‘veterinary nurse’ protected in legislation, in the interests of animal health and welfare and to underline the confidence in the professionalism of vet nurses.

“We fully support a post-registration framework that provides clear career progression routes for vet nurses across all areas of practice, and especially promote careers in farm animal and equine practice where their training is currently inadequate.

“An effective and efficient vet-led team with clear and expanded roles for vet nurses can help deliver better animal health and welfare, improved client care, and more effective use of skills within the veterinary profession. Given the ongoing workforce shortages, a strengthened veterinary workforce also has the potential to ease recruitment and retention concerns for both vets and RVNs and offer improved wellbeing.”

BVNA Junior Vice President Jo Hinde RVN said:

“BVNA strongly supports the vet-led approach as we believe working together as a team is the best way to improve both patient and staff welfare. We are delighted to be working on this project with BVA and are using our best efforts to continue to strive to strengthen the role of the RVN.

“We have always believed the VN title needs to be protected and this is increasingly important as the veterinary profession adapts to new challenges. It is vital that owners can be confident that their pet is being looked after by well-trained and RCVS-registered staff, as well as there being more clarity surrounding Schedule 3 procedures.

“The support for the advancement of the nursing role through post-registration qualifications is a welcome development and we believe this will help enable RVNs to follow their passion for a particular subject and allow them to significantly increase their knowledge in specific areas of interest. When following the vet-led model, this would result in a strong team of individuals with in-depth knowledge that can enhance their patients’ care.”

BVA and BVNA have committed to working on a joint statement on the value of RVNs.

Related BVA policy

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