Practices needed to support vet nurse training

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is set to become a centre of excellence for the training veterinary nurses in the north east with the introduction of new courses.

Veterinary Care Assistant and Professional Development Award courses are being introduced at SRUC’s Aberdeen campus with the aim of widening participation and enabling student progression within the field of veterinary nursing.

Students will be taught in a dedicated Veterinary Nursing Skills Hub, fully equipped to ensure ‘gold standard’ practical skills training.

As part of their studies, they will be required to gain work experience in a real-life setting, and SRUC is looking for vet practices which can offer paid or voluntary placements for a minimum of two days a week over one year. 

Professor Neil Foster, Head of Department of Veterinary and Animal Science, said: “At SRUC we pride ourselves on our links with professionals and developing graduates who are ready for the workplace.

“With the expansion of our Veterinary Nursing programmes, we are now seeking additional practices to provide placements for students.  

“This is an ideal opportunity to develop current and future staff members without the commitment of – or in addition to – RVN training.

“It will provide an additional team member with the confidence and ability to carry out daily duties, freeing qualified staff to deliver the work only they can do. 

“These new programmes help to fulfil the British Veterinary Association’s ‘Vet-led Team model’ by providing qualified veterinary assistants and nurses to enhance the work of Veterinary Surgeons.”

The one-year Level 2 Diploma Veterinary Care Assistant (VCA) course, which starts in September 2020, is aimed at anyone with an interest in working in a veterinary practice. 

As well as attending classes two days a week, students will spend a minimum of 600 hours gaining work experience in a practice with a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) or Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) acting as their placement supervisor.

Vanessa Robertson, 27, who has been accepted onto the new VCA course, will complete her placement at the Town & Country Veterinary Group in Bieldside, Aberdeen, where she is currently working as a receptionist.

Practice Manager Karan Adams said: “Having Veterinary Care Assistant students in placements has really benefited us as a practice.

“The course mixes practical and theory learning which means the students are able to help with a wide variety of roles. The assistance they can provide to vets and nurses is invaluable especially on those really busy days when an extra pair of hands is always needed. 

“The students get an in-depth view of what a veterinary practice is like, while learning key skills that will aid them with further studies within the veterinary sector. We support the students when necessary and assist them with their learning, but it doesn’t impact the daily running of the practice.”

From April 2021, a Professional Development Award will also be offered via distance learning. This two-unit bridging programme, which will cover Veterinary Terminology and Animal Biology, is aimed at VCA students wishing to progress on to degree level. 

If you are interested in getting involved with the VCA programme, please contact: Janet Litten or Yvonne Cannon at:

For more information about studying at SRUC, visit:

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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.