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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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5 VCI-approved courses that lead to a vet nursing career

In That’s Farming’s latest Career Focus segment, we look at veterinary nursing, the hands-on career itself and VCI-accredited and recognised courses in Ireland.

A veterinary nurse is responsible for the welfare, comfort and recovery of animals that may have undergone surgery or trauma or are receiving treatment for medical conditions.

In many cases, they act as a support to other veterinary staff, including surgeons, within the team.

Veterinary nurses are responsible for providing triage and intensive care, along with some surgical, medical and reception duties– depending on a practice’s requirements.

Some responsibilities may include:

  • Wound management;
  • Performing minor medical procedures;
  • Preparing animals for surgery;
  • Performing diagnostic tests (X-rays, blood sampling, etc);
  • Assisting with surgical procedures;
  • Fluid therapy;
  • Administering intravenous medication administrative support.

However, if you are interested in carving a career as a veterinary nurse, it is beneficial to shadow veterinary nurses in an array of veterinary practices to obtain some practical, hands-on experience.

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Some desirable skills and qualities:
  • Interest in and passion for working with animals;
  • People skills;
  • Communication skills – communicate with colleagues and pet owners;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Work well to deadlines and under pressure;
  • Patience;
  • Interpersonal skills;
  • An observant nature;
  • Attention to detail;
  • Good teaming working skills;
  • Administrative skills;
  • Work independently and as a team member where required.
Veterinary nursing courses

To practice as a veterinary nurse in Ireland, you must successfully complete and graduate from a VCI accredited/recognised course to enable you to register with the council.

In some cases, aspiring veterinary nurses may complete a level 5 animal care course, for example, a veterinary assistant course: 5M2768, before progressing to higher education.

Providers of this course say that the course may be of interest to those with a desire to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine and animal care.

One college states that it has designed the course to prepare participants for entry to higher education colleges that offer the degree programme.

As part of this one-year level five, students cover modules, including but not limited to animal welfare, communications, work experience, biology, animal grooming, safety and health at work, and animal anatomy and physiology.

Depending on the educational provider, courses at higher level may vary from three (BSc) to four years in duration, with the latter lending itself to a BSc (Hons) degree.

As part of these degree programmes, students may cover, by means of a combination of practical – including field trips – and theoretical classes, cellular biology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, parasitology, microbiology, disease, and disease processes, and there is also a practical work experience/placement component.

Moreover, it must be noted that qualified veterinary nurses can pursue careers outside of the field. This may include insurance, pharmaceuticals and animal nutrition, for example.

Register with VCI

In a statement to That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, a spokesperson for the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI), said:

“To register on the Register of Veterinary Nurses, you must hold a qualification in veterinary nursing that is recognised for the purpose of registration by the Veterinary Council.”

“The below categories of qualifications may be automatically recognised by the Veterinary Council for the purpose of registration.”

These include the spokesperson highlighted:

  1. i) Qualifications awarded by universities or institutions in Ireland that are accredited by the Veterinary Council of Ireland.
  2. ii) Qualifications awarded by universities or schools that are accredited by the Accreditation Committee for Veterinary Nursing Education (ACOVENE).

“Qualifications in veterinary nursing that are not recognised by the Veterinary Council for the purpose of registration do not entitle a person to be registered to practise in the state.”

Recognised institutions and programmes of veterinary nursing in Ireland for registration

Technological University of the Shannon (Formally AIT) Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing (BScVN)
Dundalk Institute of Technology Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing (BScVN)
Atlantic Technological University (Formally LYIT) Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing (BScVN)
St. John’s Central College QQI Level 6 Advance Science (Veterinary Nursing)
National University of Ireland (UCD) Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (DipVN)


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