First opinion nursing – a focus for further qualifications

First opinion nursing – a focus for further qualifications

 

Earlier this year the RCVS asked for feedback on the proposed changes to the current vet nurse Advanced Diploma – see the news here. The qualification requires re-validation as all qualifications do on a regular basis and this has fallen at a time when VN Futures is looking at career progression and education of vet nurses. 

This has resulted in some possible changes to the qualification including moving the academic level up to a Level 7 qualification and opening up the possibility of shared modules with the vets CertAVP qualification. So far, so good.  

I have already given my feedback to the RCVS through their survey so what I wanted to raise awareness of here was the subject areas that are proposed for the diploma to cover and more specifically one big area that was missing: 

First opinion vet nursing 

We are used to seeing advanced qualifications be based around medical or surgical nursing or ECC or anaesthesia. While all these are worthy CPD routes it strikes me that not everyone may want to become a ‘specialist’ nurse in a specific clinical area and although I have done advanced training in some of these areas myself I consider myself very much a first opinion nurse. A good (I hope!) all-rounder who moves from behavioural first aid in the waiting room to ECC nurse in the prep room and lots in between.  

First opinion, primary or general care whatever title this area is given is sometimes neglected for the specific training needs it has and there are a few facts to support the need to have a ‘general specialist’ qualification for vet nurses: 

 

  • This is where most vet nurses and vets are employed 

 

  • Most cases seen don’t ever need a ‘second opinion’ so a complete care journey is achieved by these practitioners 

 

  • The knowledge held by staff is not ‘general’  

 

  • These practices provide valuable training and support for student vets and nurses 

 

There are also the non-clinical aspects of first opinion vet nursing to consider. It is often the nurses who provide the administrative support to allow a practice to function and this covers everything from pet insurance claims to rotas. There is often a level of financial skill needed in sourcing new products and keeping the practice prices competitive but making a profit. First opinion vet nurses are also key in ensuring great communication between the team and with clients and finally as ever I do believe all vet nurses are leaders. 

With all these necessary skills to master and I’m sure you’re thinking of many more right now could it be time to harness suitable training under a First Opinion specialism? 

Could we see a GP AVN qualification added to the RCVS plans for the Dip AVN and bring together the skills needed – nursing, business, management, customer care communication and leadership? I really hope so as we need to be proud of the quality of first opinion care we provide in the UK and celebrate it.