Veterinary Nursing - Level 3 Apprenticeship

As an Apprentice you will have a job and earn a wage whilst learning all the skills, knowledge and behaviours necessary for a successful career within the veterinary industry.

The Veterinary nurse Apprenticeship Standard combines developing your under-pinning knowledge in veterinary nursing by attending Writtle University College for one day a week, with building your practical experience by being employed in the industry. Over the duration of the course you will build up an electronic portfolio to demonstrate your practical skills and sit both theory and practical exams.

You will:

  • Work for a minimum of 30 hours per week at an RCVS approved Veterinary Training Practice.
  • Get paid a minimum of the Apprenticeship Wage.
  • Study in a flexible way - students attend College one day a week and work with their employer for the rest of the week.
  • Complete work-related tasks and assessments.
  • There are both theory and practical exams that you must complete
  • Receive mentoring visits in your workplace from your Writtle University College Training Officer, who will provide support, assess and review your progress.
  • Gain the L3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing which is essential to you becoming an RCVS registered Veterinary Nurse.

Course Content

The apprenticeship provides a mix of in-depth underpinning knowledge, practical skills and behaviours that will produce a highly qualified and employable apprentice.

Topics include:


The veterinary nurse will require a comprehensive understanding of:

Legislative compliance and regulatory requirements

  • The RCVS Day One Competences for Veterinary Nurses
  • The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct and its associated guidance
  • Organisational requirements and legislation related to a veterinary business and animal welfare
  • The aims of effective health and safety within a veterinary practice

Comparative functional anatomy for veterinary nursing practice

  • Anatomy and physiology in relation to veterinary nursing practice
  • Normal form and function of body systems in a range of species
  • The relationship between normal form and function and the effects of disorder in disease processes and the consequent nursing requirements of sick animals

Infection control in veterinary practice

  • The role of infection in animal and human health
  • The principles of disease transmission in veterinary practice
  • The principles of disinfection and sterilisation
  • How to maintain personal hygiene especially in relation to cross-infection
  • The principles of infection monitoring and control

Materials, equipment and resources

  • Correct usage, handling, storage, maintenance and disposal materials, equipment, instruments and veterinary pharmaceuticals
  • The principles of record keeping

Veterinary Nursing Care

  • The principles of medical veterinary nursing and support
  • The principles of surgical veterinary nursing and support including anaesthesia
  • The principles of pharmacology and administration of medication

Emergency and critical care

  • The principles of first aid
  • The principles of nursing support and the triage, stabilisation and treatment of emergency patients
  • Nursing requirements of critically ill or injured animals
  • Intensive nursing care techniques and requirements for a range of species

Diagnostic techniques for veterinary nurses

  • The principles of radiography and imaging techniques
  • How to take and process radiographs
  • How to handle and store diagnostic images
  • The function and use of laboratory equipment
  • How to collect, prepare and test pathological samples
  • How to prepare specimens for transportation


  • The principles and methods of effective communication and their effect on client care
  • Factors affecting working relationships with clients and within the veterinary team


  • The principles relating to evidence based approaches to learning
  • Personal and professional limitations
  • How to seek and use feedback and advice


The veterinary nurse will comply with RCVS Day One Skills for veterinary nurses and be able to:

Legislation affecting practice

  • Work within the requirements of the health and safety legislation
  • Work within the requirements of the data protection legislation
  • Follow relevant operating procedures and manufacturers guidelines when using equipment, materials and pharmaceutical products


  • Communicate effectively, appropriately and accurately using a variety of methods
  • Conduct nursing clinics

Clinical skills

  • Prepare and maintain all areas of the veterinary practice at all times
  • Prepare records, equipment and resources
  • Work in a safe and effective manner
  • Manage and perform effective infection control procedures
  • Provide nursing support as required
  • Prepare, use, maintain, store and dispose equipment, pharmaceuticals and materials appropriately


  • Manage own performance and development
  • Take measures to improve performance and competence
  • Engage in continued professional and personal development
  • Use professional standards of practice to self-assess performance


  • Practise in accordance with the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct


The veterinary nurse will abide by the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for veterinary nurses and

Work within legal and ethical limits

  • Conform to approved procedures
  • Work ethically in veterinary practice


  • Work reliably to high standards
  • Adjust to change
  • Take responsibility for personal and professional behaviours and decisions
  • Develop and maintain effective working relationships
  • Communicate effectively including the use of empathy and sympathy where appropriate


  • Maintain a professional appearance and follow Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocols
  • Take responsibility for own development
  • Apply knowledge and skills effectively
  • Prioritise and plan work


  • Commit to learning and professional development
  • Identify and implement measures to improve performance and competence
  • Accept and act on constructive advice and guidance, seeking clarification to recognise own limitations

Further details on the course content can be found on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website.

Entry Requirements

  • 5 GCSEs at Grade 9-4 or A*-C
  • Must include English (Language), Maths and Science
  • You MUST be in paid employment as a Trainee Veterinary Nurse within an approved Veterinary Training Practice.

What are the progression options?

After completing the level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship, our Apprentices have the option to continuing study by progressing in to Higher Education or alternatively the Apprentice can progress in to full time employment within the industry.

How do I apply?

An apprentice needs to be in paid employment, so whilst you can apply for the Apprenticeship before you find an employer, you'll need to be employed before you can start the course. Many of our Apprentices already worked or volunteered for the companies who then decide to support them through their Apprenticeship. Our employers range from large local authorities and national contractors to micro companies. We are always happy to provide your employers with the information they need regarding potentially employing an Apprentice and can offer advice, however small or large businesses may be.

I don't have an employer

If you are interested in becoming an Apprentice, but don't have an employer please visit our website for tips on how to find an employer and to see a list of our current Apprenticeship vacancies.

I have an employer

If you have secured or are already in relevant paid employment with an employer willing to support you through the apprenticeship please complete the application form.