VN qualifications: how the new system is bedding in
Last year, it was all change for veterinary nursing qualifications, with the end of the National Vocational Qualification and the introduction of a new Level 3 diploma. Claire Millington of the RCVS's Communications Department assesses progress so far
MANY people put a lot of work into getting the new Level 3 diploma for veterinary nurses (VNs) off the ground last year, with colleges, practices and, not least, students in transition from the old award rising to the challenge. All this effort is paying off; the new award is now in place and the RCVS has seen more interest expressed by colleges and practices regarding VN training this year than any other. This is particularly encouraging at a time of educational funding cutbacks.
‘With the new diploma we sought a qualification that was not just new but improved,’ says Jacqui Molyneux, chairman of RCVS Awards, the awarding body that developed the new diploma. ‘Some demands imposed by the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) discouraged practices from training nurses, creating a bottleneck between would-be students and the would-be employers of qualified VNs. Breaking this bottleneck was a priority for the new diploma – we wanted to reduce bureaucracy within practices without reducing training standards.’
Two of the biggest changes have been swapping the paper portfolio for the online Nursing Progress Log (NPL), and changing the role of the in-practice assessor to that of the ‘clinical coach’. An auxiliary training practice (ATP) accreditation option has also been developed for practices that can offer good experience but that do not have the full caseload or facilities needed to train VNs. Such changes, even if for the better, are still change, but, with the Government reworking the entire national framework for vocational qualifications, doing nothing was not an option.
The response from practices and colleges has …