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Veterinary Nursing
Golden opportunity for progress
  1. Liz Branscombe, DipAVN, RVN
  1. RCVS, Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF
  1. e-mail lbranscombe{at}

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Last year marked 50 years since the first training course was offered in veterinary nursing, and the profession celebrated in style, writes Liz Branscombe, chair of the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council. But, she says, it wasn't all about champagne and backslapping: the anniversary also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the progress that veterinary nursing has made towards becoming a fully accountable profession in its own right, and to stress the need for this to be recognised in statute.

THE theme under which the jubilee year was planned was one of ‘looking back and stepping forward’. This gave us the chance to consider the roots of the profession and celebrate the achievements of those whose contribution could be measured in considerable numbers of decades – such as Jean Turner and Jill Dent, who were presented with the inaugural Veterinary Nurses Council Golden Jubilee Award and an Achievement Award, respectively, at RCVS Day 2011. The theme also lent momentum to our future aspirations: nurses were keen to see their profession take a step forward as it moved into its next half-century.

When the Veterinary Surgeons Act came into being in 1966, veterinary nurse training (or animal nurse auxiliary training, as it was then) had only been established for five years. There was no way of predicting the invaluable role that veterinary nurses would later play within the practice team, and so it is not unreasonable that they were not mentioned in the Act. This was remedied to an extent in 1991, with the introduction of Schedule 3. This provides for veterinary surgeons to delegate medical treatment and minor surgery to veterinary nurses whose names appear on a List held by the RCVS. But there are two key issues here: the List is not regulated, so while only those holding certain …

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