CAFRE to become Northern Ireland’s first VetSkill centre

Plans have been approved for the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) to become the first VetSkill Centre for the delivery of Veterinary Nursing Training in Northern Ireland.

VetSkill is a CCEA-approved awarding organisation that provides specialised training, primarily to the veterinary industry.

In 2019, the college launched its Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Companion Animal) qualification, which CAFRE has secured approval to deliver from September 2020.

The new VetSkill course will replace the current City & Guild Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing which CAFRE has offered up until now.

City & Guilds announced plans to withdraw veterinary nursing from its portfolio of qualifications in January.

The new qualification, which covers cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs, will provide learners with the practical competence and underpinning knowledge required to join the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Register of Veterinary Nurses (RVN).

The two-and-a-half-year course has been designed to develop Veterinary Nurses that have a holistic approach to their work, a passion for making a difference to the lives of companion animals, and a solid understanding of their professional responsibilities.

The course’s content includes:

  • Principles of Veterinary Nursing Care;
  • Diagnostic Principles;
  • Pharmacology and Dispensary Management;
  • Anaesthesia;
  • Theatre Nursing Skills;
  • Surgical Nursing and Patient Care; and
  • Life Stage Nursing Care.

CAFRE has over 20 years’ experience of delivering veterinary nursing training in Northern Ireland. This new partnership with VetSkill will secure a new awarding organisation to continue to ensure local students can remain in Northern Ireland to train and work as a veterinary nurse.

Each September CAFRE enrols 25 new student veterinary nurses. All new students must have already completed at least three months of experience in a veterinary practice to ensure they have a knowledge of the clinical environment which they will be working in and the duties they will be carrying out.

The college is the only centre in Northern Ireland approved by the RCVS, which regulates the Veterinary Nurse profession, to deliver this training.

Siobhán Sheppard, programme manager for veterinary nursing at CAFRE, said: “This Level 3 qualification will provide local students with the opportunity to work while they learn as they progress towards graduating as a Registered Veterinary Nurse.

In CAFRE we work closely with over 60 local CAFRE approved veterinary training practices which employ the students while they attend our Greenmount campus, one day per week for the duration of their training.

“The partnership we have with our training practices is one of support and collaboration to ensure we train the highest standard of nurse.”

CAFRE also offers a Level 2 Animal Nursing Assistant course which trains staff in the auxiliary nursing role for work in a veterinary practice.

The Level 2 course is an entry point for learners interested in this career pathway.

CAFRE is open for applications until June 30 for both courses.