The traditional NVQ 'portfolio' system for student veterinary nurses could be phased out from next summer, under draft proposals from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Awarding Body, which has responsibility for the delivery of VN qualifications.
Proposals include an initial year of full-time college study, during which the student does not need to be employed in a Training Practice (TP), the introduction of compulsory farm animal work experience, the phasing out of the separate Equine Veterinary Nursing qualification and a reduction in practice-based assessment.
The catalyst for reviewing the VN qualification came from Ofqual's plans to introduce the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) from summer next year, which effectively scraps the NVQ in its current form. This gave the RCVS Awarding Body an excellent opportunity to reconsider work-based training for VNs in order to improve its effectiveness and efficiency.
The Awarding Body's proposals, on which comments are invited, aim to reduce bureaucracy for those involved with VN training, increase the number of practices able to take part and improve accessibility of training, ultimately increasing the number of qualified VNs available to the profession.
Under the new proposals, VN work-based training would be a two-year, 70-credit Level 3 qualification, equivalent to 700 hours' learning. The first year of this qualification could be delivered either as a full-time college course, or as a part-time day-release over two years (extending the complete training to three years). The first year would incorporate 25 days' work placement, including small animal, equine and farm animal environments - the first time a compulsory farm animal component has been introduced. This first year of the course could be directly accessed by school leavers, as there is no requirement for them to be employed in a practice.
Students would be employed in a Training Practice for the second 'clinical' year (or third year for part-time students). An online log of practical experience, similar to the Professional Development Phase for new veterinary graduates, would replace the current portfolio, with a more comprehensive end-of-year practical exam. There would no longer be a requirement for practice-based assessors, although students would still need to be supported by an experienced clinical mentor, a role many current assessors may assume.
The economic feasibility of Equine Veterinary Nurse (EVN) training was also considered, with the conclusion that a broader-based primary qualification, with all students carrying out work experience in a range of practice types, was more sustainable.
The number of training practices has long been recognised as a limiting factor in the UK's capacity to train VNs. In addition to standard TPs, proposals have therefore been made for Auxiliary TPs (ATPs). ATPs would be able to employ and train VN students even if they do not have the facilities to provide all of the work experience required: a formal agreement to allow students to fill the gaps at another practice would be in place.
Finally, the proposals include a beefed up range of post-registration education options, allowing Registered Veterinary Nurses to develop, and be recognised, in their own areas of interest. This would help to create a career ladder for RVNs and assist in their retention within the profession.
"The proposals have been developed following a period of consultation with those involved with the delivery of VN training, and with employers," says Jacqui Molyneux, RCVS Council Member and Chairman of the VN Awarding Body.
"Feedback suggests that the current syllabus and training provides competent nurses who are highly regarded within the profession, but that training is overly burdensome for the practices involved. This, coupled with a recognised shortage of both Training Practices and qualified VNs, meant it was appropriate to think more creatively about how the qualification could be delivered. We hope that the draft proposals will be welcomed by both the veterinary nursing and veterinary professions, and would urge people involved to let us know what they think."
The proposals are available on RCVSonline (www.rcvs.org.uk/latestnews ) - please email your comments to Miss Jane Dawson, Project Consultant (email@example.com), by 31 October 2009. It is appreciated that this is a short deadline, however, the time-frame of the QCF is driving development, as is the need to allow colleges and training providers the maximum possible time to develop the new training structure for 2010/11 delivery.
Tails.com makes food specially tailored for individual dogs. When you register with Tails, you're asked a number of questions about your dog's breed and lifestyle. From that, the company then prepares a unique recipe, which is delivered to your door.
As part of the Vet Nurse Programme, Tails is also offering a £6.50 credit on Amazon for every client you refer. They in turn will also receive a free one month trial.
You can sign up to the Tails.com Vet Nurse Programe here. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0203 962 0911.
The RCVS has announced that the Codes of Professional Conduct for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses has been updated to state that you should not refer to yourselves or others as 'veterinary nurses' unless registered.
In fact, the change occurred back in June last year, but was only announced via RCVS News and as a one-liner within the 'Overview of decisions made at RCVS Council'.
The announcement raises the pretty fundamental question of what ARE veterinary surgeons and RVNs to call their unqualified colleagues, if not veterinary nurses? How indeed are those unqualified staff working in veterinary practice to describe their job title to their friends, down at the pub?
VetNurse.co.uk sought to clarify the situation with the College, and the first point to make is that the new part of the CoPCs refers only to the use of the words 'veterinary nurse' when used in conjunction. The words 'nurse' or 'nursing' are not protected at all.
The College says that it is not within its remit to instruct veterinary surgeons or registered nurses as to how they should address unqualified staff, but suggested: 'Care Assistant' or 'Auxilliary'.
However, Ben Myring, RCVS Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer said: "There is nothing to stop someone calling themselves a 'nursing assistant' or a 'head nurse'".
The Codes of Professional Conduct obviously apply only to those who are regulated by it. The title 'veterinary nurse' in unprotected in law and can therefore be used by anyone else.
So, the immediate implications seem to be as follows:
Do you have any other suggestions as to how unqualified nursing staff should be styled? Post them below.
The photograph showed seven naked male student vets holding sheep 'tipped' in front of them so as to hide the students' spare parts.
That anyone should complain about sheep being tipped, a technique which the British Cattle Veterinary Association describes as: "widely recognised as being safe and pain-free for the animals" defies logic. But so they did, and according to The Times, it led to personal attacks, harassment and threats against the students who'd made the calendar.
Worse still was the fact that according to various newspaper reports, the complaint originally came from the Veterinary Vegan Network (VVN), a group of qualified and trainee veterinary surgeons and nurses, who reportedly posted on their Facebook page that the photo was 'deeply disturbing'.
Oh come on. 'Deeply disturbing?' Really? I'd argue that any vet who finds that photo 'deeply disturbing' should be asking themselves whether they're in the right job.
There cannot be a veterinary surgeon or nurse in the country who is not aware of the high suicide rate in the profession, or the problems it is facing with retention, so if the complaint did trigger a backlash against the students involved, the VVN should hang its head in shame and apologise to them immediately. Profusely. As the BCVA said in its statement, the vitriol aimed at the students is "both grossly unfair, unfounded and should be condemned."
The RVC's response was predictably politically-correct: Stuart Reid wrote an open letter apologising to those who'd taken offence. But it was pitched very badly. It was long on apology, long on hand-wringing and long on appeasement. It was jaw-droppingly short of an outright condemnation of those who'd harassed his students. Indeed, according to The Times report, an unnamed vet said the college had "thrown its students under a bus."
We live in an increasingly homogenised, politically-correct world in which people complain at the first opportunity and take offence at anything and everything. Our institutions then seem to fall over themselves in the rush to apologise to the perpetually offended Facebook fruitcakes. We all need to fight this. Stuart Reid, ewe need to grow a pair.
To the students involved in the calendar: well done for making the world a slightly less grey place, and remember that for every one fruitcake, there are a thousand more who support your charitable efforts.
No sheep were hurt in the writing of this article.
The protesters, which VetNurse.co.uk understands comprise six veterinary surgeons and 30-40 pet owners, started their march in Parliament Square and are now bearing down on the RCVS Headquarters in Horseferry Road.
The campaigners are, we are told, protesting against the RCVS position statement on complementary and homeopathic veterinary medicines.
No word yet on how the College proposes to defend itself from the hoard; certainly no sign of any cauldrons of boiling oil atop the battlements, nor any riot police yet in evidence.
More news as it happens. VetNurse.co.uk has a photographer on the ground ...
1:00pm: The protesters have arrived at Belgravia House. A couple of protesters are armed with umbrellas, presumably to guard against the ever-present risk of overdose. It's getting messy: we're hearing that they've blocked the pavement. Wait up. Someone has emerged from the College to speak with them. Well hello, Mr President.
1:01pm: We were hoping that some of the protesters might, I dunno, handcuff themselves to Belgravia House or something. But after a tense standoff lasting over 36 seconds, it looks like the protest is petering out already. Apparently they've started dispersing to the park opposite.
1:02pm: Yup, they've all gone off to the park now. This may go down as one of the shortest protests in history.
1:16pm: Word has it they've headed off to the White Horse and Bower.More photos of this momentous occasion to follow ...
1. The seasoned campaigner is always careful to choose any banner that appears over their head with great care.
2. It was a beautiful march. A big march. The bigliest. Haven't seen that many people on the street since Donald Trump's inauguration.
3. The RCVS headquarters under siege.
4. Millie the dog (perhaps better called 'Millie the anecdote') illustrates the flawed thinking behind homeopathy.
5. Nobody told this campaigner than homeopathy wasn't banned in the first place. You can get it from any tap.
6. RCVS President, Professor Stephen May, presumably wishing he'd taken the day off work.
7. It took some hours moments before the crowd dispersed fully and life in London was able to return to normal.
3.43pm: The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has issued a statement following the march, which says:
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons today met a delegation of around 40 animal owners and veterinary surgeons who wished to voice their concern about a recent position statement by RCVS Council on the use of complementary and alternative medicines, including homeopathy.
President Stephen May and CEO Lizzie Lockett received a copy of an online petition that was set up following the statement, which has since received around 15,000 signatures, including around 11,000 from supporters in the UK.
Stephen and Lizzie also took time to hear accounts and stories from the supporters, and to listen to the points they wished to raise.
In view of the cold, wet weather, the College had laid on some hot drinks for all the visitors, and invited the delegation inside, but these were declined.
Stephen said: "We were pleased to be able to meet our visitors today and to receive their petition, although it was a little tricky trying to answer questions on a busy London pavement!
"We continue to recognise that homeopathy and other complementary therapies are popular amongst some animal owners and certain members of the veterinary profession, as indicated by today’s delegation, but it is worth reiterating that the RCVS Council statement does not ban their use.
"What it does state, is that in order to protect animal welfare, we regard such treatments as being complementary, rather than alternative, to treatments for which there is a recognised evidence base or which are based on sound scientific principles.
"This is similar to the position that we have held on complementary therapies for many years, but we will always be happy to receive and consider scientific evidence that demonstrates their efficacy."
I wouldn't hold your breath.
All photographs ©2018 Under licence to London News Pictures Ltd. +44 208 088 1155
Vet Futures has published a guest blog by Laura Kidd MRCVS which asks how the profession can increase the number of veterinary nurses entering and staying within the profession?
In her blog, Laura, a VN lecturer and clinical skills tutor for veterinary students, argues that the year-on-year increases in the number of veterinary nurses seems to be insufficient to meet demand. Furthermore, there is a trend towards people leaving the profession relatively early, with the average age being just over 30.
She writes: “Identifying the reasons for VNs leaving the profession at a young age and addressing these, is one potential way of increasing VN numbers in the future.”
Laura argues that poor pay, stress, not feeling rewarded or valued and perceived lack of career progression all contribute to people leaving the profession, although she welcomes initiatives from the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), BVA, RCVS and others to increase the status of the profession, create more diverse career opportunities and improve the profession’s mental wellbeing.
However, she adds that: “perhaps we may, reluctantly, have to accept that, for the time-being, veterinary nursing is a young profession with a high turnover.”
With this in mind she suggests that training more veterinary nurses will be the key to increasing the number of qualified members of the profession in the immediate future. In order to do this she believes that more practices need to be supported to become RCVS-approved Training Practices offering clinical training and work experience for student veterinary nurses and that an alternative training pathway for veterinary nurses may need to be looked at.
She adds: “The entry requirements for the VN Diploma are relatively low, yet the qualification is academically demanding: the volume and depth of knowledge is considerable for the level and qualification and the requirement to demonstrate critical reflection through academic writing can be challenging.
“It is regrettable that some student veterinary nurses, who appear to have the qualities to be very good VNs, are lost to the profession, unable to pass awarding body exams. Should we be developing an additional VN training pathway which allows more students to demonstrate they have the required skills to provide high quality nursing to their patients?”
In response to her proposal, this month’s poll will ask visitors “Is there a need for another VN training option?” To read the blog, leave a comment and take part in the poll please visit www.vetfutures.org.uk/discuss
Last month’s poll asked if vets always acted as animal welfare advocates. This was in response to an article by animal welfare expect Professor David Main in which he argues that the profession should do more to demonstrate its animal welfare credentials and introduce safeguards against excessive profit-seeking. Although just 22 people took part in the poll, around two-thirds (68%) of them said that vets do not always act as animal welfare advocates.
ITV's Tonight programme broadcast last night portrayed a veterinary profession in which overcharging is commonplace.
Researchers for the programme took three healthy animals (a cat, a dog and a rabbit) to a number of different vets, telling them that the animals were off their food. The advice they were given varied. In the case of the rabbit from no treatment necessary, to dental work under general anaesthetic.
TV vet Marc Abraham then looked at each animal and told viewers that the correct advice in each case would have been the least expensive.
The programme also highlighted the substantial savings that pet owners can make by buying drugs online, and questioned whether the penalty meted out to a vet that had committed malpractice was sufficient (the vet had been struck off for 14 months, where presenter Jonathan Maitland argued it should have been for life).
Veterinary business consultant Mark Moran said: "So often, vets rely to a large degree on what owners are telling them, and the degree to which they insist the animal is ill, or off its food, will affect the advice and treatment given. Marc Abraham had the luxury of being presented three animals that he knew to be perfectly fit and well."
However he agreed wholeheartedly with the response from RCVS President Jill Nute this morning, that the thing both vets and pet owners need to learn from the programme is "the importance of communicating with each other".
Mark said: "It's a question of managing people's expectations. There'll always be a variance in the advice being given, but being up-front and open will help mitigate the risk of being accused of overcharging".
Click here to watch the programme. Click here to read the reactions to Marc Abrahams' blog
The British Small Animal Veterinary Association is making all the nursing lectures from Congress available free online at www.bsava.com
All the lectures are recorded, and the entire veterinary programme is offered to BSAVA members as one of their member benefits. However, because only qualified veterinary surgeons are able to join the Association, BSAVA is making its nursing streams an open facility - meaning every lecture within the 2010 programme can be downloaded and saved, even if you didn't attend the event or are not a member of the BSAVA.
VetSurgeon member Anthony Todd has started a petition amongst veterinary surgeons and nurses, calling for the installation and routine monitoring of CCTV in all pre-slaughter areas of licensed abattoirs in the UK.
The petition was triggered by a news report in the Daily Mail exposing shocking cruelty to pigs at an Essex slaughterhouse run by Cheale Meats. Staff were seen stubbing their cigarettes out on the pigs' faces, punching them and failing to stun the animals correctly, in undercover footage filmed by Animal Aid.
The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for breaches of welfare at abattoirs, has refused to submit the footage to Defra for prosecution, on the basis that it was filmed illegally.
Anthony said: "Prosecution will automatically follow with legal video evidence.
"The exposure of the Cheale incident was fortuitous and may well be the tip of the iceberg which must be eliminated."
To sign the petition, please visit: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/abbatoir-abuse/
Veterinary Nurse Nick Shackleton has started a campaign to protect the title Veterinary Nurse
The campaign has a section on Facebook where Nick explains: "The title veterinary nurse at present is not a protected title. A lot of people who work in practice call them selves veterinary nurse, when they have no theoretical training in such a position. As qualified nurses we feel that this issue should be addressed so that the general public are no longer confused as to the qualification and hopefully make them more aware of the hard work it is to gain the qualification. As we are heading for autonomy within the profession I think it is right and fitting that the title should be protected."
The group has already gained an impressive 781 members.
In addition, Nick has started a petition on the Prime Minister's website: Number10.gov.uk, which has gained 139 signatories so far.
If you'd like to sign the petition on Number10.gov.uk, I recommend you add the letters after your name (MRCVS / RVN).
According to a report in last weekend's Mail on Sunday, documents leaked from Defra have revealed proposals for a range of measures designed to reduce the risk from dangerous dogs.
The proposals reportedly include:
The first of these looks like being a bit of a non-runner. Aside from the subjective nature of deciding what makes a competent owner, the cost is disproportionate to the size of the problem: 703 convictions for dangerously out of control dogs in 2007. The other two seem long overdue.
Supreme Petfoods Ltd has published the results of tests on small animal petfood which, according to the company, highlight significant problems with the on-pack declarations and contents of a number of the leading brands.
The tests, which were carried out by Campden BRI on behalf of Supreme Petfoods, discovered:
Issues regarding high sugar levels which are not required to be declared under current rules. The highest average levels of sugar were found in Wagg Optimum (4.57%), Beaphar Care + (5.00%), Burgess Supa Fruiti (5.10%), Beaphar Extra Vital (5.35%) and Burgess Excel (4.04%).
In the company's press release, Chris Childs, Managing Director of Supreme Petfood, commented: "The results greatly concerned us. We were shocked to find food that is marketed for rabbits - ie: herbivores - had traces of mammalian and avian DNA in it. In my opinion, this can only be compared to vegetarian food being contaminated with meat. This was our main concern amongst many other issues revealed."
That strikes me as overstating the case somewhat. Aside from the fact that bunnies don't get quite as het up about their diets as vegans, the report does not define what 'trace DNA contamination is'. Going on the shock expressed by Mr Childs, I'm expecting a pork chop or a drumstick in every bag of Burgess Excel at the very least.
Molly Varga, BVetMed, DZooMed (Mammalian), MRCVS told VetSurgeon.org that she would expect rabbits to be exposed to trace amounts of animal DNA naturally and that the amounts found in the tests were not likely to have any effect whatsoever on the health of rabbits. Nevertheless, she did feel that the report highlighted important issues concerning the fibre and sugar content of various diets.
As a consequence of the report, Supreme Petfoods is calling for an overhaul of the rules and regulations which apply to pet food for small companion animals. The company suggests the introduction of an accredited quality scheme aimed specifically at pet food for small companion animals, containing strict conditions for the production, packaging and marketing of food for herbivores.
In response, Burgess Pet Care issued a statement expressing considerable reservations as to the timing, purpose and potential negative outcome for the welfare of pet rabbits of Supreme's report. Commenting on behalf of Burgess, Sharon Redrobe, Head of Veterinary Services, Bristol Zoo Gardens, and Head of Rabbit Clinic, Bristol, said: "Any research into small animal health should focus on the crucial role of fibre in a balanced feeding plan and how this can be communicated to rabbit owners, so discussions centring around the detailed contents of pellets are irrelevant in my opinion to this central welfare issue."
To read Supreme's report, click here.
I invited Marc Abraham to come and answer some of the concerns raised on VetSurgeon about the ITV Pets Undercover programme.
His PR agency has instead pointed me in the direction of a response he has posted on his own website this morning. Click the link below.
Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers and Bulldogs are the breeds most feared by postmen, according to a survey just announced by esure home insurance. More surprisingly, Jack Russells and Yorkshire Terriers also appeared in the top ten list of breeds likely to prevent the mail getting through.
According to the survey, three quarters (74%) of postmen have admitted to finding some dogs on their post round intimidating. In fact over half (54%) of those polled have considered asking for a change to their round due to intimidating dogs and more than a third (37%) have even thought about leaving their jobs completely.
Nearly half (47%) of all postman questioned are frequently growled at, 39% have been the subject of teeth baring and 54% regularly have to endure aggressive barking. Shockingly, a quarter (26%) of postmen have been bitten by a dog on their post round, whilst 23% of those polled have had their clothes damaged when trying to get away from a dog.
In a bid to try and calm down man's best friend and ensure their safety, more than a third (36%) of postmen have offered a dog bones, biscuits and chews. But just under half (44%) admit bribes often don't work as they've had to run away from a dog on their patch.
POSTMAN'S MOST FEARED DOGS: (per cent of postmen)
The long-awaited Panorama programme about the veterinary profession will air on Thursday 22 July at 9pm on BBC One.
Rumour has it that the programme will cover a range of issues, including the role of unqualified nursing staff in the practice, support for new graduates, over-charging in relation to insurance and regulation of corporate practices.
The RCVS says it expects increased public interest in the regulation of the profession following the programme and is gearing itself up to address any concerns it raises. A statement will be posted on www.rcvs.org.uk immediately following the programme, and the RCVS has said that it will work with the British Veterinary Association and other organisations to ensure that the robust nature of the regulatory system is communicated to the public, from undergraduate degrees through the Professional Development Phase and the Guide to Professional Conduct, to mandatory continuing professional development and the voluntary Practice Standards Scheme and Register for Veterinary Nurses.
In a statement issued today, the RCVS said: "We currently receive around 700 complaints a year - about one every 15 years of a member's practising life. It's a record to be proud of. However, if the programme raises areas of genuine concern, we will do all we can to act on them and we have already made it clear to the BBC that we would expect their support in this."
Registered VN Lindsay Newell has been found guilty of six counts
of cruelty to animals at Stafford Magistrates' Court, following an
investigation by the RSPCA.
The charges related to a ewe, two lambs, a Welsh pony, a goat and a pig at the Burton Wildlife and Animal Rescue Centre, a sanctuary founded in 2008 by the 27-year-old nurse in memory of her murdered grandparents.
The pig had made headlines in the Daily Mail in 2012 when Newell rescued it from a Derby council house.
Newell was given a 2-year conditional discharge, ordered to pay £2000
in costs, and disqualified from keeping sheep, equines, goats or pigs
for five years.
Passing sentence, district judge David Taylor said: "These were not
deliberate or intentional acts. They were a consequence of you trying to
take on too many animals of a wide range."
Newell was cleared of 25 other charges of failing to feed the animals in her care properly.
RSPCA inspector Jayne Bashford who led the investigation said: "We are satisfied that the court has found the defendant guilty of six charges of unnecessary suffering. The scene the RSPCA discovered when they visited with Police, Derbyshire Trading Standards and an independent vet were quite shocking.
"This was an extremely disturbing case where there was clear neglect and mistreatment of animals by a registered veterinary nurse.
"I am sure she set up this centre with the best intentions but things got totally out of control."
More on this story
A petition to protect the title Veterinary Nurse has received an impressive 1,285 signatures, including many from veterinary surgeons, and an official response from HM Government.
The petition, which was started by VetNurse.co.uk member Nick Shackleton Dip AVN (Surgical) VN on 6th June last year, explained: "The title veterinary nurse at present is not a protected title. A lot of people who work in practice call them selves veterinary nurses, when they have no theoretical training in such a position. As qualified nurses we feel that this issue should be addressed so that the general public are no longer confused as to the qualification and hopefully make them more aware of the hard work it is to gain the qualification. As we are heading for autonomy within the profession I think it is right and fitting that the title should be protected."
The Government response, whilst predictably noncommittal, did at least seem to recognise the issue: "The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) maintains the Statutory List of veterinary nurses. In order to qualify, nurses must undergo a two-year period of vocational training which is assessed at work and through examination by the RCVS Awarding Body.
On being added to the Statutory List they are entitled to undertake a range of veterinary treatments and procedures on animals under veterinary direction. Only listed nurses are entitled to use the post-nominal letters 'VN'. The RCVS are introducing new arrangements for 'registered' veterinary nurses which provides greater accountability and transparency for those nurses whose names are entered on the register. These arrangements run in parallel with the Statutory List.
Some veterinary practices may employ staff who do not carry out the duties of a veterinary nurse but possibly use that title or wear a uniform which might imply that they are a trained veterinary nurse. We appreciate that there are issues surrounding best practice that the RCVS and the Veterinary Nursing Council to address.
It is generally accepted that the arrangements for regulating veterinary nursing could be modernised. This would, in due course, help provide greater protection for the title of veterinary nurses. Although Defra currently has no plans to undertake a fundamental review of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, we are regularly in touch with the RCVS to better understand its priorities for regulatory reform.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has embarked upon the most extensive review of its veterinary nursing qualifications for many years, in order to meet the timetable for Ofqual's implementation of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in summer 2010.
The new QCF aims to provide a more user-friendly and flexible system. Under the new arrangements, all qualifications will carry a 'value' in terms of their level and the volume of learning involved. It's a similar system to that used in higher education for a number of years.
The new national awards framework means that NVQs as such will disappear and the process of review opens up the whole qualification structure, allowing for the creation of a more flexible system to suit better the needs of the veterinary nursing profession and employers.
Head of Veterinary Nursing, Libby Earle said: "Future options include potentially placing more of the responsibility for education and basic skills on the colleges, leaving practices to concentrate on providing quality mentorship and work experience, with less emphasis on assessment.
"Consideration will also be given to providing part of VN training and education within full-time further education, which is possible now that the lower age limit for VN students has been dropped."
The College is keen to hear the views of those involved with the delivery of training and employers of qualified nurses. A consultation letter has been sent to those involved and topics on which views are sought include the range and level of knowledge and skills delivered by the current awards, the impact of training on employers of student VNs, meeting the increased demand for qualified VNs, and providing VNs for mixed or equine practices.
Over the summer, evidence-gathering meetings will be held at the RCVS to explore the issues in more depth. Anyone who has not been sent a formal consultation letter and who would like to contribute is very welcome to submit their views. Please visit www.rcvs.org.uk/vnawardsreview for the consultation papers. Comments should be submitted by 30 June 2009.
The review of the RCVS awards will take place alongside Lantra's review of the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for VNs: the NOS describe what a person needs to do, know and understand in their job to carry out their role in a consistent and competent way.
The Daily Mail yesterday published a 'shocking exposé' which portrays the veterinary profession as one that 'puts pets through painful and unnecessary treatments to fleece their trusting owners'
The story is based on an interview with ex-vet Matthew Watkinson to promote his new book: 'On The Destiny Of Species'.
In the interview, Mr Watkinson claims the veterinary profession is to blame for much of the animal suffering in the UK, and that 'money - not the welfare of the animal - is often at the forefront of the vet's mind'.
In the interview, Mr Watkinson
The RCVS issued a swift response, which you can read here.
Later in the day, Mr Watkinson appeared on Radio 5 Live opposite ex BVA President, Nicky Paull. The interview can be heard for the next 6 days on BBC iplayer here.
It is not yet clear the degree to which the Daily Mail might have sensationalised Mr Watkinson's interview. In his blog, he claims it did, but defiantly defends his main argument that the profession is fighting natural selection, and thereby harming animal welfare.
The RCVS has launched its first annual audit of continuing professional development (CPD) for Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs).
RVNs commit to keeping their professional skills and knowledge up to date and must meet a target of 45 hours of CPD over a three-year period.
Letters have been sent to a nationwide sample of RVNs to enable the College to monitor the level and nature of CPD being undertaken. Around 500 RVNs will be asked to submit their last two years' RCVS CPD Record Cards for review; some may then be followed up with requests for more information.
"Maintaining CPD is key to improving standards of nursing care, developing the pool of veterinary nursing knowledge and enabling VNs to further their own careers," stresses Andrea Jeffery, Chairman of the VN Council. "I would urge all veterinary nurses who have received a letter to please send in their completed Record Cards by 1 May this year."
CPD Record Cards, which also include guidance notes on what can be counted towards CPD, are posted annually to RVNs. They are also available to download from RCVSonline at www.rcvs.org.uk/vnregister.
As with veterinary surgeons, poor compliance with CPD obligations would be taken into account in any complaint arising against an RVN. Completed CPD Cards are also considered as part of a Practice Standards Scheme inspection.
Any queries regarding the audit should be directed to the Veterinary Nursing Department on 020 7202 0788 or email@example.com.
Hill's Pet Nutrition is offering a series of free webinars about feline medicine, delivered by some of the best-known experts in the field.
first presentation on feline liver disease will be delivered by Danièlle
BSc PhD MACVSc MRCVS, on the 26th January 2011. Martha
Cannon BA VetMB DSAM(fel) MRCVS (pictured right) will
present the next two webinars on Renal disease on 2nd March and
Chronic Diarrhoea on 4th May. Both speakers are RCVS Specialists in
feline medicine. Norman Johnston BVM&S, Dipl. AVDC, Dipl. EVDC, MRCVS, will
be discussing stomatitis in the cat - a particularly problematic disease - on
the 18th May. Norman is an RCVS, American and European Specialist in
Veterinary Dentistry. The series will end on 8th June with Duncan
Lascelles BSc, BVSc, PhD, CertVA, DSAS (ST), DECVS, DACVS,
Associate Professor in Small Animal Surgery at North Carolina State, talking
about osteoarthritis in the cat.
The events kick off at 8.30 pm and are hosted by the
Webinar Vet (www.thewebinarvet.com). One initial registration
provides access to the complete series, with scheduled e-mail reminders sent
out prior to the latest webinar. To register, go to www.thewebinarvet.com/hills and enter your details as well as the code hillsnl.
Webinars are ideal for time pressed individuals who
may not always be able to travel to a distant venue, yet still offer a 'real-
time' and interactive experience. No special equipment is required, other than
a reasonable standard PC or MAC and a broadband connection. The events are open
to both vets and nurses but early registration is advisable to take full
advantage of the whole Hill's Feline webinar series.
The introduction of the new Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing has seen an increase in numbers of both students and training practices, according to statistics released today by the RCVS.
Since January, the RCVS has approved over 30 more Training and Auxiliary Training Practices, bringing to a total of 1,559 the number of practices approved for veterinary nurse (VN) training. Scope for practices to train student VNs is increased through the emphasis on Auxiliary Training Practices (aTPs), an option for practices without the full facilities or caseload needed for student training. Students at aTPs complete their in-practice training at other aTPs or full Training Practices. Of the 31 new practices approved since January for student training, eight are aTPs.
The number of VN students enrolling with the RCVS has also increased, with almost double the number enrolling in January 2011, compared with January 2010. There were a total of 1,168 student enrolments in the 12 months from 1 February 2010, compared with 1,121 enrolments in the same period from 1 February 2009.
Libby Earle, Head of the RCVS Veterinary Nursing Department said: "The Level 3 Diploma has been in place for little more than six months, yet VN student numbers are already up. This bodes well for the supply of qualified, competent registered veterinary nurses demanded by veterinary practices, and for those keen to enter the veterinary nursing profession."
The qualification was introduced when the government abolished the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) system last summer, forcing a change in the vocational qualifications for VNs. The resulting Level 3 Diploma is designed to better meet the needs of practices, colleges, and students themselves.
Graham Gardner has launched its summer collection of scrubwear in the form updated versions of its Urbane and Easiphit Collections, with new colour combinations added to the range.
The Urbane Collection, pictured right, is designed specifically for the female form. Easiephit is a contempary unisex collection.
Simon Ward, Sales Director said: "Scrubwear is becoming a firm favourite with veterinary staff in the UK. The relaxed comfort offered by scrubs is very attractive to staff, and the smart image of colour coded garments is very well received by managers seeking a unified department look. With the increased stocks and increased colour combinations, customers can now get their hands on the new uniforms more quickly than ever before!"
Other colour combinations are still available as special imports. Non-stocked colour requests will be directed to Grahame Gardner's USA Partners and the sales team will ensure that customers are kept updated as to delivery times.
Both Easiephitt and Urbane have also increased their stocked size range. Grahame Gardner now aim to hold sizes from extra, extra small to extra, extra large.
For further information on Urbane, Easiephitt or Grahame Gardner Ltd, please call 0116 255 6326, or visit http://www.grahamegardner.co.uk/.
Nutricat, a supermarket cat food launched this year, has released the results of a survey which, it says, shows that modern day lifestyles are resulting in British cat owners anthropomorphising their cats.
The survey found that 54% of cat owners believe their cat shares similar emotions to them, 40% sign greetings cards from their cat, and 1/3 say their cat is a better listener than their partner.
Anthropomorphism is nothing new, and since the press release came from a supermarket brand, it would ordinarily have been destined for the 'Deleted Items' folder.
However, one thing caught my eye. In the press release, Nutricat was described as: a new brand of veterinarian approved advanced feline nutrition'.
But it's not just how Nutricat is described in the press release. The title of the Nutricat website is: 'Veterinarian approved cat food', and the words 'veterinarian approved' appear no less than 3 times on the home page. It doesn't stop there. Tesco seems to have got the message too.
So how many veterinary surgeons are required to endorse something in order to claim, reasonably, that it is 'veterinarian approved'. A couple of RCVS Specialists in Feline Medicine? 10 general practitioners? 20? 50? 100?
VetSurgeon.org rang the PR agency for Nutricat and asked the question.
The answer is one.
What do you think? Take part in our poll, here: http://www.vetsurgeon.org/forums/t/9928.aspx
The Kennel Club has announced that the Crufts Best of Breed (BOB) winners in two of the high profile breeds - the bulldog and the Pekingese - failed their veterinary checks, so the breeds were not represented in the utility and toy group judging.
The British Veterinary Association says it welcomed the Kennel Club's initiative to put the veterinary checks in place for the BOB winner in the 15 high profile breeds at all championship dog shows starting at Crufts this year.
The 15 breeds have been identified as having particular health problems often due to poor conformation as a result of having been bred with exaggerated characteristics. The veterinary checks ensure the BOB winners are not suffering as a result of their conformation, such as eye problems, skin disease, lameness or breathing difficulties, which should have been identified by the judge.
Carl Padgett, President of the BVA, said: "Breeding dogs with exaggerated features must be tackled robustly. The veterinary checks are sending out a strong message that dogs with health problems will not win in the show ring, and only visibly healthy dogs will be rewarded.
"Dog showing can be a force for good for dog breeding and education but the veterinary checks on the first two groups at Crufts have highlighted the health problems that all too often affect man's best friend.
"We hope this strong action by the Kennel Club will be a wake-up call to those breeders and judges that still need to embrace the message that health should always be at the top of the agenda."
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