Guernsey veterinary careers

Career as a Veterinary Surgeon

Good Veterinary Surgeons are vitally important to any Veterinary Practice. In order to become a Veterinary Surgeon you need a veterinary degree from a university. At the moment there are seven universities in the UK offering veterinary degrees. Veterinary universities are located at Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and most recently, in Nottingham. The veterinary course lasts from five to six years, depending on the specific university.

Academic requirements for entry are high and are different for each university. Generally three 'A' levels are required in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths and the grades required are high and are generally A's and B's. A wide range of GCSE's are also required including Science, Maths and English. All the veterinary universities require applicants to have work experience before they apply either in a Veterinary Practice or else on a livestock farm.

The veterinary course covers all the domestic species including cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, birds and exotics. Specialisation may be undertaken at a later stage but only after qualifying.

After obtaining a veterinary degree, a new vet must then be registered by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in order to practice. This is the governing body for all vets in the UK and ensures that certain minimum standards within the profession are maintained. This regulation safeguards the health and welfare of animals and the interests of the general public. Once a vet is registered with the RCVS, they can use the letters MRCVS after their name signifying Membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Career as a Veterinary Nurse

Many clients may wonder what training a Veterinary Nurse has undertaken at the Practice. We are proud of our staff and it is important that our clients recognise the skills, abilities and dedication that they possess.

Isabelle Vets is a well-established and successful Training Practice (TP) for Veterinary Nurses - there are currently around 1,500 TPs in the United Kingdom & Channel Islands. The pass rate at Isabelle Vets is impressive and this can be attributed to dedicated, hard-working student nurses and the supportive training staff.

What is a TP (Training Practice)?

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) dictate certain strict criteria that have to be met to become a registered Training Practice (TP). As Isabelle Vets is accredited as a tier 2 practice under the RCVS Practice Standards scheme, we have the facilities required, and we have a busy and varied caseload, which is also important. As a TP we are inspected annually to ensure that standards are maintained. 

Also, each TP must have members of staff that have been trained to act as clinical coaches to the student veterinary nurses (SVNs). Isabelle Vets currently has two such clinical coaches who undertake to assess SVNs during their practical skills training.

How to become a qualified & registered veterinary nurse

The student veterinary nurses train to achieve the RCVS Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. The qualification comprises a number of core units for two-thirds of the course, and the remainder on either a small animal or an equine pathway.
You must have a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade C or above which MUST include Mathematics, English Language and a Science subject or hold an ‘Animal Nursing Assistant’ (ANA) or ‘Veterinary Care Assistant’(VCA) qualification (with Functional Skills Level 2 in Application of Number & Communication).  Alternative qualifications of a comparable or higher standard may be accepted, these would be checked on initial enrolment.
College courses (in the UK) involve either a two year course or block release study. The two year course involves attending college for one to three days a week over a year, and then doing s further year in a veterinary practice learning practical skills – this type of course is usually not practicable for Guernsey students due to the organisation of the first year. Block release study is undertaken by students already working in a TP, and is usually run over two or three years. There would be 4 or 5 two-week blocks at college each year, and for the rest of the time the students learn and practice clinical skills at the TP under the direction of a clinical coach.

Work based clinical skills will be recorded using an electronic Nursing Progress Log (NPL), which provides a record of all the clinical skills that the students have learned, practiced and reached competence in.

You will also undertake a number of different examinations and assessments by the RCVS and your college which will include RCVS written and practical examinations, college examinations and assignments and work based assessments.
Alternatively, you can undertake a Veterinary Nursing Foundation or BSc Honours Degree (this is equivalent to the level 3 Diploma). Entry requirements for Degree Courses will vary according to the University, but typically include 5 GCSEs as above and an A-level in Biology. Training takes between three and four years depending on the type of course you choose, and also involves time in a training practice.
Achieving the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing will qualify the trainee as a ‘Registered Veterinary Nurse’ who will be listed with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.  The qualification is highly regarded and allows the holder to work not just as a veterinary nurse in Practice but will open many doors in jobs in research facilities, Universities, charities and the pharmaceutical industry. Veterinary nurses can also continue their studies to attain a Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing.

What does a veterinary nurse do?

A ‘Registered Veterinary Nurse’ may undertake a number of tasks under the direction of the Veterinary Surgeon, including:

  • Nurse consultations – suture/staple removal, nail clipping, repeat doses of medication, weight monitoring & diet advice, senior pet clinics, etc.
  • Dressing changes
  • Administering medication
  • Nursing of in-patients (general, intensive, barrier)
  • Laboratory test procedures
  • Taking blood samples
  • Radiography
  • Anaesthesia monitoring (with a Veterinary Surgeon present)
  • Theatre assistance (during surgical procedures)

ALSO: They may administer any medical treatment or minor surgery (not entering into a body cavity) under the direction of a Veterinary Surgeon”, (as quoted from ‘Veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 – advice on Schedule 3).
When a student nurse is training, they may perform any of the above procedures, providing a Veterinary Surgeon and/or a qualified veterinary nurse is supervising them.
For further information on Veterinary Nursing, you can visit the following websites:

  • British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA)  
  • College of Animal Welfare (CAW)
  • Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) 

The Directors of Isabelle Vets ensure that the training of its nursing staff is to a high standard, ensuring that the Practice provides clients and patients with a professional  and caring service.

Career as a Veterinary Receptionist, Administrator or Nursing Assistant

A Veterinary Receptionist is a key person in the team of any Veterinary Practice. The Veterinary Receptionist is generally the first point of contact that a new or existing client will speak to on the telephone or meet when they visit a veterinary practice. Sometimes they need information or reassurance that their pet will receive the best care and attention. The Veterinary Receptionist creates the first impression for a client of the Veterinary Practice. In addition to dealing with clients.

Veterinary Administrators play a vitally important part of the Practice team by dealing with financial aspects such as invoices, payments, client records, HR and assist the whole practice and are valuable team members. Sometimes no training is required, and the Veterinary Practice may provide in-house training however several external training courses are available.

There are approximately 30 colleges in the United Kingdom who run the Animal Nursing Assistant qualification. There are also other external courses for those interested in becoming a Veterinary Receptionist.

Please feel free to speak to staff at Isabelle Vets to find out more about all the different types of veterinary careers and visit us at the annual Guernsey Careers Show at Beau Sejour.

Veterinary Schools


Veterinary Admissions Clerk
University of Bristol, Senate House
Bristol BS8 1TH
Tel: 0117 928 9000


The Department Secretary
Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine
University of Cambridge, Madingley Road
Cambridge CB2 0ES
Tel: 01223 337600

The Cambridge Intercollegiate Applications Office
Kellet Lodge, Tennis Court Road
Cambridge CB2 1QJ
Tel: 01223 333308


Admissions Officer
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
University of Edinburgh, Summerhall
Edinburgh, EH9 1QH
Tel: 0131 650 6130


Admissions Officer
University of Glasgow Veterinary School
464 Bearsden Road, Bearsden Road
Glasgow, G61 1QH
Tel: 0141 330 5700


The Admissions Sub-Dean
Faculty of Veterinary Science
University of Liverpool
Liverpool, L69 7ZJ
Tel: 0151 794 2000


The Head of Registry
The Royal Veterinary College
Royal College Street
London, NW1 0TU
Tel: 020 7468 5000
Visit the RVC careers website


The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
The University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Sutton Bonington
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD
Tel: 0115 951 641

Veterinary Nursing


British Veterinary Nursing Association
82 Greenway Business Centre
Harlow Business Park
Essex CM19 5QE
Tel: 01279 408644
Fax: 01279 408645


College of Animal Welfare
Administration Centre
Headland House, Chord Business Park, London Road, Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, PE29 2BQ
Tel: 0844 372 9410
Fax: 0844 372 9411


Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Information on Veterinary Nursing

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