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Time running out for VN NVQ

9 November 2009

The veterinary nursing NVQ will be phased out in summer 2010 when Ofqual introduces the Qualifications and Credit Framework. As such, the RCVS Awarding Body (which has responsibility for VN qualifications) now needs to develop a new award that meets the needs of both employers and the VN profession.

According to Awarding Body Chairman Jacqui Molyneux, demand for qualified VNs currently outstrips supply, with Training Practice availability one of the limiting factors. “Although the quality of VNs qualifying via the NVQ route is agreed to be excellent, the level of paperwork for practices seems overwhelming,” she said.

So, despite the extremely tight timelines it is working within, the Awarding Body has seen this as a positive challenge: to produce a new qualification that reduces bureaucracy for practices, enables more students to train and makes it easier for practices to become Training Practices.

Following an initial consultation over the summer, a first set of proposals was put out to wider consultation during October. These proposals set out the following new ideas for VN training:

  • opportunities for school-leavers to become full-time students without the need to have a TP place straight-away;
  • the concept of Auxiliary TPs, to allow those without the required case-load to take on student VNs, working in conjunction with other practices to fill work-experience gaps;
  • a broader range of work experience, including farm animal;
  • an increase by a third in the educational component of the course; and,
  • the replacement of the exiting portfolio with an online experience-tracker system similar to the veterinary Professional Development Phase.

“As with any new thinking, not all of the ideas have been popular, and the second phase of consultation was, helpfully, well responded to,” said Jacqui. “Over 400 replies were submitted.”

Jacqui explained that one area needed clarification however: “Although we propose to remove the Equine VN written examination – which is not cost-effective due to the small number of students – there will remain the option for VNs to focus on equine nursing as part of their practical rotation options.”

The role of mentors in practice also featured in responses, as did changes in the type of assessments to be made, and a fear that the move to offer a full-time student option would remove the existing part-time route. “This is not the case,” confirmed Jacqui.

“We’ll respond to all the comments we’ve had, both positive and negative, and work to develop a qualification that meets as many needs as possible. Inevitably there will be some compromise, but with such a good dialogue now established with those involved, we hope the new qualification will tick as many boxes as possible,” she said.

Further comments on the draft units will be invited in the spring. In the meantime, some detailed Q&A on the new proposals are available from the VN Department.

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