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Veterinary nurse

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Summary of occupation

Veterinary nurses assist in the diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases, illnesses and injuries. They are responsible for the welfare of the animals who stay at the veterinary clinic or surgery, and usually feed, water, clean and exercise them. They will also administer drugs, conduct tests, check stock and order drugs and other veterinary supplies, and undertake other administrative and reception duties.

Veterinary nurses may take and develop x-rays, collect blood samples, prepare animals for surgery, assist during surgery, or run support services such as animal weight loss clinics or dog training classes.

ANZSCO description: Cares for animals under treatment or in  temporary residence at veterinary facilities and assists  Veterinarians to perform procedures and operations.
Alternative names: Animal Nurse, Veterinary Assistant
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A veterinary nurse needs:

  • a love of animals
  • the ability to handle and interact with animals
  • an interest in biology
  • good communication skills
  • organisational skills
  • manual dexterity
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Working conditions

Veterinary nurses usually work in veterinary clinics, surgeries or consulting rooms. They work as part of a team alongside other veterinary nurses and doctors, and may be expected to work irregular hours. As the work often involves sick animals it may be unpleasant at times, and can involve liaising with clients about their pet's illness or death.

Veterinary nurses in Western Australia may work in urban or suburban veterinary clinics, or may be involved in the farming industry in regional areas like the Wheatbelt or the Kimberley.

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Salary details

On average, veterinary nurses can expect to earn between $676 and $835 per week ($35 147 and $43 399 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a veterinary nurse develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Veterinary nurses work often alongside veterinary doctors or surgeons during operations and other medical procedures, and as such are usually required to be familiar with the equipment and instruments used during these procedures. These may include ultrasound and radiographic machines, and surgical equipment like forceps, clamps, scissors and scalpels. Most veterinary nurses will also need to be familiar with general medical equipment like thermometers, stethoscopes and otoscopes. Some veterinary nurses may also need to be familiar with specialised animal orthopaedic equipment.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a veterinary nurse you usually need to complete a formal qualification in veterinary nursing.

The Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing is offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The veterinary nurse and veterinary nurse (equine) traineeships usually take 24 months to complete.

To work as a veterinary nurse in Western Australia, you must obtain professional registration with the Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of Western Australia.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Related links

Related videos

Vet nurse Video Vet nurse Occupation

Veterinary nurses assist in the diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases, illnesses and injuries.

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