Veterinary nurse

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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
Specialisations:
Job prospects: Average 
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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

Veterinary Nurses can expect to earn between $460 and $652 per week* depending on the type of work they undertake and the organisation they work for.

*ABS Census (2006)

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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 qualified veterinary nurse you can access training at TAFE.

The Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing is available from Bentley and Geraldton TAFE campuses. The course usually takes two semesters (12 months) to complete.

You can also become qualified to work as a veterinary nurse through a traineeship, which combines workplace training with paid employment. Training may be delivered entirely in the work place, or some aspects of training may be delivered on the premises of a registered training organisation, such as a TAFE. The traineeship normally takes 24 months.

If you are still at school

You can access a traineeship through your school. You generally start your school based traineeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work.

Talk to your schoolʼs VET Coordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools.

Studying Science at school will help you in your further studies.

If you get a full-time traineeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

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

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. Visit the ApprentiCentre to find out more.

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

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