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A first step into a career in animal care: Open Colleges’ Veterinary Nursing skills workshops

by Pete

Open Colleges holds face-to-face Skills Workshops for online students to help them gain the skills they will need when they move into the Veterinary Nursing industry. Here, several students share their stories with us.

How do you study a practical course like Vet Nursing online? In a new, innovative project, a group of Open Colleges veterinary nursing students attended a “simulated skills development” workshop at the University Veterinary Centre to experience what it might be like once they are employed in the animal care industry.

This special one-day workshop was designed to give online students the opportunity to learn and practise new skills, so they would have a real-life advantage when entering work placement or employment, once they have finished their online studies.

Even though all these students are studying online at their own pace, they still enjoyed the chance to meet up with other students and their trainer, Dr Kim Ticehurst, who is a Registrar in Veterinary Anaesthesia. She was also very enthusiastic about the students attending the first workshop, held in Sydney.

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The event in Sydney was held at a Veterinary Nursing Clinic

“They get a chance to meet other students, they get a chance to meet some of the trainers, and they get the chance to practise some valuable skills,” Dr Ticehurst said.

Students who attended the workshop loved the hands-on experience. One student, Samantha Read, remarked that the workshop was “really good” and that it helped her in “getting practical skills”.


Online Open Colleges Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing student, Terri, attended the Skills Workshop

Samantha commented that it was “really beneficial to network” with the other students. She said that she hoped to stay in contact with other students from the workshop so that they can help each other during their studies. Samantha wants to use her skills and Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing to work at a zoo or for the RSPCA.

The veterinary nursing workshop was designed to teach students practical veterinary nursing skills in a relaxed, hands-on environment. During the day students were taught how to fold drapes, wrap surgical packs and instruments, as well as the correct technique for ‘gowning and gloving’.

Want to watch the video of the Veterinary Nursing Skills Workshop? Click on this link.

Students also learned how to set up anaesthetic machines and how to monitor them during a procedure. They also learned clinical pathology skills including how to prepare slides for examination. And, there was also morning tea, which was well earned.

“These skills were selected because they are core to the duties of a veterinary nurse,” Dr Ticehurst said. Students would graduate with a significant advantage having practised them in a professional environment.

Another student who attended, Erica Fairleigh, agreed that attending the workshop was worthwhile.

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The students enjoyed the opportunity to meet each other on the day and practise their vet nursing skills

“It’s a really good way to learn,” Erica said. The online component “made it really easy and really flexible so I could work at the same time”.

Erica said that she is “really passionate about animals” and the workshop was “a really good way to learn.”

Fellow student Terri Gray also said that the workshop training day was beneficial. Terri is enrolled in the ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

“I’ve always been really passionate about animals and (working with them) has been something that I’ve wanted to do since high school,” Terri said. Her dreams were “side tracked” for a while but the online learning environment worked well for her.

“Being online, it is a perfect opportunity. You do the theory part at home and you’ve got the instructors to help if you get stuck. Then you do all your hands-on learning during work placement,” Terri said.

Veterinary nursing is one of Open Colleges’ newest and most popular courses. According to the Australian government’s Job Outlook website, animal care industries are growing and the demand for qualified veterinary nurses has been increasing for the past ten years. They say, “Employment for Veterinary Nurses (towards the year) 2017 is expected to grow strongly.”

The Certificate IV of Veterinary Nursing opens the door to a variety of professional opportunities in scientific and technical services, private veterinary practices and animal hospitals. It is also a great stepping-stone to further study specialising in emergency, dental or surgical veterinary nursing.


Although the students at the skills workshops did not handle animals on the day, many of them aspire to step into a vet nursing career

With Open Colleges it’s easier than ever to do something you love, Skye Whyte says. She encourages anyone wanting to pursue veterinary nursing as a career to consider the course.

“Step into it,” Skye says. “Just make that change now.”

Skye attended the skills workshop and is looking forward to developing her career in animal care.

“I was in an industry for nine years and had to get out of it.” Being able to study online allowed Skye to return to a field she loves.

Online study provides the ultimate in study flexibility.  Many students choose the online study option because they are able to maintain full-time work or other commitments while gaining their accreditation.

Course trainers Dr Ticehurst and veterinary nurse Sally Lee, who presented the skills workshop, are also available should students have difficulties with course materials.

Vet nurse Sally Lee has completed both the ACM20110 Certificate II in Animal Studies and the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. She has extensive experience in veterinary practice from monitoring anaesthesia to practice management and including working with native wildlife.

As course instructors, Dr Ticehurst and Nurse Lee are backed-up by the Learning Support team. This means that, no matter what the difficulty might be, there is always someone available who can help. Learning online with Open Colleges is never an isolated experience. There are so many different ways to connect, to gain advice and support for your studies.

Need more information?

If you want to step into veterinary nursing, find out what’s included in the ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing here.

OR watch this video from the vet nursing skills workshop. Open Colleges has several courses in animal care, to find out more, go to the Open Colleges website

Photo credits: University of the Fraser Valley, NorthStar VETS and Kelly_Davis.

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