Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing

About the course

This course is subject to approval.

This course is delivered at University Centre Myerscough and awarded by the University of Central Lancashire.

The course is also accredited by the RCVS for their Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing qualification in one of the following designations:

  • Grad Cert AVN (Surgery & TP)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Medicine)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Dentistry)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Teaching/Coaching/Mentoring)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Anaesthesia & Analgesia)

This innovative and dynamic course has been structured in such a way that will facilitate both the personal and professional development of qualified registered veterinary nurses and positively assist those who are returning to academic work. Through a combination of engaging classroom sessions, experienced and interesting guest lecturers and personalised student support, RVNs can be confident that they will receive the best support to ensure they reach their full potential.

With the role of RVNs evolving in veterinary practice there has not been a more exciting time to be a member of the veterinary nursing profession. This course allows RVNs to further advance their knowledge and skills in an area that is of most professional interest and relevance to them. Obtaining the Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing will allow RVNs to showcase their advanced skillset and knowledge, benefitting not only their own professional, educational and personal development, but the veterinary industry as a whole.

Course modules

Year 1

Evidence-Based Practice and Research Skills

Core Module - The module will foster research awareness, the development of transferrable skills, including the capacity for self-management and the concept of life-long learning. It will also enable students to develop the skills to locate and critically appraise research, present this information to an acceptable academic standard, and enrich the student’s knowledge of a topic from their professional discipline as a basis for future action. Experimental and exploratory research designs will be taught so that data and observations can be assessed for accuracy and reliability, and the appropriateness of investigational or exploratory methods will be explored together with suitable data analysis techniques. Methods of reporting the results of scientific investigations and explorations will be appraised and students will be able to demonstrate their ability to work independently in the production of a research proposal.

Advanced Veterinary Nursing: Surgery and Theatre Practice

Optional Module – designation: Grad Cert AVN (Surgery & TP) The module aims to prepare veterinary nurses for work in specialist veterinary theatres and to enhance their surgical nursing knowledge and skills. The student's ability to design, implement and manage protocols for the preparation of the theatre environment, personnel and patients in relation to specific requirements of general and specialist surgical procedures will be developed and enhanced. The module will also develop the student's awareness of the pathophysiology of a variety of surgical conditions encountered in veterinary practice, providing an opportunity to appreciate the importance of a systematic approach to the planning, management and evaluation of veterinary surgical patients. The principles of theatre design and the use of protocols to minimise the risk of sepsis and cross contamination will also be addressed.

Advanced Veterinary Nursing: Medicine

Optional Module – designation: Grad Cert AVN (Medicine) The aim of this module is to enhance the student's medical nursing knowledge and skills and further develop the use of specialised diagnostic and monitoring techniques in veterinary medical patients, all of which will help to prepare the student for working in both general and specific referral practice settings. The module will also increase the student's medical knowledge by providing the opportunity to develop their understanding of the aetiology and pathophysiology of a variety of medical conditions encountered in veterinary practice. This will enable the student to employ a systematic approach to the planning, management and evaluation of their veterinary medical patients at every stage of their treatment.

Oral, Dental and Maxillofacial Veterinary Nursing

Optional Module – designation: Grad Cert AVN (Dentistry) The aim of this module is to enhance the specialist nursing skills of the student in relation to the nursing care requirements of patients with a variety of oral, dental and maxillofacial conditions. Issues surrounding dental facility requirements, health and safety and the maintenance of equipment will be considered. The module will also provide opportunities to enhance the student’s knowledge and awareness of a variety of pathophysiological conditions pertaining to the skull, oral cavity and dentition. It will provide an opportunity for students to explore and appreciate the benefits of a systematic approach to the planning, management and evaluation of patients in their care with specific and specialist oral, dental and maxillofacial surgical needs. The provision of pre-, intra- and post-operative care, including infection control, pain relief, management of post-operative complications and the provision of good quality home care and support of clients caring for such cases will also be included.

Veterinary Nursing Teaching, Coaching and Mentoring

Optional Module – designation: Grad Cert AVN (Teaching/Coaching/Mentoring) The aim of this module is to encourage the development of the student as a role model in professional practice and will enhance their skills and abilities relating to leadership, mentorship, coaching, teaching and supervision. Effective information giving and communication skills will be considered in relation to the identification, appraisal and dissemination of information to clients and colleagues, as well as developing the student’s skills regarding monitoring and evaluating the impact of information provision. Exploring coaching philosophies, techniques, styles and processes will enhance the student’s abilities concerning the use of their knowledge to motivate and influence individual staff members and teams, in order to establish powerful and lasting change within practice. Unpacking the concept of mentoring will facilitate the promotion of effective teamwork, confidence and self-esteem building within veterinary practice, developing the student’s skill relating to leadership, human resource management and conflict resolution. The module will also allow students to consider the roles and responsibilities of a teacher, emphasising the importance of ‘knowing your learner’ along with ways to identify their potential needs, ultimately facilitating the development of skills needed to support effective teaching and learning in practice.

Veterinary Anaesthesia, Analgesia and Pain Management

Optional Module – designation: Grad Cert AVN (Anaesthesia & Analgesia) The module will cover the physiology and effects of anaesthesia, anaesthetic agents and their potential side-effects, preparation of the patient, anaesthetic protocols (including local anaesthetic techniques) and the equipment required in a variety of anaesthetic scenarios. The monitoring of anaesthetised patients, post anaesthetic nursing care and the prevention and management of anaesthetic emergencies and complications will be explored, also addressing critical Health and Safety considerations throughout. The aim of this module is also to enhance the knowledge of the student in relation to analgesia, including the physiology and pathophysiology of pain, and develop their skills regarding the management of acute and chronic pain as a result of medical conditions, surgical interventions and other clinical and diagnostic procedures. Students will explore origins and types of pain, patient assessment, pain recognition and the management of pain using both traditional (pharmacological) and complementary (non-pharmacological) interventions. The use of pain scoring systems will be evaluated and the role of the veterinary nurse will be explored throughout the module in order to develop holistic nursing practices and the provision of pain clinics to support both their patients and owners.

Entry requirements & additional information

Entry requirements

All students must be qualified registered veterinary nurses (RVN), listed on the RCVS register on the Small Animal List, holding the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, or the FdSc Veterinary Nursing or the Diploma of Higher Education Clinical Veterinary Nursing qualifications (or equivalencies). Applicants must also provide confirmation that they have enrolled with the RCVS, and have confirmed to the RCVS where they intend to study the Grad Cert AVN along with the title of the qualification (chosen designation). This will be awarded at the discretion of the RCVS.

Students holding the Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing Licence to Practise qualification must additionally have a minimum of twelve months of post-qualification experience and 15 hours CPD, taken from the date of first registration on the RCVS list of RVNs.

During their studies students are required to be employed in, or have agreed access to placement in, a suitable professional/clinical environment, tailored to their area of focussed study for a minimum of 12 weeks per academic year. A letter must be supplied by the practice as part of the application indicating both its status and willingness to support the student during the course regarding access to a suitable caseload. A similar letter as above will be required where students are seconded to another practice as part of the course.

Applicants for whom English is a second language must be able to demonstrate proof of International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at level 7.0 or equivalent. The applicant must forward evidence of eligibility to the College prior to acceptance on the course.

All offers may be subject to successful interview.

Learning and assessment

Learning activities on the course are diverse, including weekly lesson delivery on Myerscough’s virtual learning environment (Canvas), for each module the student is studying. Lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops will also be delivered in the purpose-built veterinary nursing facility during the study weekends. Students will be expected to undertake extensive independent study and research to support lectures, seminars and assessments. Students will have unlimited access to Canvas in order to facilitate an engaging and supportive learning environment away from the College environment.

Students will undertake a variety of assessments including a combination of coursework, unseen written examinations and practical assessments. The coursework assessment methods will include essays, reports and case study work.

Additional Information:

We are mindful of the extra support required by students taking the blended learning approach to their studies and have included in the course study provision events at University Centre Myerscough’s Preston campus. At the start of the course in early September, an intensive introductory 2 day study programme will be held. It is vitally important that students attend these first study days so the teaching team can assess the support required, provide technical advice on the use of Canvas, discuss the course and the most suitable route for achieving the student's goals, introduce the course leader, module and personal tutors and begin lesson delivery for all modules. It is also an opportunity for students to ask any questions which they might have about the course and to meet their fellow students, beginning the development of the peer support network which they will find invaluable during their studies at University Centre Myerscough. In addition, three study weekends will be held and students are expected to attend them all as part of the course. The three study weekends which will include Saturday and Sunday sessions will typically be held in:

  • November
  • January
  • March

Specific dates within these months will be confirmed in advance of starting the course, with detailed timetables being issued to students in advance of their attendances.

The weekend sessions will include theoretical and practical sessions, seminars, interactive workshops and group discussions in addition to affording opportunities for exchange of information within peer groups, and during group and individual tutorial sessions with module and personal tutors. University Centre Myerscough has excellent teaching, practical and clinical resources and invites in specialist veterinary guest speakers, experts in their fields, who are a key component of the study weekend programmes where appropriate. Accommodation on campus cannot be guaranteed but a comprehensive list of local accommodation is available on request.

What Work Experience can I get?

The nature of the course, which embraces module outcomes from both a theoretical and clinical perspective, necessitates access to practice. Students will therefore be required to be employed in, or have agreed access to, placement in a suitable veterinary clinical environment for at least 12 weeks per academic year. This must be a small animal practice which is able to demonstrate a minimum of RCVS PSS General Practice or Veterinary Hospital accreditation, or Training Practice (TP) standard, or be a Referral or University Hospital.


Upon successful completion of the course students can apply to progress to the final year of the part time BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing top-up degree at University Centre Myerscough.


The course aims to provide a programme of veterinary nursing education which will enable students to analyse key academic themes in their chosen subject area and critically evaluate the wide range of management issues within different sectors of the veterinary industry, which will therefore prepare them for a successful career in the UK or overseas. The course promotes an ethos of self-development and reflection throughout the curriculum in order to foster a greater personal awareness and the confidence necessary to manage others. The course is designed with the intention that its graduates will be able to function effectively at a managerial level within the veterinary industry, and the modular content emphasises the importance of career development and planning throughout.

Examples of possible careers included:

  • Head Nurse in General Veterinary and Referral Practice
  • Senior Surgical / Medical / Anaesthesia Nurse in specialist referral Veterinary Practice
  • Specialist dental nurse / work in referral dental practice
  • Lecturer / Senior Nurse in Veterinary Schools
  • Technical Advisor in Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Lecturer in Educational Establishments
  • Consultancy in Animal Health Companies
  • Managerial positions in Welfare Organisations

Professional accreditations

The Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing has been accredited by the RCVS for their RCVS Graduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing qualification in one of the following designations:

  • Grad Cert AVN (Surgery & TP)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Medicine)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Dentistry)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Teaching/Coaching/Mentoring)
  • Grad Cert AVN (Anaesthesia & Analgesia)

Special requirements

Access to a personal computer, the internet and a current email account is essential.

Extra Costs:

Additional costs for items that are essential for the course include:

  • Books - approximately £200 (recommended texts will be indicated on reading lists).
  • Travel and accommodation costs associated with the study weekends.
Myerscough College - Veterinary Nursing Courses
Myerscough College - Veterinary Nursing Courses

Veterinary Nursing

Myerscough School of Veterinary Nursing has been an established provider of education and training for veterinary nurses for more than 35 years, with approval from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons granted in 1975. In this time the College has successfully taught many small animal and equine student nurses from all parts of Britain and Europe.

Veterinary Nurses (VNs) work alongside veterinary surgeons and provide a high standard of care and treatment for animals. This includes skilled supportive care for ill animals as well as undertaking minor surgery, monitoring animals during anaesthesia, providing medical treatments and carrying out diagnostic tests.

Myerscough College student with plants in the college laboratory.
Myerscough College student with plants in the college laboratory.

Access to Higher Education

Gain the skills and confidence to study a degree even if you don’t hold the relevant entry qualifications. Step into the land-based industries with our Access to HE Diploma at University Centre Myerscough.

Find out more
UCLAN | Myerscough Associate School
UCLAN | Myerscough Associate School

Our Partnership with UCLan

All our Higher Education programmes are awarded by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). Myerscough College is an Associate School of the University of Central Lancashire, a dynamic, vibrant and contemporary university located in Preston city centre. UCLan is one of the largest universities in the UK with world-leading and internationally excellent research areas. It offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.