You love animals. You can’t get enough of their perfect purrs and being laved in licks. For as long as you can remember you have been caring for animals. You probably have tales about all of the times you brought home kittens and found birds with broken wings. All of the signs have pointed to you wanting, nay, needing, to work with animals. Now is the time to take the plunge and become a certified vet nurse.
As with any new endeavor, you probably have hundreds of questions. This article will help you as you start down the path of becoming a certified vet nurse.
It’s a great time to enter the animal care field. According to Job Outlook, the industry is expected to see growth all the way into 2019. They are expecting a 17% increase in job opportunities for vet nurses. Choosing to become a certified vet nurse will help you get in front of hiring team and land you that dream job.
Step 1- Choose the best path for you
When becoming a certified vet tech you have options for how you would like to proceed. You can enter a university and earn a bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Nursing. Roughly 24% of the vet nurses in the job market have chosen this route for their certification.
The alternative to paying high tuition fees, is to get your certification through a registered training organization or through on-the-job training with additional continuing education. This process can take anywhere from 1 to 4 years to complete programs and earn your certification. About 46% of the job force chooses this method.
Step 2- Choose a Certificate Level
There are four levels of certification, the Certificate I is optional, but will help you as you take the mandatory Certificate II courses to become a veterinary assistant. Many programs are designed to complete these levels in under a year. While the path to completion can be relatively quick, stopping here could limit your long term career options. If you have not had the opportunity to work in a veterinary clinic, this certificate will allow you to gain valuable experience and insight before advancing your education.
In most vet assistance certification programs, you will learn a variety of skills like:
- An introduction to veterinary nursing
- Animal handling techniques
- Basic pet husbandry
- Basic first aid
- Receptionist and office duties
All of these disciplines will allow you to be prepared for a career as a veterinary assistant. For many, it’s during these classes that the students are inspires by the science and technological advances that push them to the Certification IV course work.
To become a certified veterinary nurse, you will need to continue your education and complete the Certification IV programs and the optional Certification III work. This is the next step in the education process. You will start to learn advanced skills that your job will rely on you to complete.
The skills required to earn your certificate IV in vet nursing include, but are not limited to:
- Small animal nutrition
- Performing TPRs and patient monitoring
- Surgical nursing
- Infections disease control
- Preventative medicine
- Pain Management
Step 3 – Register with the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia
Once you have completed your studies and have earned your certification you’ll want to register with the VNCA. Joining an organization like this can enhance your credentials as you look for vet nurse job opportunities. You’ll also have access to continuing education, network opportunities, and ability to join committees that create policies.
While registering with the VNCA is not required to be a certificate vet nurse, it can only help you stand out in a sea of applicants vying for limited positions. Joining the organization will allow you to apply as an Accredited Vet Nurse (AVN).
Step 4 – Aim for a Specialty
Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to earn your vet nurse certificate IV (or are on your way), now is when the real fun begins. Once you have completed your certification you can continue your education and become specialized. Much like physicians who only deal in internal medicine or emergency medicine, vet nurses can also specialize. Specialties include surgery, emergency and critical care, clinical, dentistry, leadership and management, and anesthesia.
Choosing to add a specialty to your skill set increases your value to employers. You’ll also be exposed to advanced and technical cases which can add to your job satisfaction.
Becoming a certified vet nurse is within your grasp. Putting your love for animals and medicine will be one of the most rewarding job experience you may ever have. The hard part is getting started. First decide if you want to go through a university or training program. Next earn your certificates starting with I and ending at IV. Show your hard work off by joining VNCA. Finally, go a step further and choose a specialty. The more training and education you invest in your career the better prepared you will be to nurse those little creatures back to health.