Jane Davidson RVN career zone, veterinary-nurses

NPL by Jane Davidson #PlanetRVN


Like many people, I qualified with the portfolio. It was such a behemoth of a file by the time it was finished I moved house three times with it. Finally, I accepted I had my RVN qualification and that the RCVS would not come knocking to read it. I checked for any sensitive information and put it in recycling. Quite a momentous day.


I liked some aspects of the portfolio, but really love being a clinical coach for the NPL. It’s focussed on your practical skills, not how well you write about them. My only negative has been that the breakdown of it into tasks makes the students forget about logging the experience of nursing the whole patient – they can get set on their list of tasks to complete. I’ve found this means they can miss the importance of everyday skills while they focus on the individual ‘exciting’ or hard to find ones. Comparing this to the portfolio where we wrote about nursing the patient for extended periods it can make a student’s move towards becoming a proficient practitioner a little more stilted.


But nothing stays the same in education as it stays abreast of changes in the industry. So I’m pleased to say there are some great changes to the NPL, reflecting a move towards encouraging students to look at the experience they gain from the whole patient.


The new NPL has fewer individual tasks and fewer sections. The tasks are now together in 10 sections. The tasks are being linked now not through the unit but by the way, we would do them when faced with a patient. Placing the focus back on the skill of nursing and not just the small individual tasks that make this up. This will encourage the students to log their experience of being with a patient for an extended period of time, not just cherry picking the skills they need.


While this will mean a period of adjustment for current clinical coaches it will streamline the NPL. The repetition of skills across more than one unit is reduced. Meaning if you’ve logged a great wound in one area you don’t then open another to find you could have used it there too. It also focusses the student on gaining as much from one patient as possible. Which is great for quieter practices. I have encountered some students who were concerned they don’t see enough patients as they worried about logging too many tasks on one patient. If you are in a practice with one RVN it’s likely you will carry out a high proportion of the patients care. Which is great! As long as you are logging your genuine nursing experiences then your NPL is being used correctly – a true reflection of your nursing life.


To help students and clinical coaches decide which skills to include and when a student is competent you have some extra guidance. There are three areas to track the skills logged to: –



The student will now need to track their skills to these documents. While the code of conduct is familiar to them as they sit their ethics or professional conduct theory exams the Day One Skills may be a new document. It’s worth familiarising yourself with all of them – store online, print off and annotate.  It’s all there for you to use.


As a gift for this extra initial work, the NPL now includes the Holy Grail… a % complete tracker. Showing how much of the NPL your student has completed at the click of a button – the joy!


The new NPL also includes a behaviour section. Not for the patients' behaviour but for the students. If you have had degree students you will be familiar with their behavioural tool. A way to grade the student’s attitude and aptitude while on placement. The new NPL requires input at various points in the students’ progress. This is taken from the student, a college tutor, and the clinical coach. Providing a view of the students conduct outside of purely academic progress. While students are not under the jurisdiction of the disciplinary committee while studying we need to ensure that they understand what conduct is and isn’t acceptable for when they qualify. This behavioural section provides a structure for issues to be raised and hopefully resolved. It’s not there to prevent people qualifying but to support people through a tough training process and create well-rounded professionals.


It all adds up to a holistic nursing education producing well-rounded professionals. Definitely a step in the right direction.  

© Image with copyright owner permission RCVS

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