Training vets – EMS and PDP what a vet nurse needs to know

two vets with a kitten

Jane Davidson RVN career zone, veterinary-nurses

alt text here
I saw this great quote from Greys Anatomy recently and it got me thinking…


How much do we RVNs know about EMS and the PDP? 

They’re crucial parts of a vet students training and something we help them hugely with. Which I know they all appreciate – even my non-vet husband has been praised for the help I gave a new grad vet! (husband was surprised when I noticed cystitis in our cat. Not sure he knows what I do all day). If we’re appreciated that much I feel I should know EMS and PDP a bit better. Yet I know only the basics.


Let’s start then!


EMS is extra-mural studies. An important part of the course that allows access to vet practices across the students studies. As RVNs we frequently support these students in their 20 weeks at the end of their course. This is the clinical EMS period where the student can select where to focus their studies on their preferred area. You can find out more here.


There is also a guide to the individual universities course summary:


The importance of EMS to the students is clear when you talk to them. They want to feel part of the team and actively learn. Currently, there is no scheme for EMS providers as there is for student vet nurses in TPs. Therefore your skills as a clinical coach or having been through the vet nurse training are very useful.


Getting the vet student to fill in a skills match according to the clinical objectives would be a great start.


Finding out what they have experience of, what they want experience of and where you can help will make the time spent with you the best it can be. This can then be shared with the whole team and a fulfilling and safe EMS placement can be created.


While vet nurses do a log of their skills during their training vet students not do this once they graduate. For those familiar with the NPL for nurses the PDP will look very familiar.


The PDP is the professional development phase. It’s slightly different to the NPL/CSL as it’s a personal log. But it still requires reflective skills – something student nurses are also great at.


The section for employers suggests a mentor. For obvious reasons, the main mentor should be an MRCVS. However, I think there is merit in also assigning an RVN mentor. A second person to help with the usual new grad questions and another person for support. This should mean that more hours of the working day are covered by a mentor which feels great for a new grad. In fact, the PDP says that the PDP is most successful where there is a collaboration between the new graduate and senior practice colleagues.


As ever in veterinary we are a team!

Scroll to top