Time for a Refresh?


Jane RVN veterinary-nurses, Veterinary Surgeon

Do you want to feel refreshed?

I’m heading back into practice this week after a few months away. With the IR35 implications locum
work as a part-timer has become harder, luckily I’ve found a place that I want to work AND doesn’t
need me to be a Limited Company – phew!
It’s brought up some of the common worries we feel when we’ve not done something for a while.
Will I be any good? What have I forgotten? And the biggie in first opinion practice - what new flea
treatments are there?
It doesn’t need to be just after a career break
You may feel you need to refresh your skills for many reasons. It may be you’ve had time away from
clinical work, or that you’re in a practice that doesn’t see certain cases or species and you’d like to
keep your skills valid. You may have even been off the register voluntarily for more than 5 years and
need to enter a period of supervised practice to re-enter the register.
There are many reasons for seeking to refresh your skills and it doesn’t necessarily mean you need
to leave where you are working now. Let’s look at these different situations and see what you can

Seeing practice

This might be something you associate more with training to become an RVN but seeing practice can
be beneficial at other points in your career. Now that you are an RVN ‘seeing’ practice can also be
extended as you are now a qualified nurse who may be able to help and not just ‘see’ what is going
I have been to see practice at a zoo clinic last summer and am hoping to do some more at an
oncology specialist centre soon. Both clinics provide EMS for vet students so sometimes have some
space to accommodate vet nurses too.
You will find many practices can provide time and space to see practice so think about what skills
you’d like to learn or re-visit and find some places that you can work with to improve your skills.
The veterinary world is very small so even if you are reading this thinking you don’t know anyone in
any fab places you will be surprised what could happen if you start asking around to see what is
Locum work
Working in new places often leads to learning new things and you don’t need to leave your current
employer to do this.
As RVNs are a scarce commodity you can use this to your advantage. There are often odd shifts to
cover at practices close to you that you could cover. While you need to sort out the self-
employed/Umbrella/Limited company issue this shouldn’t hold you back.
One area that many nurses feel they need to improve on is emergency and critical care. Many first
opinion practices may only carry out initial triage and treatment before referring on the case. The

practices they are referred to are usually close enough to you to commute to and often need OOH
shifts covered. This may be an ideal situation as you have the skills to build on to learn new aspects
of nursing and so many places need your help and are happy to let you shadow for a shift or two
before heading onto a rota.
Time off the register
What happens if you have voluntarily taken time off the RCVS register? People do this for many
reasons and you have up to 5 years to return to the register without being required to do any formal
re-training. You may wish to make use of the options above to refresh your skills and should also
consider some theory CPD to ensure you meet the regulations for entering and maintain your place
on the register. If at all possible keep your CPD up to date and try to avoid being off the register for
more than 5 years, as you’ll see below the requirements to get back on the register are quite
If you have been off the register for more than 5 years the RCVS stipulate you need to undertake a
period of supervised practice (PSP). This is set out as a minimum of 17 weeks full time (35 hours per
week) or if part-time it is equivalent to 595 hours.
Ideally, this time would be spent in an RCVS training practice or in a practice standards scheme
member practice. However, if these options aren’t available to you do please contact the RCVS for
advice. This does not mean you cannot complete your PSP in another practice but how the time is
evidenced and who mentors you may need some further thought.
The PSP guidance also includes some handy exercises to work through to find out what specific
things you want to refresh and you may find that carrying out your PSP in more than one practice
will get you better prepared for becoming an RVN again.
In terms of legality and SIII during your PSP you will be classed as a student vet nurse and so require
the same level of supervision as an SVN. This isn’t to slow your progress but to support you back into
the workplace.

Enjoy the variety

One of the great things about being a vet nurse is the huge variety of career options in both clinical
and non-clinical settings. I have found the vet community is also very open to people learning new
things and you might be surprised where you can go and learn more. Make your career what you
want it to be and keep your skills sharp!

Scroll to top