Which Training Organisation to choose - The Training Puzzle Solved!

By Helen Power Cert IV VN, AVN, TAE

updated December 2017

Now you have enough time to study, but there’s so much jargon out there and so many courses to choose from. Where do you start? 


Which course to take to become a Veterinary Nurse

Some courses on offer imply that they give training to become a Veterinary Nurse. In order to become a qualified Veterinary Nurse you must complete the nationally accredited ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing course.

The enrolment criteria into this course may vary from training college to training college, from state to state and the delivery mode offered. Enrolment criteria may include:

  • a certain school level qualification reached
  • a formal interview process
  • work placement/volunteer work in a veterinary practice prior to enrolment
  • paid employment in a veterinary practice prior to enrolment
  • evidence of continuation of work placement during the study period

Many wishing to study veterinary nursing may choose to study a Certificate II or Certificate III in Animal Studies prior to the Certificate IV. Depending on how the training provider has structured their course, this may provide you with a group of units that can be transferred into the Certificate IV if you are successful in gaining entry into the course.

The Certificate II and Certificate III in Animal Studies courses are not a prerequisite for enrolment into the Certificate IV, nor is it a guarantee that you will gain entry into this course. However, it does provide you with invaluable experience and skills that you can carry on with you into the future. In addition, if you are granted transfers for the units completed in a Certificate II or Certificate III then it may reduce your fees and enrolment times.

Some training providers do offer direct entry into to the Certificate IV given that you fulfill all other required criteria.


How is it delivered?

Training can be delivered in a number of ways ranging from attendance at college one day per week, block release 2-3 times per year, distance education/correspondence or full time training.

The premise of the national training package for Veterinary Nursing is to ensure that students gain theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The practical skills may be learned in the workplace or a simulated work environment and then applied in a real workplace. This is why it is very important to have placement in a Veterinary Practice when studying a veterinary nursing course. As part of your training, you will be required to demonstrate your skills in the workplace or a simulated veterinary practice, to a qualified workplace assessor.

When considering which option is best for you, think about the following:

One day per week: 

This usually involves attendance at a college one day per week where you should have face to-face lectures by a teacher. You will have lectures, exams and assignments to complete.

Your practical skills will be developed in the workplace. Additional practical training may take place at an on-campus veterinary clinic or simulation clinic. You need to take into account the time required for you to be away from the practice one day per week and if this is viable for both yourself and the practice. Most students are not paid while they are away from work. For some students face-to-face lectures are the best way for them to learn.

Block Release:

This involves attending face-to-face lectures but instead of attending one day per week you attend the college for 1-2 weeks at a time, usually twice per year. The rest of the time you spend at work developing your practical skills and completing assignments. As you need to take longer periods of time off work you need to consider if this time off is taken as unpaid leave, part of your holidays or whether your employer will still pay your wages. You will also need to consider additional expenses such as travel and accommodation.

Distance Education:

This involves studying at home and/or work without face-to-face lectures by a teacher. While you should have support of your college, you need to be self driven and have the motivation to complete your study requirements. Distance education does not require you to take time off work to attend college. Distance education offers flexibility of training in that you are able to continue working and earning a wage. Often distance education centres will offer networking opportunities or other support systems to assist students with keeping motivated.

Full Time Study:

This involves attending college full time, every day per week, as per normal schooling. Students will still need to gain practical experience in a Veterinary Practice or simulated practice to fulfil the practical component of the course. The college may require you to attend a veterinary practice to gain your practical skills if they do not have a veterinary clinic attached to the college. As you are studying full time you may not have the opportunity to be employed.


Which Training Organisation to Choose

You should ensure that the training organisation you choose is able to meet your requirements. The training organisation should be licensed to deliver ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing course and Certificate II and Certificate III Animal studies if they are required to be undertaken as part of your enrolment

The training organisation should be recognised as registered to deliver Nationally Recognised Training and have a Registered Training Organisation Provider number. ASQA is the government organisation that registers and licences training organisations. 

Before you make your final choice of a training organisation, make sure that the college can issue you a “statement of attainment” or academic transcript that directly relates to the units of competency in the training package for Certificate II & III Animal Studies [if required] and Certificate IV Veterinary Nursing. Not a transcript that lists internal college unit codes.  This will ensure that if you transfer to a different college then you have a record of the individual units from the training package that you have completed.

You should also consider the requirements for completing the units of competency. Some colleges may deliver stand alone individual units or some may group units together. Work placements and practical assessments may be required for unit completion. If you have not competed all the unit requirements you may not be eligible for a statement of attainment.

The training organisation you choose should be able to discuss with you the different study options they have available and their delivery and assessment strategies. Not all colleges offer all options. All colleges must offer you the ability to gain your qualification through the recognition of prior learning (RPL), recognition of current competency (RCC), or skills recognition (SR). This is particularly important for those Veterinary Nurses who may have a prior qualification or have a number of years of industry experience without an actual qualification.

RPL/RCC/SR looks at the skills you have developed and the understanding you have of what you do. You will be required to provide evidence to the college of your skills and knowledge. The evidence may be in the form of exams, case studies, videos, prior qualifications etc. This is then compared to the requirements of the training package. Gaps in knowledge and skills are identified and you will then be required to complete study to “fill in” any of these gaps. A workplace assessment should be performed to verify your knowledge & practical skill within the practice.


How long should it take?

The training package does not state how long it should take to complete all of the units required to gain a Certificate IV Veterinary Nurse qualification. The mode of delivery will affect the time frames of delivery. On average it should take 2 years to gain your Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing. Alternatively, if you begin with a Certificate II or III in Animal Studies then it should take you approximately 3 years.


How much should it cost?

The cost of your training will vary depending on the mode of delivery, which college you attend and if you have previous qualifications. (Please note that the cost of your study may only be affected by previous qualifications in certain states).

You should consider the following in your overall costs: enrolment fees, administration fees, assessment fee, travel fees, accommodation fees, loss of pay if taking time off work to attend college and academic and financial penalties for withdrawal or failure to complete within timeframes. Fees for RCC/RPL should also be considered. Traineeships are available to help with the cost of training and you should discuss this with your employer and local traineeship office.

The National Training Information Service www.training.gov.au is a great place to start looking for the best RTO to meet your needs.