Veterinary nursing: Who, what and how

It’s hard not always knowing when and where your patients are hurt.

A dog has been admitted with suspected paralysis,  a cat has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, and the waiting room is full of anxiously waiting clients. We spoke to a 26 year old veterinary nurse…

Who should be a nurse?

It goes without saying that you love animals, but you will also need to understand that there will be a lot of tasks to do that do not involve working with them. As a nurse, you are not only assisting the veterinarian in medical procedures and surgery, but are a support and source of information for patient’s owners. You need to be compassionate and understanding of the owners.

You also need to be tough! There will be lots of situations when you’re working with animals who have not been shown the treatment, love and respect that you would give them. Seeing a patient go home happy and healthy is the best feeling ever, but there are a lot of times when your patients don’t get to go home. It’s hard not to become attached to the animals.

What will you be doing?

I spend a lot of time nursing sick animals through injuries and illnesses – making sure they are calm and comfortable – but my daily schedule also includes cleaning, sterilising and preparing surgical instruments, monitoring the anaesthetic during operations and giving medication and injections under the vets supervision. I also may insert catheters for intravenous fluids and develop x-rays.

I’m involved in surgical and medical procedures, where I’m on hand to assist the veterinary surgeons. I’m also involved in preparing animals for operations, and in post-operative care. I give advice to owners, and call them to give them updates if their animal is in hospital.

So how do you become a Veterinarian Nurse?

To be able to a competent Vet nurse, you’ll need a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing- the Certificate II allows you to progress towards this final certificate. This is a national qualification recognised in all states in Australia.

All training providers in Australia offer accreditation to this qualification through the Veterinary Nursing Training Package. There are also four diplomas open to qualified veterinary nurses to further their education in general practice, emergency and critical care, surgery, and dentistry.

Depending on what state you live in, there are a number of options to obtain this qualification.






  • You must already be employed by a Veterinary practice to start the full time or part time course at Department of Employment and Training trading as Brisbane and North Point Institute of TAFE Tel: 07 3259 5127

External options

Not sure about vet nursing? Read this veterinarian’s story. 

Veterinary nursing: Who, what and how
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