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    Veterinary Nursing Placements

    Offering a Veterinary Nursing Placement

    We are considering offering a Harper Adams student Veterinary Nurse a placement; what do we need to know?

    Student examining an X-ray

    Part of the Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) qualification requires all student veterinary nurses to complete a minimum of 1800 hours in an RCVS approved training practice (TP) or one that would be willing to register as such (see below).

    At Harper Adams University, this requirement is met through:

    • Block placement totalling 10 weeks at the end of Year 1 (usually unpaid)
    • A sandwich year in Year 3 of the course

    Practices are not obligated to offer students placement for the entirety of their course. We have some practices that only offer first year placements, some that only offer sandwich year placements and some that offer both. 

    All students would be enrolled student veterinary nurses with the RCVS and are usually expected to work full time, the same hours as any other employee in the practice. Our only request is that first year students should not be undertaking on call or lone night duties due to their level of experience. Sandwich year students may undertake these when they are deemed competent to do so by the practice and in line with the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966).

    Veterinary practice requirements for training students

    In order to train student veterinary nurses, practices need to be approved by the RCVS as either a Training Practice (TP) or an Auxillary Training Practice (ATP).  Full TP status is usually awarded to those practices that have case load and facilities in line with RCVS Practice Standards ‘General Practice’ status. ATP status can be awarded where a practice has the majority of case load and facilities. Internet access would also be required. Harper Adams University does not charge any fees for approving practices if you are having one of our students.

    If this is new to you please see the Training Practice Queries section for detailed guidance on becoming a Training Practice.

    If you are already a TP or ATP affiliated to another course provider, we would simply check with them (as per RCVS guidelines) to ensure they have no objections to us placing a student with your practice.


    Assessment of student competence whilst on placement

    During a student’s time in practice they are required to record their work based clinical skills using a web based electronic Nursing Progress Log (NPL). The NPL is made up of skills that are considered ‘day one’ skills for veterinary nursing. Completion of the NPL, along with work based practical training will need to be supervised by a nominated ‘clinical coach’ who is either an experienced registered veterinary nurse or veterinary surgeon.  Harper Adams can provide informal in house clinical coach training at no charge to the practice if you are offering a student placement.

    During the first year, ten week block placement, we recommend that students aim to complete to 10% of the NPL (around 10 tasks). Most students end up completing much more than this, given the number of foundation skills that they are involved with at the start of their training. We recommend that practices focus on areas such as health and safety, infection control, basic nursing skills and handling and restraint. The university provide detailed guidance to practices about what underpinning knowledge and tutorials have taken place in the first year to assist with planning what skills to focus on during this first block placement. If a student reaches 10% NPL completion, they would also need to complete the first evaluation of their ‘professional behaviour evaluation’ on the NPL.

    The sandwich year takes place in Year 3 of the course. At this point the student will have received all the underpinning knowledge relating to the day one competencies and skills, plus will have received an excellent grounding in practical tutorials for the more advanced skills, for example, laboratory, radiography positioning. In addition, they will have the clinical experience gained from their Year 1 placement. Throughout the sandwich year, students would be expected to complete the rest of their NPL and professional behaviour tool.


    Placement start dates

    First Year Placement

    Students are required to do a ten week block placement at the end of year one. The earliest start date for these students is:

    • Monday, 19th June 2023

    Some students may wish to arrange a start date later than this; we ask the practice and student to liaise over a suitable start date.

    Sandwich Year Placement

    • Students can arrange a start date from mid-July onwards.


    If you are considering offering a student a placement, we always strongly recommend that before an offer is made, that you ask the student to visit the practice and work for a morning or afternoon to see how they fit in with the dynamics of the practice.

    All Year 1 students will have had some experience in practice prior to being offered a place on our degree courses. Sandwich year students will have completed their Year 1 clinical placement as well.

    Managing employment law on placement

    Employment law states that a student studying on a higher education course can undertake a maximum of 52 weeks in unpaid placement. For the purposes of employment law, an unpaid placement refers to any placement paid at less than national minimum wage.

    As previously mentioned, at Harper Adams, placement time is usually achieved via 10 weeks placement at the end of Year 1 and then a 46-week sandwich year (including four weeks annual leave).

    Year 1 student placements are usually unpaid. Any payment is at the discretion of the practice.

    Payment for sandwich year placement varies and again, is the decision of the practice.

    Students who are paid at national minimum wage or above can complete more weeks in their sandwich year than stated above. Practices offering unpaid placement are limited to the requirements of employment law, meaning a student who has done 10 weeks unpaid placement in Year 1 can only do 42 working weeks in their sandwich year.

    All students are expected to have a terms and conditions of placement if unpaid or a contract of employment if paid. The University can provide additional guidance on this if needed.

    Support of Harper Adams students

    Upon offering a placement to one of our students, we adopt the following protocols:

    • Contact the affiliated centre for permission for student placement (if required).
    • Undertake a pre-placement visit if we have not worked with the practice in the last 12-18 months (informal guidance on clinical coaching is also given on this visit).
    • Maintain contact with the student and practice throughout their placement, visiting at least once (twice for a sandwich year student) to monitor student progress.
    • Provide any clinical coach training where needed free of charge provided the affiliated centre agree to this.
    • If the practice is not currently a TP we will advise and visit before any student placement can take place.

    Harper Adams makes no charge for any support work for their students or the practice. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team if you have any queries about this information. 

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