RCVS news: VN Council agrees changes to registration of EU VNs after Brexit - Veterinary Practice
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RCVS news: VN Council agrees changes to registration of EU VNs after Brexit

The RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council has agreed changes to how it registers veterinary nurses who qualified in the European Economic Area (EEA) should the UK depart the EU without a deal on March 29.

The RCVS VN Council agreement is in line with new regulations drawn up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Changes to the registration regime for veterinary nurses educated in EEA were discussed at the most recent meeting of VN Council on Wednesday 6 February 2019 with the proposals suggesting a closer alignment of the process for EEA applicants to that which exists for applicants from without the EEA. Under current rules, for example, EEA applicants who have a veterinary nursing qualification that differs significantly from the minimum level of competences and skills outlined in the RCVS Day One Skills and Competences for veterinary nurses are able to join the Register by choosing to complete either a period of supervised adaptation for up to three years (in which their practice would be closely monitored and assessed by a clinical coach) or passing the RCVS pre-registration examination. Non-EEA applicants in a similar situation would, however, be more likely to have their application rejected outright. All other non-EEA applicants are required to pass the pre-registration examination which is held three times a year.

At the VN Council meeting, members were therefore invited to consider closer alignment of the processes for EEA and non-EEA applicants, meaning that anyone whose veterinary nursing qualification is considered similar in content and scope to UK accredited qualifications would be required to pass the RCVS pre-registration examination. These applicants will continue to be able to apply for permission to work in a veterinary practice while preparing for the examination. Where there is significant differences in content and scope then these applications will be rejected. The option to make up any deficient areas while working in practice will no longer be available.

Holders of qualifications accredited by the Accreditation Committee for Veterinary Nurse Education (ACOVENE) will normally continue to have direct access to the Register as its accreditation criteria is based on UK standards. Currently all UK veterinary nurse course providers in both further and higher education are ACOVENE accredited as well as five educational establishments in the Republic of Ireland and one each in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.

VN Council accepted the proposals put forward by the College. Commenting on the decision Julie Dugmore, RCVS Director of Veterinary Nursing who is also Chair of ACOVENE, said: “It is important to remember that the numbers of non-UK EEA veterinary nurses who join the Register each year is much lower than for veterinary surgeons – normally being somewhere between 40 to 60 individuals each year, the majority of whom have qualified on an ACOVENE accredited veterinary nursing course. We will continue to welcome applications from those holding other EEA and non-EEA qualifications. If we depart the EU without a deal will be able to introduce more flexibility when deciding whether applicants should be accepted, rejected or accepted on condition of passing the pre-registration examination. This will be based on how well aligned their education and clinical experience is with our registration criteria.”

The decision was made by VN Council on the day that the House of Lords passed a Statutory Instrument that would, similarly, allow the RCVS to continue to register EEA veterinary surgeons with qualifications accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) after the UK leaves the EU.

Employers are reminded that veterinary nurses working in the UK must be registered with the RCVS. This includes veterinary nurses educated outside the UK. Further information on the registration process can be obtained by contacting the veterinary nursing department vnovereseas@rcvs.org.uk or 0207 202 0788.

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