Veterinary Nurses

AMTRA and Harper Adams University have introduced a system to allow qualified VNs to “add on” to their VN qualification and to become an AMTRA SQP who can prescribe VPS medicines for companion animals – termed a C-SQP. One or more of the other modules (equine, farm-animal and avian) may also be taken at the same time.

Since qualified VNs already have been assessed on some of the relevant material in this qualification they can be given credit for this and just have to be assessed on the “new” material and the working understanding of their other knowledge checked.

A potential AMTRA SQP must register with AMTRA as the body holding the professional register (just as the RCVS does for the VN qualification) but Harper Adams will conduct the assessment and will award the necessary academic credits, whether the assessment is at Harper Adams or at another centre.

The assessment will be in an exam format and will contain a case study with a description of a scenario. An example might be: Non client X comes into surgery with young dog Y just obtained from a rescue kennel. It has been vaccinated but the new owner has been told to get the dog wormed. Describe the procedure an SQP vet nurse would go through, including questions asked, advice given, products sold and data recorded. There would also be some short answer questions to cover knowledge of other areas of the medicines legislation relevant to SQPs. e.g. legal aspects of medicine storage. A VN will be required to bring their original VN certificate and a photocopy of it with them as proof of achievement in the areas for which they have already been given credit.

If a qualified veterinary nurse chooses also to add one or more of the other modules, these will be assessed as standard SQP modules.

Enrolment and Assessment

Veterinary Nurses enrolling with AMTRA will be provided with written course material. Revision courses are offered by some examination centres. Check the AMTRA website (www.amtra.org.uk) for full details.

The AMTRA enrolment fee includes the examination fee (provided the exam is sat within 24 months of enrolment), the AMTRA assessment fee, the price of the training material, the Harper Adams assessment/credit rating/quality control fee, and for successful candidates, a free NOAH Compendium containing data sheets of those medicines which qualified SQPs can prescribe, free inclusion on the AMTRA VN SQP Register for the remainder of the calendar year of the examination, access to AMTRA services and to Continuing Professional Development.

Once enrolled with AMTRA and in receipt of the training manual, veterinary nurses may book their examination with AMTRA.

Non-qualified nurses and receptionists can also become SQPs but they will have to enrol as a new student, and then study a base module and a companion animal module and be assessed upon, i.e. more study and assessment as they do not have a formal relevant qualification which can be accredited.

If the right to prescribe medicines to horses and/or farm animals is wanted or needed by a practice then the appropriate modules can be assessed and added on to the C-SQP qualification.

Prices including one or more of the other modules (equine, farm-animal, or avian) are the same as the prices for standard SQP enrolments.

Examination centres

There is a range of exam centres around the UK with a variety of dates. See the exams page for the full list.

What the examination looks like

The VN Top Up module examination is made up of two sections: the first is an essay question – a client and companion animal parasite scenario. The potential SQP is expected to ask the potential client the relevant questions, give advice and supply appropriate medication within the scope of their intended SQP qualification if required.

Multiple choice and short answer questions form the second half of the paper, covering current legislation and relevant companion animal health areas.

If a qualified veterinary nurse chooses also to add one or more of the other modules, these will be assessed as standard SQP modules.

After the written examination, candidates are assessed for their professional competence as SQPs, which is undertaken by an AMTRA Assessor appointed for that purpose in a one-to-one 10-15 minute oral (“viva”) examination. The specific purpose of the assessment is to establish that the candidate has competence in knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the legal and professional responsibilities of SQPs, of the relevant parts of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations and the Code of Practice or of other germane legal and professional requirements.

Supportive Taught Courses

A few of the AMTRA examination centres also offer training courses aimed at VNs, and these are listed on the exams and courses page. For fuller coverage, veterinary nurses may wish to attend a normal C-SQP training session, but most VNs find that home study from the printed and online training  manual is sufficient.

VNs should enrol with AMTRA, book any training/revision directly with the college concerned, and when ready send AMTRA the exam booking form.

Continuing Professional Development

All SQPs are required to undertaken continuing professional development. When the AMTRA Council set the rules it was agreed that in recognition of the special status of veterinary nurse SQPs, that a slightly different approach was needed from that for all other SQPs.

In general, AMTRA CPD points may only be claimed for content which has been accredited by AMTRA in advance, and where the organiser provides a certified list of attendees. We do not generally allow other evidence of attendance.

We know that veterinary nurses are already doing lots of CPD, but the problem for AMTRA was that not all VN CPD is relevant to the SQP role, and where it is, we generally haven’t had applications for AMTRA CPD accreditation.

In recognition of the special circumstances of vet nurse SQPs, you may claim half of your AMTRA CPD points obligation from VN CPD provided it meets the following criteria:

  • a copy of a certificate of attendance is provided, and
  • the SQP confirms that in their view the CPD was supportive of their SQP role

If you’ve already undertaken CPD which meets these criteria and you’d like to claim AMTRA CPD points for it, please complete and return the Veterinary Nurse CPD claim form together with a copy of the certificate(s) of attendance.