Otago Polytechnic

Haere mai! Welcome to the Work Placement page for the

New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing



This page lists all of the additional information that students need to supply to complete the work experience criteria needed to retain enrolment in the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.


STUDENTS: - See the bottom of this page for the Work Placement requirements to secure your enrolment in the programme

Students are required to confirm work placement arrangements prior to commencing study in the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing programme.  See the bottom of this page for requirements that need to be completed to retain enrolment in this programme.


About Work Placement in this Programme

The aim of work placement for students in the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6) (NZDVN) is to help create work-ready graduates by ensuring students get the opportunity to practice and apply clinical nursing skills. Students should aim to be working alongside clinical coaches, and focusing on getting hands-on experience nursing patients in a clinical environment.


Work Experience Requirements

To meet NZQA requirements for graduation in this programme, students must complete a minimum of 240 clinical work experience hours during the 32 weeks of the academic programme.  For fulltime students, this is a minimum of 1 full day per week in work placement. For part time students it is roughly half of this. Specifics of work placement shifts can be arranged by the students/work places to suit their individual needs.

It is important to note that the 240 hours of work placement should not be a target, but rather is a minimum level to pass. We have seen first hand that students with more hours in practice tend to do better in the programme, and consequently become better veterinary nurses, so we recommend that students aim to complete twice the minimum number of hours (as long as overall time for study is not compromised).



It is important to note the total number of hours that students will need for study and work placement:


Study commitment for fulltime students (half of this for part time students)

Teacher   Directed Learning Hours each week


Authentic   Work Experience Learning Hours each week*


Total Learning Hours each week


*Students may complete work experience at a regular time each week, or in blocks of time.


Varied Experience

For this programme, students are required to get exposure to a range of clinical situations. To achieve this, students must complete at least 40 hours of their work placement at a different clinic from their primary placement. Specifics of work placement shifts can be arranged by the students/work places to suit their individual needs. Students outside of Dunedin need to oraganise their own work placements. Students in Dunedin will have assistance to obtain suitable work placement.


Attendance at Work Placement

While block placements of time are accepted for work placement hours in this programme, students tend to do better if they are attending work placement on a regular schedule where they can develop relationships and familiarity with practice procedures. Students also tend to be more successful, both academically, and professionally if they are actually employed in clinical practice. One reason for this is that employment allows students the opportunity to build relationships and trust within the workplace, to contribute to the team, to take ownership in their work, and to get more access to practice clinical skills. For this reason, we encourage students to engage in casual part time clinical work during their studies and see that it will benefit both the student and the employer.


Clinical Coaches

Clinical coaches are workplace mentors/leaders who are supportive and patient with students, and who have a broad range of expertise to help students acquire essential nursing skills. We encourage students to work alongside supportive clinical coaches in practice, and especially overseas trained or diploma level veterinary nurses who can guide them through the daily nursing process and to help them gain opportunities to practice skills needed for their clinical assessments.


Programme Start Dates

Campus/Dunedin start date: 18 February 2019

Distance part time year 1: 4 March 2019

Distance part time year 2: 28 January 2019

Distance fulltime (Feb intake): 4 February 2019

Distance fulltime (July intake): 22 July 2019


Time to Completion

There are three ways that students can complete this programme:

  1. Fulltime/distance – two intakes, one in February and one in July. Students usually complete the programme within a 1 year/12 month period.
  2. Part time/distance – one intake beginning in February and ending in November. Students will usually take 2 years to complete the programme.
  3. Fulltime/blended online + campus based – one intake beginning in February and ending in November. These are usually Dunedin-based students and will typically complete the programme within a 1 year period.


Supervisor Support

To support supervisors and students throughout the programme, the student’s learning adviser will be in contact with workplace supervisors about specific programme requirements, and to provide documents that may be of assistance. Supervisors and students are encouraged to contact learning advisors at any times with any questions or concerns.  


Wildlife Hospital Placement 

Placements at Wildlife Hospital Dunedin are open to Otago Polytechnic students enrolled in Veterinary Nursing programmes. During this placement at the Wildlife Hospital, you will get a chance to get up close to some of New Zealand's rare and majestic birds, like Yellow-eyed Penguins, as well as some of the more common ones like Kereru and Harrier Hawks. 

You will get a chance to get involved in daily treatments of the patients and anaesthetic procedures. You will learn about avian husbandry, dietary requirements, medicine and avian anaesthesia.  While the birds are amazing to work with they do come with their challenges, penguins in particular are very messy and smelly so you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.  Keep in mind that as these are wild animals there may not always be opportunities to handle them.

Recommended placement length is 1-2 weeks in a block depending on availability. January to June are our busier months, with July-September being quieter and it starts to get busier again from October so we recommend that you book a placement earlier in the year.

If you would like to do a placement with us click on this link to fill out a placement form and email it to placements@wildlifehospitaldunedin.org.nz, you will also be required to do a specific health and safety quiz before your placement is confirmed. 

Priority booking for Otago Polytechnic students closes on 28th of February 2019 after this time you can still request a placement but it will also be opened up to students outside of Otago Polytechnic, so get in quick to reserve your spot.  

If you complete hours at the Wildlife Hospital you will need to discuss with your learning advisor how many of these hours can be counted towards your final placement total.


STUDENTS: Securing Your Work Placement

Students who have not supplied the following information by the programme start date risk being withdrawn from the programme.


1. Secure your work placement:

  • Students based in Dunedin - to reduce pressure on local clinics, we will support you in arranging work placement in Dunedin.
  • Students based outside of Dunedin - to secure work placement at a clinic you will need to introduce yourself to your prospective work placement supervisor and let them know of your work experience requirements.
    • Invitation letter – print this letter to give to your potential work place supervisor to read/sign it, and then email it to us at: vetnursing@op.ac.nz
    • Work experience occupational health & safety agreement – print this agreement, read/sign it, get your work place supervisor to read/sign it, and then email it to us at: vetnursing@op.ac.nz
    • Emergency contact form – print this form, fill it out and give it to your work place to retain for future reference.

2. Retain your enrolment:

Complete the following forms prior to 10% completion in the programme to retain your enrolment in this programme: