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Haere mai! Welcome to the Work Placement page for the

New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing



This page lists the information that you need in regard to your work experience to retain enrolment in the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.


You must confirm your 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, you must complete a minimum of 240 clinical work experience hours during the 32 weeks of the academic programme. This includes 110 hours in the first half of your programme, and 130 hours in the second half of the programme.  For fulltime students, this is equivalent to a minimum of 1 full day per week in work placement. For part time students it is half of this. You may complete work experience at a regular time each week, or in blocks of time.

Specifics of work placement shifts can be arranged to suit your individual needs, however, 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 familarity with practice procedures.

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.  You may require more hours than this to develop your competence in the clinical skills required in the programme.  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 you aim to complete twice the minimum number of hours (as long as overall time for study is not compromised).


Organising Placement

Students outside of Dunedin need to organise their own work placements. Students in Dunedin are asked to fill in the form below regarding work placement needs. There is a higher demand for work placement in Dunedin than is able to be met for all students, so if you are based in Dunedin, you will likely need to attend a placement out of town for at least some of your work placement.

A suitable work placement will need to allow you access to a wide range of clinical cases, and the opportunity to be involved with a wide range of veterinary nursing tasks. You should seek a placement that employs at least one, and preferably more veterinary nurses qualified to diploma level or higher, and who are willing to mentor you and assist with the development of your clinical competence. A diploma in veterinary nursing is the minimum qualification for a workplace supervisor to verify your work.

For this programme, you are required to get exposure to a range of clinical situations. To achieve this, you must complete at least 40 hours of your work placement at a different clinic from your primary placement.


Supervisor Support

To support supervisors and students throughout the programme, your learning advisor will be in contact with your workplace supervisors about specific programme requirements, to provide documents that may be of assistance, and to seek feedback on your skills.  Supervisors and students are encouraged to contact learning advisors at any times with any questions or concerns. 


Wildlife Hospital Placement 

Placements at the Wildlife Hospital Dunedin are available on a limited basis 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 may get involved in daily treatments of the patients and anaesthetic procedures, with an opportunity to 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 week and due to demand, and limited number of available placements, a spot is not guaranteed.  In Term 3 particularly, the clinic has its quiet time and therefore we will limit placement availability especially late July and August.

If you are interested in doing a placement please click here and fill in the on-line questionnaire.   Please note you might not hear back about a placement straight away, we ask for your patience, but if you want to check in please contact 

Priority booking for Otago Polytechnic students closes on 17th February 2020. 


Programme Start Dates

Campus/Dunedin start date: 17 February 2020

Distance part-time year 1: 2 March 2020

Distance part-time year 2: 27 January 2020

Distance full-time (Feb intake): 17 February 2020

Distance full-time Semester 1: (Returning from July 2019): 27 January 2020

Distance full-time Semester 2: (July intake): 20 July 2020

Regular work placement should begin from the second week of the programme. (Part time year 2 students may begin from the programme start date.)


STUDENTS:  Work Placement Documentation

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:
    • 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:
    • Emergency contact form – print this form, fill it out and give it to your work place to retain for future reference.

2. On-line Forms: