Otago Polytechnic

New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6)


Dunedin (blended learning, campus-based option with work placements that could be outside the Dunedin area) or online (with block courses held in Dunedin and Christchurch). International students must study in Dunedin.

One year full-time; two years part-time

See delivery options below 

Feb (Distance and on-campus full-time and distance part-time)
July (Distance full-time)
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Distance
    22 July 2019
    30 September 2019 - 11 October 2019
Complete this programme to become a qualified veterinary nurse. This builds on the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Veterinary Nursing Assistant).
Please note, the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) Rural Animal Technician alone does not meet entry requirements for the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

This diploma aligns with international standards for veterinary nursing. Successful completion will enable you to meet the educational standards for entrance to the NZVNA/Allied Veterinary Professional Regulatory Council's voluntary register where you will be able to use the title of Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN).

This Diploma will give you the skills and knowledge required for a successful career as a professional veterinary nurse. 

You will graduate with up-to-date, detailed theoretical knowledge of companion animal healthcare and practical skills, including low stress handling techniques. In addition, you will be able to apply sound principles of evidence-based practice with an ability to make independent nursing decisions to develop and deliver quality care to animal patients.

Upon graduation, you will be able to provide surgical veterinary nursing, medical veterinary nursing, manage veterinary nursing services and perform diagnostic sampling and medical imaging. 

There is always a strong demand for qualified people to work within the veterinary and animal-related industries and, with this professional qualification, your expertise will be sought after. Employment opportunities are diverse and could include working as a veterinary nurse, veterinary nursing supervisor, veterinary practice management, industry representative for a veterinary wholesale company, in education (with additional training), or within animal control, wildlife management, animal breeding or conservation.

Delivery options

Blended learning, full-time 

Two days per week of facilitated sessions at the Dunedin campus, supplemented with online, self-directed study. This is the only option for international students.

Distance learning, full-time 

Completed in one year. Online, self-directed study with compulsory block courses.  Further information to be advised soon.

Distance learning, part-time 

Completed in two years. Online, self-directed study with compulsory block courses each year. Further information to be advised soon.

Work experience

Work experience for a total of 240 hours in a veterinary clinic is required for all delivery options to complete this programme. Some support will be provided with sourcing work placements in Dunedin for students based in Dunedin. Students based outside of Dunedin must organise their own work placements.

Entry requirements 
Academic criteria

All students (international and domestic) for whom English is not a first language:

  • must demonstrate English Language skills with an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6, with no band score lower than 5.5 OR
  • must provide acceptable alternative evidence of English language proficiency depending on the visa decline rate of the country you are from. See here for acceptable evidence and visa decline rates by country.

Please note: All scores must be achieved in a single test completed in the preceding two years. You cannot combine scores from multiple tests. If you have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance you are not required to provide evidence of English Language skills.

If you need to improve your English, we offer a range of English language programmes.   

Alternative criteria
  • If you don’t hold the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) or equivalent but do have significant clinical veterinary experience, knowledge and skills, you may be eligible to have this experience assessed and applied towards the entry criteria for this programme. Click here for more information about this option.
Evidence criteria

You will also be required to provide the following:

If you are a new student to the School of Veterinary Nursing

    • Criminal Convictions History (via the Ministry of Justice), which is 6 months old or less, before the start date of your programme (even if your report is clean we are required to sight this, your enrolment will be contingent on this report). 

If you studied with us in the previous year and are returning to the School of Veterinary Nursing

    • You will only need to make a declaration (click here) stating your history hasn’t changed since the previous report.

All applicants

  • Evidence of a companion veterinary clinic who will support the practical components of the programme*.
  • Current basic First Aid Certificate (highly recommended).

*Once your application has been received, if successful, you will be sent an unconditional offer into the programme. In this unconditional offer, there will be a link provided to enable you to complete your enrolment. This will include forms where you can provide details of your veterinary clinic work placement where you will complete the required hours of work experience for this programme.

All applicants must also: 

  • Have access to a computer, camera, video and the internet. 
Completing your application

To complete your application you will need:

  • Certified copies of proof of identity and proof of residency (where appropriate) 
  • Proof of academic entry requirements (e.g. proof of your pre-requisite qualification)
  • Criminal Convictions History Report - see details above in the evidence criteria section

Please note: You must submit all of your application and enrolment requirements prior to starting the programme.

Learning delivery modes

Studying via on campus or distance options

The School of Veterinary Nursing is a leader in the provision of on campus and distance education.  Thanks to our online resources, traditional challenges unique to these types of learning are no longer issues.  Every student will have a Learning Adviser on hand to provide group one-on-one support, and assistance is always on hand through our extensive support systems which include:

  • Materials (written, audio and video) and assessments provided online
  • Internet tutorials
  • Face-to-face facilitated sessions (at block courses for distance students and two days a week for on campus students)
  • On-line classroom sessions for distance students
  • Learning Management System – MOODLE
  • Student Hub (details provided to access at enrolment)
  • IT Support http://www.op.ac.nz/hub/student-support/it-support/
  • Student Support Services http://www.op.ac.nz/students/support/
  • One-on-one tutorial support (face-to-face or online)
  • Free phone 0800 762 786. 
Additional costs

Some of the following additional costs may apply, depending on your circumstances:

  • Ongoing access to a computer, camera, video, and the internet.
  • Travel, accommodation, and food costs associated with attendance at work placements (all students) and block courses (distance students).
  • Highly recommended textbooks: $400 (approx.)
  • Clinical uniform: $50 (approx.) – buy an Otago Polytechnic polo and scrub shirt if your veterinary clinic work placement doesn’t provide a uniform.
  • Name badge: $15 (pin-back) or $18.50 (magnetic) - buy an Otago Polytechnic name badge if your veterinary clinic work placement doesn’t provide a one for you.
  • Scrub top: $45
  • Stethoscope: $21 (if you do not have one)
  • Closed-in shoes: $100 (approx.) - health and safety requirement for block courses and clinical work placement.
You will study 

Programme structure: Eight courses, totalling 120 credits, must be completed to gain this qualification.

Three delivery options will be available:

Full-time (distance or campus based) (Delivered over one year of study)

Each course below is 15 credits (Level 6)

  • Veterinary Nursing Professional Practice
  • Nursing Process, Disease Pathology, and Life Support
  • Fluid Therapy, Nutrition, Wound Care and Bandaging
  • Clinical Skills 1
  • Surgery, Anaesthesia, and Pharmacology
  • Imaging, Diagnostics and Dentistry
  • Clinical Skills 2
  • Veterinary Nursing Services

Part-time distance (Delivered over two years)

Year 1

Each course below is 15 credits (Level 6)

  • Veterinary Nursing Professional Practice
  • Nursing Process, Disease Pathology, and Life Support
  • Fluid Therapy, Nutrition, Wound Care and Bandaging
  • Clinical Skills 1

Year 2

Each course below is 15 credits (Level 6)

  • Surgery, Anaesthesia, and Pharmacology
  • Imaging, Diagnostics and Dentistry
  • Clinical Skills 2
  • Veterinary Nursing Services
Work experience requirements  

You must complete practical skills for the successful completion of this programme.

  • For all delivery options, a total of 240 hours of veterinary clinic work experience is required to complete clinical nursing skills.
  • Most skills are completed in the workplace, but some skills that are hard to obtain in practice are assessed in block courses.
  • You may complete work experience hours weekly or in blocks depending on what works for you, and the clinic.
  • We strongly encourage you to seek more than the minimum number of work experience hours to ensure the best application of new knowledge.
  • We suggest that you broaden you skills and aim to do work experience in at least two clinics during your studies.

 As part of our efforts to be ready for voluntary accreditation via the Allied Veterinary Professional Regulatory Council, our skills lists are mapped to the RCVS Day-One Competencies and the AVMA Clinical Competencies.

Your workload  
  • Full-time: 35-40 hours per week (including 7.5 hours per week in work placement)
  • Part-time Year 1: 17-20 hours per week (including 3.5 hours per week in work placement)
  • Part-time Year 2: Total 17-20 hours per week (including 4 hours per week in work placement)

All study is highly structured, including directed and self-directed learning and work placement in veterinary clinics.

Programme specific risks 

You will be given full training to minimise all programme specific risks. Examples of risks associated with this programme are: lifting, animal bites and scratches, zoonotic diseases, computers, radiation from x-rays, anaesthetic gases, chemicals and drugs, UV radiation, sharp instruments, electricity, fire, gas cylinders, mercury thermometers and specialised veterinary equipment. Your tetanus injection status will have to be up-to-date to handle any animals in this programme.

Further study options  

Continue learning and increase your employment potential with our New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Rural Animal Technician)

Student loans information

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

Recognition of Prior Learning 

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification. 

Links to useful websites
Social media links 

While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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