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Associate Degree in Veterinary Nursing first in Australia

08 Dec 2014

La Trobe’s new Veterinary Nursing degree, delivered at the Melbourne Polytechnic Epping Campus, now provides graduates with a work-ready qualification.

This degree is offered through Melbourne Polytechnic in partnership with La Trobe University. Graduates will have their degrees conferred by La Trobe University, and degree testamurs will feature the La Trobe seal and logo.

Visit our new course information page for more details: 


Melbourne Polytechnic has announced that the first Australian Associate Degree of Veterinary Nursing will be welcoming students in 2015 in purpose-built facilities at its Epping campus in Victoria.

Anyone who has dreamed of a career caring for animals will be interested in this course, which will equip graduates for careers ranging from veterinary nursing all the way through to running their own veterinary practice.

It’s the first course of its kind in Australia, and is the result of three years of planning by Melbourne Polytechnic and the Course Coordinator, veterinarian Dr Meg Dietze, previously a lecturer in Melbourne Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Equine Studies, who carried out extensive industry consultation for the development of this course.

“The United Kingdom introduced Veterinary Nursing degrees fourteen years ago, and they are now offered by fourteen institutions there. We are excited to be the first to offer an associate degree course specifically designed for veterinary nursing in Australia,” said Dr Dietze. 

The two-year Associate Degree of Veterinary Nursing is a response to demand for a qualification that provides advanced opportunities in the animal industry. The prestigious Myerscough College in the UK advised and reviewed materials, and Dr Dietze also set up a local Advisory Reference Group comprising key advisers from the field.

“Vets are looking for nurses with advanced qualifications, especially in larger or more complex practices, and nurses are looking for pathways for advancement and opportunities to manage their own businesses,” said Dr Dietze, who consulted with the industry both in Australia and overseas to design the course.

One of the most challenging aspects for current veterinary nursing students is finding clinical placements to gain hands-on experience. The Melbourne Polytechnic Associate Degree of Veterinary Nursing course includes extensive industry experience, including clinical placements at Lort Smith Animal Hospital in North Melbourne throughout the course, combined with a final six month “internship” to enable students to gain experience in a range of practices.

This landmark agreement with Lort Smith ensures that graduates will gain in-depth experience in a range of situations and across a wide range of species. They will be supervised and taught by visiting Melbourne Polytechnic academic experts, as well as being coached and supported by experienced nurses and veterinarians who have been specially trained to act as clinical coaching associates.

In addition, students will be rotated through a variety of veterinary practices and industry areas in their final six months internship period, to gain further diverse experience.

General Manager of Nursing Services at Lort Smith, Dana Keirs, said the Associate Degree will have positive impact, not just on employers like Lort Smith but on the veterinary profession as a whole.

“We rely heavily on experienced, well trained nurses who play a critical role in Lort Smith’s work. Through our association with Melbourne Polytechnic, we will have confidence and certainty in the level of training and knowledge that the graduates will bring to their roles,” said Ms Keirs.

“It’s a huge win for the vet nursing profession and will enhance its status and improve career options for nurses.”

Through the training offered in the Associate Degree of Veterinary Nursing, graduates will also be trained in the advanced interpersonal skills required to lead teams and manage practices.

“Working effectively with humans is just as important as being able to work with animals,” said Dr Dietze. “Whether it’s their colleagues in the practice, or the family members who are distressed about their pets, or people in the community who need to be educated about issues relevant to animal welfare, veterinary nurses need to be able to interact well with everyone they deal with.”

To help with this, over the duration of the course the students use an imaginary suburb, “Petsville North”, as the context for their study.  This helps them think about and address the wide variety of situations they may have to deal with – different pet species, wildlife rescues, different pet owner situations, and all sorts of harm scenarios – for example, a pet being hit by a car, eating something toxic, or being bitten by another animal. These case studies involving animals and their family members, will also help students develop a holistic approach to veterinary nursing, where they will learn to develop personalised veterinary nursing care plans tailored to the needs of individual patients.

Come and see the facilities for yourself at the Melbourne Polytechnic Information and Enrolment Night The staff of the Associate Degree in Veterinary Nursing will be conducting tours of the brand new facilities at the Epping campus. 

Checkout our website for further information on the associate degree

You can also take a look around the facilities on Facebook, hosted by the lovely Ruby, the cutest canine course representative:

Read about this in the Northern Star Weekly, on the Lort Smith website, and in Vet Practice Magazine.

Interview / Photo Opportunities

Media enquiries should be directed to the Melbourne Polytechnic Communications Officer, Anita Coia, on 03 9269 1251 or ua.ud1556210913e.tim1556210913n@aio1556210913catin1556210913a1556210913

Melbourne Polytechnic operates across six campuses and six specialist training centres throughout Melbourne’s north and south east plus a regional campus at Ararat. The institute delivers high quality vocational education in industry-standard facilities.