Veterinary Nursing

Our animal care and veterinary nursing programmes focus on promoting the health, husbandry and welfare of animals. So, if you are passionate about working with animals, you could find yourself in a range of rewarding settings.

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Learn the skills you need to succeed in the veterinary industry as a nurse or rural animal technician. We have a wide range of qualifications and courses, from companion animal veterinary nursing to rural animal technology and programmes in avian wildlife for graduates.

You’ll gain significant industry-related work experience and benefit from the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, and our simulation veterinary clinic.

Otago Polytechnic is the first New Zealand polytechnic to hold the Certified Low-Stress Handling for Dogs and Cats Award, which means you’ll also graduate knowing the best way to handle and care for an animal.

The biggest point of difference at Otago Polytechnic is our real-world approach to learning. The experience you’ll gain on your work placements as part of your studies will give you the skills to seamlessly transition from study to employment or promotion.

Veterinary Nursing qualifications

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

Designed to create a training pathway for those wanting a rewarding career as an Animal Healthcare Assistant, this new programme recognises the role as distinct from a Veterinary Nurse or Veterinary Technician.

Duration

1 Year Full-time

2 Years Part-time

Delivery

Flexible facilitated

Career potential

Animal Healthcare Assistant

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

This programme is the first step towards becoming a qualified veterinary nurse, and leads into the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. You'll learn how to work alongside veterinarians and veterinary nurses in a clinical environment and enjoy industry-based experience as a major part of this programme. Keen for a one-year course of study? Check out our New Zealand Certificate in Animal Healthcare Assisting.

Duration

1 Year Full-time

2 Years Part-time

Delivery

Flexible facilitated, On campus

Location

Online with block courses, Dunedin

Career potential

Veterinary Nursing Assistant

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

Complete this to become a qualified veterinary nurse. This one-year programme is only for those who already hold a New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Veterinary Nursing Assistant), or the older version of this qualification, the National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing.

Duration

1 Year Full-time

2 Years Part-time

Delivery

Flexible facilitated, On campus

Location

Wellington, Dunedin, Online

Career potential

Veterinary Nurse

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

This new programme is designed to provide a clear, industry-relevant pathway for those wishing to start a career as a Rural Animal Veterinary Technician. As a graduate you will work directly and indirectly with veterinarians in rural practice to meet the healthcare needs of our primary production animals.

Duration

2 Years Full-time

4 Years Part-time

Delivery

Flexible facilitated

Career potential

Rural Animal Technician

Agriculture & Animal Healthcare

For the first time in the South Island, and in collaboration with the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), we are now offering the third year of this qualification online. Otago Polytechnic Veterinary Nursing learners can now pathway through the Level 5 Certificate during year one, the Level 6 Diploma during year two and then move into this EIT qualification to complete their degree-level Veterinary Nursing study.

Duration

1 Year Full-time

Delivery

Online with a work placement

Career potential

Animal Career Educator, Specialist Clinic Roles, Veterinary Nurse, Veterinary Nurse Educator

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New Vet Nursing programme in 2024

We’re excited to be offering a new diploma programme from 2024. This qualification is listed by NZQA and in the final stages of consultation. Visit this page for more information or email vetnusing@op.ac.nz to find out what might suit you best.

Study Animal Care

Study Animal Care

Check out our suite of courses in Animal Care working with rural or companion animals.

Chris Neville

Chris Neville

After graduating, Chris now supervises at a dog-care facility, interacting, playing with and monitoring the dogs in his care.

Specialise in Avian Wildlife

Specialise in Avian Wildlife

Our specialist avian wildlife courses are tailored to qualified veterinary nurses and vets.

Discover our School of Veterinary Nursing

Get a taste of what it's like to study this field at Otago Polytechnic:

  • See all programmes offered 
  • Meet your lecturers and find out what makes them leaders in their chosen area  
  • Hear about our latest news and events  
  • Learn first-hand what it’s like to study with us from real students and graduates  
  • Read about our postgraduate research and projects

School of Veterinary Nursing

Contact us

If you’re not sure what to study and would like some guidance, we’re here to help. Feel free to chat to us directly about any questions you may have.