ACM40412 / ACM40418 Certificate iV in VETERINARY NURSING


If you’re willing to take on a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing student long term on Vocational Placement, read on to see what the requirements are.

If your student is employed – click here as the structure is different.

Quick links


Download the following documents to assist you in deciding whether to take a student or not. Further details are provided after registering.

Course handbook


If you’re not already a registered and approved Veterinary Nursing Clinical Mentor with ACVN, you’ll need to register.


Please note:
For offline registration, you will need to print, complete in full, then return the registration packet either via post or email. You’re welcome to hand it to the student to arrange to return the form.



The ACM40418 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing is the current qualification for qualified veterinary nurses. The ACM40412 Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing has been superseded and all enrolled students must complete their studies prior to December 2019. The information on this page covers both versions of the qualification.

Some providers may allow Cert IV students to enrol before they have placement lined up – not ACVN. Most our Cert IV students are employed – if this is your nurse, please click here to go to the pertinent information.

If a Cert II or III in Animal Studies graduate is lucky enough to have a clinic willing to offer them longer term vocational placement, we will accept their enrolment.



As part of their course, students must undertake both work experience and vocational placement in order to develop their practical skills. The primary placement is their vocational placement, which is one day a week for the majority of the course. Secondary to this, students will also undertake “Intensive Placements” covering specific skills. These fall under work experience and are designed for students to get more exposure to set skills for example, just anaesthesia.

As vocational placement must be structured, students complete their placements in line with the subjects they are studying at that time and cannot progress until all the course requirements for that module (or group of subjects) have been met.



There is strict legislation around how much unpaid work a student can undertake for a course and how it must be documented. This is to ensure that students are not taken advantage of and that workplaces are operating within the requirements of the Fair Work Act.

The vast majority of clinical placement for our ACVN students occurs under a vocational placement agreement. This is where the student, workplace and training provider agree to a structured training plan with specific training goals in place that align to the units of study. This is different to work experience, which doesn’t require a structured training plan to be in place.


Vocational Placement

Vocational placement occurs one day a week over the two-year course, starting approximately 2 months in. Due to legislative requirements, vocational placement must be structured and the clinic must agree to allow the student to work in the areas related to their current scheduled study.

To meet legislative requirements, students can only complete one day of vocational placement a week (no more, no less). In total, students will clock up around 750 hours of vocational placement whilst completing their course – almost double of many other providers.


Work Experience for Intensive Placements

That is not the only practical experience our students get. Placement Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing students must also undertake four lots of work experience. We call these the Intensive Placements. These are blocks of work experience in just a particular area of veterinary nursing and are designed to help students cement their skills. If a student has credit transfers that cover all associated units, their requirements may be reduced.

These Intensives are done across surgical nursing, anaesthesia, ward nursing and reception. These intensive placements add an extra 300 hours of experience for our graduates.  Each one is 10 days in duration and performed within a 3-week block to ensure they are getting constant exposure and opportunity to practice the highlighted skills.

Some of these Intensive Placements can be performed at the same clinic as their Vocational Placement, others must be performed at a different clinic to get a wider exposure to different clinical practices. In rare circumstances, such as rural students with limited opportunities,  we may grant permission for them to all be completed at the Vocational Placement clinic.



After the student has completed their Vocational Placement (entire course), we’ll send you a thank you pack which contains the following:

  • Appreciation Certificate – if it’s your first student
  • Set of ACVN Crib Cards or Nurse’s Pouch (your choice) – if it’s your first student
  • $250 ACVN Short Course Voucher
  • $500 ACVN Qualification discount

Of course, as a registered and approved Clinical Mentor, you’ll also have access to our online Free CPD area on once it’s finished. You’ll find over 40 free webinars complete with certificates of completion. 

Clinics and Mentors who take on a student just for an intensive placement will receive:

  • Certificate of Appreciation – if it’s your first student
  • Set of ACVN Crib Cards or Nurse’s Pouch (your choice) – if it’s your first student
  • $250 ACVN Short Course Voucher (per placement).


This section summarises the steps that must occur before a student can officially start placement at your clinic. The student is responsible for ensuring all these steps are completed prior to starting, however, your cooperation for completing registration and forms quickly is greatly appreciated.



Before you, or your clinic, is able to host a work placement student, there are a few steps that both you, and the student, will need to complete.

Firstly, your clinic must be an approved training clinic. For more information on this process, pop over to this page. It’s completely free and your clinic registration lasts for two years. Clinic registration covers Cert II, III and IV students.

All vets and nurses involved in mentoring ACVN students must register and be approved Clinical Mentors. Again, this is free, and in return for hosting the student, you’ll receive some great perks. For general information on being a Clinical Mentor – read this page.

The final step is to ensure both a Vocational Placement Agreement& Training Plan is completed and signed by a clinic representative, the student or their guardian, and a representative of the training organisation. This is an extremely important document to ensure we all meet legislative requirements and it is used to start the placement insurance coverage.



Prior to commencing placement, all students are required to complete and pass the ‘WHS in the Vet Clinic’ and ‘Animal Behaviour and Handling’ subjects. We also recommend they complete all theory related to the placement skills, prior to commencing placement.

The mandatory subjects are there to ensure the student understands how to keep safe when in a veterinary clinic. However, you should still do a WHS induction on day one like any new staff member, to ensure you have met your duty of care and any WHS responsibilities.

As the student progresses, they must complete the module (a group of subjects, much like a semester) and all the associated requirements before they can move onto the next module. In the rare case a student is very behind in their course, new vocational placement agreements may need to be put in place to ensure we are all compliant with legislation. In even rarer cases, students failing to progress in line with the training plan may be withdrawn from the course or prevented from attending placement until they meet course requirements.

The Vocational Placement agreement is an agreement that all parties will follow the structure – including the student.



The following Intensive Placements also have mandatory pre-requisite study. It has been shown that undertaking the pre-reading and activities prior to attending clinical placement leads to better learning outcomes for the student, so we enforce these requirements very strictly. It also reduces teaching time for the mentor, as the student has the underlying theory.


Intensive Placement 1 (Reception & Product Advice)

This first placement is about cementing skills out the front of the Veterinary Clinic. We recommend it is completed at the end, or towards the end, of the Module 2 folder, after the associated subjects are complete.


Intensive Placement 2 (Surgery)

This placement is all about mastering surgical nursing skills, excluding anaesthesia. The student must complete Surgical Nursing A and Infection Control subjects prior to completing.


Intensive Placement 3 (Ward Nursing)

This placement must be undertaken at a different clinic to vocational placement to ensure students are being exposed to a different case load and clinic protocols. This occurs at the end of Module 3.


Intensive Placement 4 (Anaesthesia)

Anaesthesia is a large part of veterinary nursing and one of the hardest aspects of nursing to master. This intensive cannot be completed until after the student has passed Anaesthesia in module 4. Throughout this placement, students are required to remain involved with the monitoring of anaesthesia patients all day.


This section summarises the practical assessments that the student will need to complete whilst on placement. Of course, they will need time to learn and practice these tasks before jumping into their assessments, so most of these will occur towards the end of their placement. Their time in your clinic needs to be structured around having the opportunity to learn these skills from the Clinical Mentors.



Video assessments are where the student videos themselves performing a task, then submits this online for assessment. To meet the requirements of Nationally Recognised Training, a qualified trainer and assessor (for ACVN this is our Nurse Educators) must observe the student undertaking the required tasks correctly. A student cannot be deemed competent or graduate unless this occurs.

Traditionally, this has occurred by an assessor visiting the workplace. As we are a distance provider, we utilise video assessment to keep our course affordable and accessible. Video assessment is also less strain on the clinic, as particular cases and procedures do not need to be scheduled for an assessor visit. Videos can be done around normal workflow.

For most videos, there is no need for additional staff to be involved. Smart phones or video cameras can be mounted or supported on a surface near by. For some videos, we ask to see the student interact with other staff so we can assess vital communication skills. Some videos are better off done as a simulation to better meet clinic requirements.

Students are provided with thorough instructions to ensure they capture the required skill in full. Mentors are provided with further instructions, where necessary, as part of this website.

Click here for an example of the video instructions we provide to students.


Vocational Placement

There are a number of videos that students must produce across the two years of their course, covering all aspects of veterinary nursing. Some videos can be done at home if the student has the right equipment and animals (Eg. nail clipping).

Some videos require other staff interaction, but we do our best to limit this. For animal handling they must request the help of staff member, dispensing a medication requires it to be confirmed with the vet, and the admission and discharge videos are best done with a fellow nurse or vet acting in the role of the client. Other staff involvement needs to occur in feeding plans where the student must verify requirements and check calculations with the vet/supervisor.

All placement students for Cert IV come to us with credits, so they are not required to do all videos within the course. As credits can vary between courses and providers, we are unable to advise exactly what videos a student will have to produce.


Intensive Placements

These placements are about gaining experience in a set area, so there are no videos assigned, however, students are more than welcome to use them to complete off both Key Skills & Videos, especially if they are unable to complete at their regular Vocational Placement clinic.

KEY SKILLS (Third party reports)


Key Skills are a record of tasks that the student has undertaken in your clinic. Each Key Skill sheet has explicit instructions, and the student should complete all the necessary data before presenting it to you for a signature and date. Key Skills demonstrate that the student has performed a task on multiple occasions, to the level you’d expect of an employee. These replace, and are much less intensive than, the old “tick and flick” style third party reports used in the past.

Click here for an example. Further instructions and information are provided to mentors via this website (once you are registered and approved).

As for videos, the amount a student needs to complete will depend on the credits they enrolled in.