Types of UK Veterinary Practice

Yorkshire Vets & Equine Therapy

Veterinary Qualifications – What is a Qualified VET

What does MRCVS RCVS FRCVS mean and who regulates vets and veterinary nurses.

In order to practice veterinary medicine in the UK all vets must be members of the RCVS and have the initials MRCVS or FRCVS after their name.

These initials show that the vet has met the criteria required for RCVS membership because they possess a degree from a university recognised by the RCVS or have passed the MRCVS examination.

Some vets have other veterinary qualifications which they list after their name.

Many of these qualifications are awarded by the RCVS, although veterinary surgeons can also hold qualifications which are awarded by other organisations in the UK or overseas.


RCVS Vet Qualifications

A certificate is the first level postgraduate qualification awarded by the RCVS. A certificate holder is:

  • A competent clinician who has expertise in the subject proven by examination.
  • A professional who has had at least 2 years experience working in the subject area.

A diploma indicates that the holder has:

  • A high level of expertise in the specialist area
  • Passed an examination to prove their expertise
  • Normally had at least 5 years experience working in an area

Veterinary Qualifications


A holder of the Diploma of Fellowship of the RCVS has demonstrated significant original contribution in their subject and offered advances in knowledge in their chosen subject area.

A Fellowship is usually awarded following submission and examination of a thesis or for outstanding contributions to advancing knowledge. A member does not have to hold either a certificate or a diploma to embark on a Fellowship qualification.

RCVS Recognised Specialists

Veterinary surgeons who hold either a fellowship or diploma, can apply to be on the List of RCVS Recognised Specialists. Recognised Specialist Status has to be renewed every 5 years and RCVS Recognised Specialists have to:

  • Hold a high level qualification such as the RCVS Diploma, or other high level postgraduate qualification
  • Keep up to date and contribute to the advancement of the specialism
  • Be available for referrals from other veterinary surgeons

Veterinary Nurses and Qualifications

Veterinary Nurses:

In order for veterinary nurses (VNs) to enter the List of veterinary nurses, they need to hold a recognised VN qualification.

The RCVS has responsibility for managing the scheme to train veterinary nurses, and is the Awarding Body for the VN Scottish/National Vocational Qualification (S/NVQ).

Only RCVS Listed veterinary nurses may undertake medical treatment or certain types of minor surgery to a companion animal.

Once a veterinary nurse has qualified and is Listed, they are able to gain further qualifications in areas such as advanced veterinary nursing and equine veterinary nursing.