Certificate in Avian Wildlife Healthcare (Veterinary Nurses) (Level 6)


Online with a practical placement at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital

One year part-time; full-time not available

Self-paced online delivery with facilitated online tutorials and support. One compulsory five-day practical course delivered at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital.

18 July 2022
Please note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this intake may not be able to go ahead. A decision will be made in April 2022 and this page updated then.
30 June 2022
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Distance
    31 May 2021
    4 October 2021 - 22 October 2021
    19 July 2021 - 30 July 2021
    27 December 2021 - 14 January 2022

Are you a qualified Veterinary Nurse who is increasingly being presented with injured or sick avian wildlife during your daily practice? 

This course, offered in collaboration with the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, is the only one of its kind in New Zealand aimed at Veterinary Nurses and offers a unique and specialised professional development opportunity. 

Learning mainly online, you’ll be able to gain skills and knowledge in avian wildlife healthcare, with a focus on patient support and management. Content will include avian anatomy and physiology; trauma procedures and supportive care; imaging; and contextual aspects of law and ethics. 

A five-day practical placement at the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, one of New Zealand’s only specialist avian healthcare provider, will enable you to get some fantastic hands-on practice. 

Graduates will have the skills, knowledge and capabilities to:

> Ensure optimal standards of welfare and outcomes for avian wildlife patients

> Manage nursing care for avian wildlife patients with medical diseases

> Perform, or assist veterinarians with diagnostics and diagnostic imaging for avian wildlife patients

> Assist veterinarians in the management of avian wildlife anaesthesia. 

Entry requirements

> New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6) or equivalent.

If English is not your first language, you must provide:

> New Zealand University Entrance OR

> Overall Academic IELTS 6.0 with no individual band score lower than 5.5 (achieved in one test completed in the last two years), OR

> Acceptable alternative evidence of the required IELTS (see here for NZQA proficiency table and here for list of recognised proficiency tests).

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes

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 vetnursing@op.ac.nz. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.  

Selection process

If the number of applicants exceeds the available places, a waitlist will be used to ensure preference is given to applicants in order of application. 


Avian Wildlife: Health Introduction for Veterinary Nurses
(Level 6, 10 credits)

Gain the background knowledge you need in avian wildlife before progressing to the main body of the training scheme.

> Apply legal and ethical frameworks to avian wildlife health care.

> Apply knowledge of anatomical and physiological features of avian wildlife species to veterinary nursing in clinical practice.

> Apply knowledge of nutritional ecology in a range of avian wildlife species to nursing avian wildlife.

> Apply knowledge of husbandry in a range of avian wildlife species to nursing avian wildlife. 

Avian Wildlife: Supportive Veterinary Nursing Care
(Level 6, 10 credits)

Discover how to determine initial supportive care requirements for avian wildlife.

> Create a veterinary nursing care plan for the supportive care of avian wildlife patients. 

Avian Wildlife: Anaesthesia
(Level 6, 5 credits)

Learn how to safely and effectively support the veterinarian in the management of safe anaesthesia in avian wildlife patients.

> Discuss the role of the veterinary nurse in the safe anaesthesia of avian wildlife patients. 

Avian Wildlife: Wildlife Hospital Practicum for Veterinary Nurses
(Level 6, 5 credits)

Demonstrate and reflect on the common clinical procedures required to be carried out in hospitalised avian wildlife patients.

> Carry out common clinical procedures undertaken by veterinary nurses to support hospitalised avian wildlife patients.

> Reflect on the development of your own veterinary nursing clinical skills in the avian wildlife context. 

Avian Wildlife: Diagnostic Imaging
(Level 6, 5 credits)

Learn how to support the veterinarian in the use of diagnostic imaging in avian wildlife patients.

> Discuss a range of diagnostic imaging methods for avian wildlife.

> Discuss the role of the veterinary nurse in diagnostic imaging of avian wildlife species. 

Avian Wildlife: Diseases
(Level 6, 5 credits)

Learn to effectively nurse avian wildlife diseases.

> Create avian wildlife veterinary nursing care plans for patients with specific diseases. 

Practical placement

A five-day practical placement will be held sometime during November to February to coincide with the busy season. This will give you a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills. 

Please note: This session will be coordinated by you and your tutor as only one to two students can be accommodated at one time. This will ensure the best experience for each student. 

Your workload

All of your study is highly-structured, guided and self-directed and you will need to have good time management skills. You should typically aim for around 12.5 hours of study per week. You’ll be required to engage with the online resources and activities, and complete assessments and the practical placement. 

Additional costs

> Photocopy and printing costs for personal work and assessments.

> Travel, accommodation (if required) and food costs associated with attendance at animal facility work placements. 

Student loans and allowances

Please note that students studying this programme are not eligible for student loans and allowances.  


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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