Certificate in Avian Wildlife Healthcare (Veterinarian) (Level 7)


Online with a practical placement at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital and possible block course

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 and one elective practical course (if undertaking surgical practical)

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
    8 November 2021 - 19 November 2021
    30 August 2021 - 10 September 2021
    27 December 2021 - 14 January 2022

Are you a qualified Veterinarian 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 Veterinarians and offers a unique and specialised development opportunity. 

Learning mainly online, you’ll be able to gain skills and knowledge in avian wildlife healthcare, with a focus on medicine and/or surgery. Content will include avian anatomy and physiology; trauma procedures and supportive care; post-mortem and pathophysiology; soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery; 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
> Plan and manage anaesthesia for avian wildlife patients
> Manage medical diseases in avian wildlife patients
> Perform diagnostics and diagnostic imaging and interpret results for avian wildlife patients, and
> Perform surgical procedures on avian wildlife patients.

Entry requirements

You must have the following:

> A Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Level 7) or equivalent.

> Registration with the Veterinary Council of New Zealand.

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. 


You’ll do four foundational, compulsory courses.  You’ll then choose three electives from a choice of six.   

Compulsory courses (25 credits) 

Avian Wildlife: Health Introduction for Veterinarians
(5 credits)

Provide species appropriate husbandry under the appropriate legal and ethical frameworks to avian wildlife.

> Interpret legal and ethical frameworks in relation to avian wildlife healthcare.

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

> Evaluate nutritional ecology in a range of avian wildlife species to determine nutritional requirements for hospitalised avian wildlife.

> Evaluate husbandry requirements in a range of avian wildlife species to determine husbandry requirements for hospitalised avian wildlife.   

Avian Wildlife: Triage, Care and Preliminary Diagnostics
(10 credits)

Determine initial diagnostic and supportive care requirements for avian wildlife.

> Evaluate status of avian wildlife to determine the initial diagnostic and supportive care requirements. 

Avian Wildlife: Anaesthesia
(5 credits)

Learn how to safely and effectively anaesthetise avian wildlife patients.

> Create a plan to safely anaesthetise and effectively monitor avian wildlife patients. 

Avian Wildlife: Wildlife Hospital Practicum for Veterinarians
(5 credits)

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

> Perform common clinical procedures undertaken by veterinarians for hospitalised avian wildlife patients.

> Critically reflect on development of clinical skills in the avian wildlife context. 

Elective courses (15 credits)

Avian Wildlife: Diagnostic Imaging
(5 credits)

Learn to use diagnostic imaging effectively in avian wildlife patients.

> Evaluate the application of a range of diagnostic imaging methods for avian wildlife species. 

Avian Wildlife: Diseases
(5 credits)

Effectively manage avian wildlife diseases.

> Create a plan for the diagnosis, treatment and management of a range of avian wildlife diseases. 

Avian Wildlife: Clinical Pathology and Post-Mortem
(5 credits)

Evaluate diagnostic results in avian wildlife patients.

> Evaluate haematological, biochemical and cytological responses to physiological and pathological conditions for avian wildlife patients.

> Evaluate post-mortem procedures for avian wildlife species. 

Avian Wildlife: Soft Tissue Surgery
(5 credits)

Gain the theoretical knowledge needed to perform soft tissue surgery for avian wildlife.

> Evaluate common soft tissue surgical procedures for avian wildlife patients. 

Avian Wildlife: Orthopaedic Surgery
(5 credits)

Gain the theoretical knowledge needed to perform orthopaedic surgery for avian wildlife.

> Evaluate knowledge of common orthopaedic surgical procedures for avian wildlife patients. 

Avian Wildlife: Surgery Practicum
(5 credits)

Develop your skills in performing avian wildlife surgery.

> Perform radiographic and endoscopic procedures for diagnosis in a clinical environment for avian wildlife patients.

> Perform common surgical procedures on avian wildlife patients. 

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. 

A surgical practicum in Dunedin will be arranged once class numbers are ascertained for the surgical elective. 

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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