Approach to the Patient with Gastrointestinal Disease (Oct 2022)


6 week course (15 hours CPD), starting 24th October 2022



In recent years there has been a marked interest in identifying the causes of gastrointestinal disease in companion animals; the path to diagnosis has progressed with the identification of serological biomarkers and more access to endoscopy within general practice. Novel protein diets have been developed by veterinary food companies resulting in a positive effect on outcome in combination with pharmaceuticals for some animals.


The veterinary nurse plays a key role investigation, treatment and client support for these often, chronic cases. Having an enhanced level of knowledge on the pathophysiology and treatment options, together with a firm understanding of the diagnostic process is paramount to patient recovery.


After completing this 6 week online course, the participants will have a greater knowledge and understanding of the basic principles of gastrointestinal disease which they can apply regularly in practice.


Week 1
Diseases of the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract

  • Upper gastrointestinal tract (UGIT) anatomy refresher
  • UGIT hereditary and acquired abnormalities
  • Investigation of vomiting and regurgitation
  • Sedation and general anaesthesia considerations

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • List the main structures of the UGIT
  • Describe the normal function and processes of the UGIT
  • Identify the difference between vomiting and regurgitation and the common causes
  • Understand the diagnostic approach to patients with UGIT symptoms
  • Explain the reasons why patients with UGIT disease are higher risk for investigative procedures
  • Evaluate current methods used in practice to sedate patients with UGIT disease and analyse if modifications to practice would be beneficial.


Week 2
Diseases of the Lower Gastrointestinal Tract

  • Lower gastrointestinal tract (LGIT) anatomy refresher
  • LGIT pathophysiology
  • Mechanisms and classification of diarrhoea
  • Investigative process for LGIT symptoms
  • Patient preparation for GI endoscopy
  • Supportive treatment for patients with LGIT

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • List the main structures of the LGIT
  • Describe the normal function and processes of the LGIT
  • Differentiate diarrhoea types and common causes
  • Understand the diagnostic approach to patients with LGIT symptoms
  • Evaluate current care plans used in practice to prepare patients for endoscopy and analyse if modifications to practice would be beneficial
  • Summarise the key therapeutic treatments for patients with LGIT


Week 3
Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

  • Anatomy and functions of the gastroscope
  • Cleaning and sterilising procedures
  • Endoscopy sourcing, storage, and auditing

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • Label the main components and list the functions of a gastroscope
  • Explain the bedside procedure for cleaning and then sterilising the gastroscope
  • Select the correct biopsy tools and materials for optimal sampling and histological value
  • Evaluate practice protocols to standardise in line with current best practice


Week 4
Interventional Endoscopy

  • Foreign body removal
  • Balloon dilatation
  • Injection of steroids and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Endoscopically-placed feeding tubes

Learning objectives

After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • List the various interventional uses of gastrointestinal endoscopy
  • Select the correct forcep tool for foreign body retrieval
  • Describe the ballooning technique use for oesophageal strictures
  • Explain the indications, risks and technique for placing a PEG tube


Week 5
Nursing Patients with Gastrointestinal Disease

  • Nursing basics and care plans
  • Pain and emesis management
  • Oesophageal tube placement
  • Assisted feeding methods

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • List the essential care requirements for nursing patients with GI disease
  • Identify symptoms of pain and nausea
  • Compare patient assessment tools to monitor status and benchmark interventional treatment
  • Calculate energy requirements and feeding volumes for tube feeds


Week 6

Enteropathy Therapeutics and Nutrition

  • Terminology of diseases
  • Pathways and mechanisms of enteropathies
  • Medications and therapies
  • EBVM current information
  • Dietary needs

Learning objectives
After completion of this week, participants should be able to:

  • Differentiate between terms associated with chronic enteropathies
  • Analyse the treatments allocated to different types of enteropathy
  • Refer to updated resources and guidelines to further inform their knowledge and subsequently refer to it at a later date
  • Explain what a diet trial is
  • List the types of dietary allergen there are


The course will be fully tutored by Nicola Read and Gina Parkes and will consist of 15 hours of CPD given in various formats, including tutorials, tasks, case scenarios, forum discussions and quizzes.



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Nicola Read

PgC (Oncology Veterinary Nursing), DipAVN (Med), RVN


Nicola qualified in 2000 from a well-established small animal general practice in North West London where she also gained the D32/33 Assessor qualification. She spent a year at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in 2001 to gain experience in a charity based organisation and then moved to the Queen Mother Hospital, Royal Veterinary College in 2002, in order to study for the RCVS Advanced diploma. In June 2008 she became the Head Medicine Nurse at the Royal Veterinary College, then Head Oncology Nurse in 2015 after a departmental split. She is currently working towards a MSc in Veterinary Nursing and undertaking a PgC in Veterinary Education. Her clinical interests are endocrinology, gastroenterology, oncology immune-mediated disease and palliative care.




Gina Parkes

DipAVN(Small Animal), PgCert Vet Ed, FHEA, RVN


Gina qualified in Northern Ireland in 2008 and found a passion for nursing in teaching hospitals at the University of Melbourne. She returned to the UK and joined the Royal Veterinary College as the Senior Medicine Nurse in 2011. She won best clinical abstract presented by a nurse at BSAVA in 2015 and became the Head Medicine Nurse in 2016. She completed her PgCert in Veterinary Education in 2018 and has a passion for infection control, endoscopy and endocrinology

This online course is worth 15 hours of CPD.


A certificate will be available from the ‘My Courses’ section, for you to download and print, once you have completed the course.  A permanent record of your total CPD hours will also be recorded in your account section.


Upon purchase you will be registered to attend the course, for 6 weeks from the start date.  The course will consist of various interactive tasks and lessons, including quizzes, case studies, forum discussions and further reading material.


The course is fully tutored, with new material will be provided weekly, but the onus will be on the individual delegate to ensure that all tasks are fully complete.  The certificate will only be issued at the end of the course when all tasks have been accomplished.  Fewer CPD hours will be awarded at the the end of the course if there are unfinished tasks or there has been no contribution to the discussion forum, for example.


The course is fully flexible, and there are no weekly ‘deadlines’ – the lessons and tasks may be completed whenever is convenient for each delegate, and any live lessons with be recorded and made available in that format.   Furthermore, all the course material (excluding the interactive discussion forum) will be available for a further 2 weeks, to allow delegates the opportunity to catch up on missed lessons and tasks, or to take the opportunity to delve further into the suggested reading texts.  Please note however, that the course will not be tutored by the speaker during these final two weeks.


After 8 weeks, the course will be complete and there will be no further opportunity to gain the certificate or CPD hours, however, you will have unlimited lifetime access to the tutorials, further reading and quizzes for future reference.  If you make any personal notes during the course using the ‘take notes’ app, these will be saved, along with your certificate and CPD record for permanent access in ‘My CPD’.


For some further information about our Online Tutored CPD courses – please read our PDF guide to Online Tutored CPD