Undertaking a Post-Graduate Certificate

In October 2012 I began a post-graduate certificate in advanced veterinary practice (CertAVP). This was an online modular course, broken up into 6 four-month courses. It started with the ‘Foundations of advanced practice module’; this involved aspects such as communication skills, legal issues, welfare matters and basic emergency care. This was a great refresher as it let me take the communication skills I had learnt in the 4 years of practice before starting the module, and have them tuned up with advice from professionals. It also took a more in depth look at the ‘Code of Professional Conduct’: a Royal College document advising vets on their conduct. I came away from this module with a more in depth understanding of communication, conduct and my duties to fellow professionals and clients (one of the things hard to prepare for in vet school).

The second module was the ‘Small Animal Practice’ module. This covered a range of studies; mainly medicine and surgery from first-opinion practice. This module relied on discussion with fellow students, preparing and writing case-reports, clinical discussions, analysing journal articles, and studying and revising lectures from the online university provider (Liverpool University). Although in day to day practice I don’t write case reports or look up journals on all my patients, it really helped my thinking process, especially when dealing with a more difficult case or when I had to research subjects I wasn’t familiar with. The analytical skills taken from ‘Journal Club’, where we took articles apart in regards the clinical context, statistics and information, has been very useful when I’m trying to wade through information from drug reps, laboratory reports and complicated cases.

The next four modules were the more advanced clinical modules, each taking four months. There was a range of modules to choose from. I quite like medicine, so I decided to focus mainly on this as it helps me more in my first opinion practice, even during straight-forward consults. I also sat an Anaesthesia & Analgesia module before starting the medicine modules, this was a great way to brush up on my anaesthetic care, and understanding pain medicine and critical care for patients.

The medicine modules covered a wide range of matters in-depth: I started with infectious diseases, neurology and oncology, then moved to the next module of cardiology, respiratory medicine, haematology and endocrinology. The last medicine module covered gastroenterology, urogenital, critical-care and nutrition. These modules have been a great refresher on my vet school learning, as well as updating knowledge and improving my analytical thinking and ability to deal with a more complicated case. With a CertAVP, I’m not a medicine specialist, but hopefully I can benefit my patients more than before with this extra knowledge. Over the coming months I’m considering sitting the ‘synoptic exam’, basically an exam on the 3 medicine modules, which will be a nice (or not so nice) way to revise all the content and bring it all together!