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Lifelong Learning
Postgraduate education: what is needed?

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WHO benefits from postgraduate veterinary qualifications? What do practitioners hope to gain from further training? And what methods of learning are most effective?

These were among the questions considered during a debate entitled ‘The future of veterinary postgraduate education – what do we want and what do we need?’, which was organised by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) in London on September 22.

Joining Frances Barr, the BSAVA's academic director, on the discussion panel for the debate were Bradley Viner, founder of the Blythwood Veterinary Group in Middlesex and a member of RCVS Council; Neil Forbes, president of the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation; and Stephen May, deputy principal with specific responsibilities for teaching at the Royal Veterinary College.

The panel agreed that postgraduate qualifications were useful, in particular as a way of encouraging practitioners to engage in further study. ‘There is recognition for yourself as a highly qualified veterinary professional,’ said Mr Forbes, noting that there was also recognition from other members of the profession and from the public. ‘It's important that the public can, in an objective and transparent way, see the level of qualification that the individual clinician has.’

Professor May agreed. The primary role of the profession was to protect the public and their animals, and its members were obliged to ensure that the public had access to the relevant expertise. However, the public did not always understand what different qualifications meant, and there was a need to clarify this. He suggested that a formal middle tier of qualifications should be established to recognise a level of training and expertise below that of a recognised specialist but above that of an ordinary practitioner.

Mr Forbes pointed out that the situation was complicated further by …

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