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Postgraduate business education: putting theory into practice
  1. Hannah Yeates and
  2. Sarah Abraham

Abstract

Since its inception in November 2011, the University of Liverpool's certificate in veterinary business management has graduated six students and, with 35 currently enrolled in the programme, it says that the demand for postgraduate business management education is growing. Here, two of the programme's recent graduates, Hannah Yeates and Sarah Abraham, explain what they got out of the programme

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Where do you currently work?

I joined BCF Technology, a veterinary imaging company, at the beginning of this year. My role involves tending to the needs of over 400 practices in my area as well as helping the clinical team on a national level.

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Why did you enrol on the certificate?

After graduating from the Royal Veterinary College in 2009, I worked in mixed and equine practice both in the UK and abroad. During this time I became interested in veterinary business management and how its optimisation could benefit the health and welfare of the animals in my care.

The certificate in veterinary business management provided a comprehensive programme covering the key areas involved in running a business. Throughout every stage the teaching was related back to the veterinary profession, which was a feature that made this qualification stand out from other courses I had looked at.

How did you find the online distance education style of learning fitted in to your life and career?

I worked while studying, volunteered and travelled the world (12 countries in total). The distance educational style enabled me to continue learning and working towards a postgraduate qualification where other, more traditional methods could not.

About the programme

Liverpool's certificate in veterinary business management (CertVBM) is a structured e-learning programme that can be taken as stand alone CPD or as a postgraduate certificate. It is open to anyone working in, or wanting to work in, veterinary business management, such as practice/office managers and veterinary staff.

The module is divided into weekly study blocks with participants being assessed throughout the module. When they access the structured modules, the topics and assessment deadlines are listed, allowing them to plan around their work or home commitments. Full library access and facilitated peer group discussion are provided alongside support and guidance.

Online modules

Students must complete the introduction module, four core modules and a work-based learning module.

Modules

Introduction to veterinary business studies is compulsory (four weeks). The four core modules are: marketing; finance and accounting; human resources; and business strategy and entrepreneurship. Study for each of the core modules is 16 weeks; they are provided on a rolling basis throughout the programme and can be studied in any order. The final module – also compulsory and 16 weeks long – involves work-based learning (www.liv.ac.uk/vets/cpd/online-modules/business-management.htm)

How to enrol

Enrolment on the CertVBM programme is open to candidates with a degree in veterinary science, veterinary nursing or a business management related subject.

For applicants without the necessary prerequisite higher education training, but who have been working in veterinary business management for over 12 months, applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, with a minimum of two references being required.

More information and booking forms are available from cpdvets@liverpool.ac.uk or telephone 0151 794 6016.

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What impact has the programme had on your daily life/career?

As part of my job I work with a variety of veterinary practices, each with differing needs and requirements.

The course has equipped me with a more pragmatic approach to practice whereby I can apply validated business principles to continually develop and improve services for both clients and patients. I gain great satisfaction from this aspect of my job.

Who do you think would get the most from the programme?

One of the most enjoyable aspects for me was discussing and developing ideas with people from a variety of backgrounds; academia, nursing and practice management, as well as veterinary surgeons.

I would recommend the course to anyone within the veterinary industry who wishes to gain a greater understanding of business and the impact it can have on patient care.

Where do you currently work?

When I enrolled on the course I was working within the marketing and management team of a large mixed animal practice. During the course I was offered a position at a large pharmaceutical company, and I have been in this role for just over a year.

Why did you enrol?

Having completed other business courses, I was looking for a qualification that focused on business in the veterinary sector. Working with vets I had heard that Liverpool's certificate programme was well thought of and that the modular style of learning would suit my busy schedule. Having looked into the CertVBM, the course modules seemed to fit perfectly with what I was aiming to achieve, which was to gain a broader skill set and to increase my business acumen so that I could apply it to my daily role.

How did you find the online distance education style of learning fitted in to your life and career?

The programme is set up on an online portal; this allowed me to fit in the learning at home during the evenings and weekends. It meant that I could focus on my job during the day and my learning during the evening without having to leave the comfort of my own home.

What impact has the programme had on your daily life/career?

What really works on this programme is the mix of learning and peer reviews; this allowed me to not only learn from readings and lecture notes but also to share my experiences and learn from others.

The programme has deepened my veterinary business knowledge and helped me to refine my communication skills. Through broadening my expertise I have the ability and increased confidence to tackle day-to-day obstacles. I can also offer more to my employer, as I am able to look at problems and opportunities in a new way and apply my learning to a variety of situations.

Who do you think would get the most from the programme?

This programme could benefit anyone who is currently working within the veterinary sector and looking to work within a veterinary business management role.

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