Improved communication and delegation skills are just two of thebenefits of the new RCVS postgraduate Certificate in AdvancedVeterinary Practice (CertAVP), as the first two candidates discoveredafter taking their new-found skills back into practice.

Stuart Jackson, from Carterton, Oxfordshire, and Austin Kirwan, from Ormskirk, Lancashire, are the first to gain the CertAVP (VetGP) qualification. Their achievement comes after many years of campaigning by SPVS for a modular postgraduate qualification with a greater focus on GP skills.

Stuart, principal vet at the Jackson Veterinary Clinic in Oxfordshire, said: “The introduction of the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice gave me hope and encouragement for the future of general veterinary practice. I was initially attracted to the certificate because of the inclusion of clinical audit. For a long time, I have felt that this is the way practices should evolve and that it is a valid method of analysing practitioners’ performances. I have learned that involving the staff and delegating to their strengths is important in achieving a successful outcome for the audits.”

The new CertAVP (VetGP) was created after SPVS set up a working party in 1998, which led to the formation of the first SPVS Masters Group of eight practising vets – five of whom went on to become the Doctorate Group. This original group undertook a research project looking at the feasibility of a vet GP certificate within the University system.

Paul Manning, one of a handful of vets so far to achieve the Doctorate in Advanced Veterinary Practice and a member of the SPVS Doctorate Group, was an essential driver in the development of the new qualification. He explains that the new qualification will “help to improve practice life and profitability considerably”.

He said: “A large part of the new focus is on an incredibly important area that has been sadly neglected over the years. Good consultation skills can separate a good GP from a bad one, and rightly so. It is not just about being approachable but about explaining things clearly and making sure that the owner is made fully aware of all the options and the recommended course of treatment.

“These so-called ‘soft skills’ are vital in today’s modern practice and young vets in particular are excited by the CertAVP (VetGP) qualification.”

He added: “It has been a long road to achieving this but, now we have it, I firmly believe that it will change the system of postgraduate education in the veterinary profession and may act as a model for other professions in the future.”

Other practitioners have passed their A and B modules and are working through their C modules, and some have either nearly completed or submitted their portfolios and are awaiting final assessment by their respective colleges, overseen by the RCVS. There are more than 400 vets now enrolled for the RCVS CertAVP.

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