A registered veterinary nurse believes she is the first in the UK to achieve a US veterinary technician specialty (VTS) in neurology.

Karen Church is now a member of the American Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians in the neurology subspeciality.

Karen Church is now a member of the American Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians in the neurology subspeciality having passed an exam in Indianapolis, after months of practical and written work.

Miss Church, 33, who works for Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists in Ringwood, Hampshire, was delighted and honoured to have achieved the VTS neurology qualification.

“I believe I am the first veterinary nurse in the UK to have got it, although others have achieved the VTS in oncology, cardiology and small animal internal medicine,” she said.

“I was the only Brit sitting the exam in June. They were all laughing at how far I’d travelled – I wasn’t laughing at the time, though, it was quite scary. But I am really pleased to have passed.”

Miss Church qualified as an RVN in 2006 and joined Southern Counties in 2008. A year later, she began working in its neurology department and is now a senior veterinary nurse there.

She said she stumbled across the US qualification on the internet and felt it offered her more than a UK diploma could, as it focused on neurology.

“I wanted to base my qualification on the area in which I work,” she said. “Now I have achieved this I can go out and spread the word.”

To be eligible for the US qualification, veterinary nurses need to have at least five years’ experience in the discipline and completed at least 40 hours CPD on it.

Two letters of recommendation from colleagues who hold diplomas in neurology or the equivalent are also required and Miss Church said she was grateful for the help and support from her department head Nadia Shihab, a diplomate from the European College of Veterinary Neurology.

Once the academy accepts an application, candidates start work on a casebook, which runs from September through to the following year. They have to demonstrate 32 skills, covering areas such as imaging, assisting with MRI and muscle biopsies.

Of these cases, four are then selected for an extended essay, in which the nurse elaborates on his or her involvement. Once that casebook is passed, the candidate then sits the final exam.

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