Vet learning is evolving... - Veterinary Practice
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Vet learning is evolving…

Chris Whipp charts his company’s history and looks at how, from humble beginnings, it has grown to pave the way for its primary care modules to become widely available and flexible.

LITTLE DID WE REALISE, in 1998, where we were heading when the founders of what has become known as Vet Learning came together in the hope that we might change the world or at least our little bit of it.

Nearly 20 years later and we are embarking on a new venture aimed at broadening and deepening the opportunities for postgraduate education within the profession.

Operating as a not for profit community interest company (CIC), we will be working in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College to make our veterinary primary care modules of the CertAVP available to a wider audience in a more flexible way.

The work has paved the way for a greater appreciation of what and how practising vets need to learn and together with the RVC’s commitment to developing self-directed learning we will be able to build an offering of both supported and assessment-only routes to the CertAVP in subjects highly relevant to those in general practice.

The story so far has been long and at times hard, but here are a few vignettes to illustrate the path:

Ancient History

It is true that, generally, things change slowly and it is about 50 years ago when the concepts of self-directed learning (SDL), experiential learning and reflective practice really started gaining prominence. There then ensued a battle of some 30 years as we traversed the three truths of Schopenhauer (though many would suggest we still have a way to go) to gain greater acceptance of the concepts.

Within the veterinary profession these changes have really transpired mainly in the last 20 years and the concepts are now enshrined for the future within the detail of the RCVS Vet Futures Project.


Recognising the need for change, the RCVS initiated a research project that was to be central to the development of the CertAVP.

The SPVS was central to making it happen by working with the RCVS and Professor David Lane of the Professional Foundation to bring together and support a group of eight very experienced GP vets to conduct the research.

The research was conducted between 2000 and 2003 and was then presented to the RCVS at a special presentation at Belgravia House on 2nd October 2003. Following further discussions, the CertAVP was officially launched in 2006.

Vet Learning Ltd

Having identified the needs and developed the qualification, it became clear that there was no single provider capable of providing the new approaches within veterinary postgraduate learning at that time.

Five of the original eight vets, the Professional Development Foundation and Middlesex University agreed to work together to provide an evidence-based approach to the CertAVP based on self-directed learning, experiential learning and reflective practice.

Thus was born Vet Learning Ltd. Its purposes were to:

  • Provide courses with the advanced levels of support to enable the new ways of learning.
  • Gain recognition of the unique skills of the GP vet.
  • Demonstrate that such a provider could survive commercially

Course provision

Vet Learning Ltd grew to become a provider of postgraduate CPD at CertAVP, MSc and Doctorate level. The focus of the company was not simply on the acquisition of knowledge but also the development in the individual of enhanced skills in learning to improve personal and practice learning and development for future benefit.

Central to the strategy was the provision of high levels of learning support to individuals and the encouragement of collaborative learning whenever and wherever possible.

GP recognition

Vet Learning Ltd was instrumental in facilitating the development of the CertAVP(VetGP), the first qualification accredited by the RCVS that recognised the distinctive skills of the veterinary general practitioner, something the medical profession had done some 60 years previously.

In addition to the CertAVP(VetGP), Vet Learning Ltd developed an MSc(VetGP) and a PhD(DProf) for more experienced members of the profession, providing a genuine lifelong ladder of development. As the changes at the RCVS progressed towards the development of Advanced Practitioner status, Vet Learning developed six C-Modules to support the new advanced primary care certificate, the CertAVP(VPC).


Vet Learning Ltd has now survived for 10 years, demonstrating the viability of the model. Providing courses with such a high level of candidate support is expensive and Vet Learning Ltd was something of a niche provider for those who appreciated the level of support provided.

Vet Learning Organisation CIC

With the developments relating to AP status, the CertAVP(VPC) and the Vet Futures Project, we would like to make our modules more accessible. This is now being helped as a new generation of graduates emerge from university with an understanding of the skills involved.

We will continue to offer a high level of candidate support where wanted but, by working with the RVC, we are also able to offer minimal and low levels of support to those candidates who are happy to work in this way.

Rather than taking a fixed fully-inclusive package, candidates can tailor their learning/support to suit their individual needs and preferences.

None of those involved in Vet Learning ever intended to become commercial CPD providers and to reflect this Vet Learning Organisation is a not for profit community interest company (CIC) working in collaboration with the RVC for the benefit of the profession. In the event there are any funds left over, these will be donated to RCVS Knowledge.

The future

Veterinary CPD faces a significant period of change in the coming years. Working with the RVC and others, Vet Learning Organisation CIC looks forward to the future with optimism.

Vet Learning’s six C-Modules are there for those who want to change the way they practice for the better and to support a new generation of Advanced Practitioners.

To ask questions about the CertAVP, please e-mail the CertAVP manager via or telephone 01707 666201.

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