Work-based learning: a step up the ladder for the profession - Veterinary Practice
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Work-based learning: a step up the ladder for the profession

CHRIS WHIPP reports on the introduction of higher qualifications for experienced veterinary surgeons and a new range of services to make the most of work-based learning

IN 2007 a new specialised CPD provider was formed to serve the profession.

Vet Learning Ltd (VL) was formed by GP vets for GP vets and consisted of a partnership between:

  • five very experienced GP vets who had been heavily involved in researching the new RCVS CertAVP qualification;
  • the Professional Development Foundation (PDF) that has been championing work-based learning for more than 30 years; and
  • the Institute of Work-based Learning (IWBL) at Middlesex University, a European Centre of Excellence in work-based learning.

With its partners, Vet Learning has now spent six years successfully providing both the CertAVP, its associated modules and the CertAVP (VetGP), the only designated certificate accredited by the RCVS which recognises the unique skills of the GP vet.

On 30th April 2013, in conjunction with MU, VL and PDF completed an intensive six-month revalidation process with a number of strong commendations. Vet Learning also took the opportunity afforded by the revalidation process to critically review, develop and expand its offering to the profession as detailed below.

What is work-based learning (WBL)

There is a traditional view within education that knowledge is the product of learning and that the more knowledge an individual has, the greater the assumed competence. Progressively from the 1980s, this has become less sustainable as knowledge expansion, complexity and uncertainty conspire to subvert the status quo.

Educationalist Peter Honey has said “The end point of learning is action, not knowledge,” and this is ably demonstrated by the challenges faced by our young colleagues who graduate with significantly greater knowledge than years ago yet seem, often, to struggle more with its application.

Work-based learning takes the learning out of the classroom, the lecture hall or the hotel and places it in the real world of where we practice every day bringing benefits such as:

  • control – you remain in control of the process, you pass, you get a distinction, you fail, your choice;
  • individualised – you match the learning to what is important to you;
  • relevant – automatically relevant to whatever you do day to day;
  • saves/expands time – rather attending maybe a course twice a year you can learn 24/7 at your convenience;
  • builds real capabilities to improve and develop how you practice. n develops expertise in real time where it is used.


Vet Learning Ltd was formed to:

  • gain recognition for and develop the unique skills of the GP vet;
  • provide the opportunity for workbased learning to the profession;
  • offer support to those with similar aims;
  • provide courses and services that address these aims.

Ladder of life-long learning

More now than ever before there is a need to continue to learn throughout one’s career, to review, renew, develop and grow as the years progress.

In 2007 and in association with their academic partners, Vet Learning introduced courses that recognised practitioners’ experience and knowledge at Certificate and Masters level with the CertAVP, CertAVP (VetGP) and MSc (VetGP).

Now, in 2013, Vet Learning is adding two higher qualifications for experienced vets and a range of services designed to make the most of workbased learning within the business environment without the associated academic requirements.

This brings effective academic and non-academic CPD to the practising arm of the profession, challenging and beneficial irrespective of the age/experience of the practitioner.

The academic ladder is represented in Figure 1 and consists of:

  • CertAVP modules Designed for practitioners interested in a particular subject such as clinical audit, governance, consultation skills or clinical coaching and mentoring.
  • CertAVP A flexible broad-based qualification with a variety of modules available from multiple providers.
  • CertAVP(VetGP) A designated certificate designed for and recognising the GP vet.
  • MSc(VetGP) A Master’s degree designed for the experienced GP Vet interested in conducting research whilst in practice.
  • Structured PhD Similar in part to a traditional PhD but can be completed from within practice, suitable for more experienced vets.
  • DProf A doctorate of professional studies suitable for very experienced vets interested in conducting a substantial piece of research.

Non-academic progression is more flexible and involves a range of services and methodologies (Figure 2). Of particular note, groups with specific needs (such as new and overseas graduates) receive special provision and services are appropriate to practices of all sizes and types.

For three years now the BEVME (Best Evidence Veterinary Medical Education) group has been developing as a Community of Practice (COP) informing and supporting a membership of almost 2,500 veterinary surgeons interested in improving the quality of their veterinary education and CPD.

With effect from 1st July 2013, Vet Learning Ltd will be providing sponsorship to this group to support and develop their work further.

Work-based learning offers a step up the ladder of life-long learning for the profession.

To join us, or just to find out more, e-mail

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