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SPVS Masters Group presents findings

11 October 2003

eir questionnaire published in the Veterinary Times last year, as well as conducting interviews with practitioners.

As well as undertaking individual research projects, the Group worked together to draw conclusions on how their findings should be carried forward. Their research clearly showed that the concept of a modular postgraduate qualification for general practitioners was both desirable and wanted by the majority of the profession. This supports the work currently being carried out by the RCVS working party looking into the modularisation of RCVS Certificates. They recommended that the new qualification should be designed to be compatible with the credit-based systems available in the higher education sector to ensure 'portability' of credits and encourage further study.

Their research pointed to the need for basic management and consultation skills to be included in the qualification. Although these topics were already included to some extent in the undergraduate degree, they needed to be further developed at postgraduate level if practitioners were to be prepared to cope with the changing nature of the profession and clients' expectations. Bradley Viner's research looked at the relevance of clinical audit in general practice, whilst Graham Duncanson's work highlighted the role of in-practice research. It was recommended that competences in both these areas should be included in the new qualification to encourage continuous quality improvements in practice.

The group recommended that the RCVS should allow for a variety of different learning techniques and appraisal methods to meet the differing educational styles of practitioners. Formal written examinations had received little support from their survey as a means of assessing the competence of experienced professionals. Portfolios of evidence, which could comprise case reports and studies, were recommended as a practicable approach to assessment that is becoming increasingly accepted in other professions. Whilst recommending that the qualification should be available on a flexible, modular basis, in line with RCVS recommendations to allow choice between modules, it was recommended that there should also be a final assessment before the practitioner was awarded the full qualification, to comprise a formal presentation and discussion with a panel.

In the meantime, the RCVS modularisation working party expects to present its recommendations to the Specialisation and Further Education Committee early in 2004. As there has been regular liaison between the Group and RCVS, most of the former's recommendations have already been taken on board.

The SPVS Masters Group MSc dissertations will be held in the RCVS Library, and a copy of their general recommendations are available to download below. For further information, please contact Freda Andrews, Head of Education, at


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