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I have recently completed the GP Certificate in endoscopy and endosurgery. I studied for this with Improve International attending 2 day courses at regular intervals throughout an 18 month period. I thoroughly enjoyed the course in particular the practical aspects. The group size was such that access to practical material was great and a valuable part of the course. All the tutors were knowledgeable and made the course extremely relevant to first opinion practice often referring to case examples to illustrate principles. The facilities at Improve are fantastic and the support team were very helpful ensuring the administrative side of things ran smoothly.
The course excellently prepared me to gain the GP Certificate qualification giving my clients confidence that a structured programme had been followed.
I have developed an understanding of the available endoscopic procedures possible with the equipment we already owned. This has directly impacted on my patients and clients as I utilise these skills on a weekly basis with the confidence gained during the practical sessions. I can’t recommend the course or Improve highly enough.Amy Blackwell
Andreas Manousoudakis DVM is a First Lieutenant in the Hellenic Air Force, where part of his role is to care for military working dogs. He also works part-time in veterinary clinics in Greece. He travelled regularly from his home to study for our PgC in Small Animal Surgery between 2015 and 2017. Here’s his story.
I wanted to embark on further study in order to offer a higher standard of care to my patients but, in Greece, I could only complete a postgraduate qualification by studying full-time at one of only two veterinary schools in the country. This would have required me both to leave my job and to move house! Having done some research and spoken to past delegates, I decided instead to study for a two-year Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) in Small Animal Surgery with Improve International.
I spent the first three months trying to find a balance between my monthly visits to the UK to attend the programme sessions, studying, working and having a personal life. It wasn’t easy but I received great support from my tutors and mentors. For instance, as English is not my first language, they sourced textbooks to help me to get up to speed with English veterinary terminology.
Once I’d settled into a routine, I relished the new knowledge I was absorbing, as well as the practical surgery skills I was learning. The tutors were excellent and worked hard to provide a balance between the theory in lectures and developing our practical skills in the excellent practical sessions. By the end of every module, I was confident and felt that my knowledge had increased. Improve’s online virtual learning environment, Moodle, was very useful because of the range of tools it offers to support the learning process. I used it to discuss topics with my fellow delegates and tutors; to receive feedback on case reports and to stay up to date with reading resources and advice from tutors.
There’s no doubt that the programme is challenging, especially when you are working full-time, but I planned my time carefully and my colleagues and family were supportive. By the end of the second year, I could feel much greater fluency in my surgery and my confidence and knowledge had both increased significantly. In practice, I was undertaking surgical cases which would previously have been assigned to another colleague or referred and I was able to provide support to my team and share my knowledge with colleagues.
Many of the new techniques I have learned have enabled me to increase the standard of care I offer. As an example, we see many wounds with dehiscence a common complication. Until recently, we left many of these to heal by second intention but, now that I am familiar with techniques for wound closure, especially flaps and skin grafting techniques, I can deal with cases that, prior to the programme, had seemed untreatable. Techniques I have learned for gastropexy and spleen surgery techniques have been also helpful as they have reduced my surgery time and made me more confident in treating dogs with Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV).
Overall, the programme exceeded my expectations. It has certainly improved the care I provide to my patients but it has also helped my practices to become more profitable because we are now undertaking many more surgical cases. We are also managing our medical supplies more cost-effectively, reducing the time our patients need to be hospitalised and increasing client satisfaction.
I thoroughly recommend this programme and would advise any colleague thinking of starting the programme to go for it. It is a great opportunity to continue your journey in veterinary medicine. Personally, I am very keen to continue my studies so will shortly be undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma programme in Emergency and Critical Care with Improve.
Due to the tuition I have received at Improve, my clients are benefiting from not having to be referred elsewhere as I am able to do the surgeries in-house. I have learnt a lot of new techniques, increased my knowledge and skills and been able to pass these on to others in my practice.Ben Gamsa
BVM&S GPCert(SAS) MRCVS
Standing out in the crowd – how my journey to Advanced Practitioner Status opened up new opportunities and instilled a passion for career development
Dr. Magdalena (Maggie) Doherty qualified from the Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Poland in 2003. Moving to the UK (and having learned English), she worked in small animal practice for ten years before deciding that she wanted to work towards RCVS Advanced Practitioner status. “I felt it was time to set out a structured plan to achieve this qualification as clear recognition of the skills and attributes that a veterinary surgeon has developed during their career,” she explains.
As she was, by this stage, running two clinics, working as a Zumba instructor, and had three young children, she enrolled with global veterinary CPD specialist Improve International to undertake its General Practitioner Certificate (GPCert) and Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) in Small Animal Medicine. “I felt that the modular training structure it offered would be a good fit with my workload and the content linked very well to my daily experience in practice,” she says. “The mix of training methods was another attraction as it seemed to support all styles of learning.”
Having finished the programme and the additional assessments required to complete the PgC, Maggie was supported by her dedicated Programme Tutor in preparing for her exams, which were set by Improve International’s assessment partners, the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ISVPS), with Harper Adams University, which provides the higher education body quality assurance. She passed!
“I was over the moon when I heard I had successfully completed the course and gained all of the qualifications necessary to apply for Advanced Practitioner status.”
To achieve Advanced Practitioner status, as well as the additional qualifications, individuals are also required to demonstrate a commitment to CPD, that is over and above the minimum threshold. Support and recommendations from veterinary colleagues and peers also add weight to an application. Maggie passed on her first attempt and was admitted to the Advanced Practitioner register in March 2021.
“Achieving Advanced Practitioner status is definitely a marathon, not a sprint,” she says. “It took me five years in all and, at times, it was grueling and a very hard slog. But I kept going and I know that the journey has significantly enhanced my skills and knowledge.
“And, once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, I’d enrolled for my second Postgraduate Certificate programme with Improve International – this time the topic was Emergency and Critical Care!”
She adds: “There are 30,000 veterinary surgeons in the UK and fewer than 1,000 of them are Advanced Practitioners. I feel that this status is a confirmation of my commitment to being the best I can be to both colleagues and clients.
“Becoming an Advanced Practitioner has also opened up new opportunities – in fact, I will be joining a new multi-centre veterinary practice shortly – and it has introduced me to some great new friends and colleagues. It’s a tough journey and it may not be for everyone but I thoroughly recommend it.”
Dr Magdalena Doherty
DVM MRCVS PgC GP CERT (SAM) Advanced Practitioner
I thoroughly enjoyed the course and the practical skills of the day. The course was very helpful with my job and found it to be the best so far. The practical side of this course was brilliant and I found this really helped my skills.Ellie Parry
The teaching at Improve is excellent and I have been able to take what I have learnt back to use in practice. It’s not just the lectures themselves but the practical work we did straight afterwards which drives home everything, which is why Improve’s modular programmes are so great. The difference it’s made in the practice has been huge, I’m more confident with clients and able to take on more complex cases.Garrick Ponte
BVSc GPCert(SAM) MRCVS
The course was fantastic, the speakers were great, full of knowledge and used a variety of teaching and learning aids. I have developed new skills, techniques and become more confident in taking these back to use in practice straight away, thus helping with patient anaesthesia and pain relief.Georgina Little
I decided to study for Improve International’s PgC in Feline Medicine in order to increase my knowledge base and to build my confidence in dealing with feline cases. I really enjoyed the taught modules and, while the written work, including the personal reflection, was a challenge, the content was a huge eye-opener in terms of personal development. The lecturers were engaging and enthusiastic and this ensured plenty of group discussion to aid the learning process during the modules. I have already noticed a vast improvement in my clinical confidence and abilities and now am even more driven to continue learning. The PgC has enabled me to enhance the level of care I provide to my patients and those of my colleagues. It has also instilled in me a more empathetic approach to feline patients in general within the practice.Jennifer Sinclair , Assistant Veterinary Surgeon, Companion Care Vets
BVetMed PgC in Feline Veterinary Studies MRCVS
I was looking for a reputable accredited course which could aid my career and personal development. Every part of the course has been informative and enjoyable with excellent teaching staff, clearly passionate about their subject. I looked forward to attending every module and feel I have learnt so much.Keeley Jonas
BSc(Hons) RVN CertEd
The theory backed up by the amazing practical sessions really consolidate your knowledge base, read the notes, the textbook, watch the DVD and go ahead and book in the perineal hernia repair or the salivary gland removal instead of referring it on to someone else’s practice. I now eagerly anticipate the next surgery case walking through that consulting room door.Marni Miller
BVetMed GPCert(SAS) MRCVS
Raymond Fitzpatrick is a self-employed locum studying for our PgC in Small Animal Surgery (SAS) between 2018 and 2020. He shares his experience so far:
Embarking on Improve’s two-year Small Animal Surgery programme was my second attempt at earning a PgC in surgery. I’d previously enrolled on a one-year programme with another provider but, unfortunately, it didn’t deliver what I was hoping for, especially as it was mostly self-study. I also found the lack of learning support frustrating. I knew that I wanted to spend more time working face to face with my lecturers and fellow delegates as part of my learning and I viewed a high level of support both during and after each module as essential. As a result, I switched to Improve’s two-year Small Animal Surgery PgC programme in 2018 and I’m already nearly halfway through. The experience could not be more different.
While all aspects of Improve’s programme are excellent, I’ve been particularly impressed with the company’s practical facilities, as well as the quality of the teaching. The level of support given to delegates is also exceptional – every detail, from the content of the lecture notes to the accessibility of the lecturers and the Programme Tutor, has been thought through and the result is that I feel supported every step of the way. I’ve even found that I’m reading less but still retaining much more information.
Overall, I think that Improve’s programme is excellent value. In my case, it’s already paid for itself as I’m learning new skills, including less fearful of thorax conditions. It’s proving to be a fantastic learning experience on all counts and I’m recommending it enthusiastically to all of my colleagues. The best decision I ever made!Raymond Fitzpatrick
I chose Improve International as my exotics CPD provider because I wanted a comprehensive course which would provide an up to date overview of the common subjects in every day exotic practice and at the same time stretch my knowledge into species which are not frequently seen in practice. I also wanted a course which provided a recognised qualification in return for reasonable academic effort.
The lecturers were first class in their knowledge and relaxed in their pace, always with plenty of time to address questions from the class.Rob McNulty
I chose Improve International as they are an established company, they’ve got a good reputation and I have done a number of courses with them previously and had access to top qualified speakers.Robyn Farquhar
BVSc GPCert(SAM) MRCVS
The course has allowed me to help clients with their problem animals and spread my new knowledge to others in my practice.Zoe Hockley