UCD is the only institution in Ireland that provides the Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (MVB), and as the degree is registered with the Veterinary Council of Ireland, graduates can work as vets immediately on receiving the award. Most graduates take the opportunity to go into practice for a few years, acquiring vital experience in a real world environment, before returning to UCD in order to further their education/training. At this stage, graduates may choose between one of two options: a residency programme or further study in the form of a Masters in Veterinary Medicine (MVM) or PhD.
Applicants for a residency position must hold a veterinary qualification registrable with the Veterinary Council of Ireland (such as the MVB) and have either successfully completed an internship or several years of clinical practice. UCD’s Veterinary Hospital provides formal training in various disciplines that are designed to fulfil the training requirements and eligibility for the European College Diploma Certifying Examinations. These disciplines include: small animal internal medicine, small animal surgery, veterinary reproduction, large animal surgery, large animal medicine, herd health, diagnostic imaging, veterinary anaesthesia, veterinary morphological pathology, veterinary clinical pathology and veterinary parasitology.
At the moment residents are not formally registered as postgraduate students in UCD – however, there are discussions currently under way to change this, and it is hoped that the situation will be clarified sometime in 2008.
Residency programmes are three years in length, and although variations exist, they all share certain features:
• Supervision by a European Diplomate of each discipline with formal meetings every 6 to 12 months
• Structured programme divided into clinical work and research/study, with obligatory training in different centres and conference attendance as outlined by individual programmes
• Mandatory attendance and participation in training seminars and ward rounds
• Specialised training in certain disciplines
• Presentations of both CPD (continuing professional development) and original scientific research at national and international conferences
• Publication of peer reviewed scientific articles (usually two: one as author and other as co-author)
• Submission of case log, activity log and publications prior to acceptance for formal examination
• Establishing a research project in a relevant topic
Applicants for the Master of Veterinary Medicine (MVM) are also obliged to hold a qualification that is recognised by the Veterinary Council of Ireland. The MVM involves carrying out research for a minimum period of one year and no longer than three years.
Veterinary clinical science research in UCD focuses on enhancing animal health, welfare and performance. Through clinical research, it aims to understand the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease at both the individual animal and herd level. With its state-of-the-art facilities and its unique status as a referral hospital, the University Veterinary Hospital provides an important resource for this research.
The main areas of research include:
• Development of new population medicine approaches to control animal diseases
• Development of strategies for detection, prevention, control and therapeutic intervention for diseases of national and zoonotic importance
• Development of innovative herd health programmes
• Improvement of health and welfare of companion animals
Details of funded research projects in the veterinary clinical science research area are posted on the school web site under the research opportunities section. Projects listed are updated as funding becomes available.
Alternatively, if a student has access to their own funding and wishes to apply to the MVM they would firstly need to make informal contact with a potential supervisor for their research. Details of staff profiles are available on the school website.
Veterinary graduates can also apply for direct entry to a PhD degree – there is no requisite for an applicant to firstly attain an MVM. However, the applicant must hold a minimum of a 2.1 honours undergraduate degree to be eligible for direct entry to a PhD degree. UCD runs ‘structured’ PhD programmes where, in addition to completing a comprehensive original research project, students can also attend taught modules for improving the personal knowledge and transferable skills that are required in the workplace.
At the time of writing the UCD Veterinary School are in the process of applying for accreditation from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), with the results of the application to be announced in March 2008. Many vet schools outside the US seek this globally recognised accreditation as it allows employers in the US to compare graduates with their American counterparts, and it will also facilitate educational opportunities for UCD students in the US.
One institution that currently boasts AVMA accreditation is the Royal Veterinary College in London. The RVC (www.rvc.ac.uk) is the oldest vet school in the UK and has a strong tradition of welcoming international students; and in the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, is associated with the largest veterinary training hospital in Europe.
A variety of masters opportunities on offer in the RVC include programmes such as an MSc in Wild Animal Health and MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases. PhD students are currently involved in research in the following areas: musculoskeletal biology; reproduction, genes and development; cardiovascular and inflammation biology; and infection and immunity. The RVC offers student scholarships for both one-year internships and three-year residencies. For those practising vets who are unable to overcome the practicalities of interrupting their career in order to return to full time training, the RVC also provides two masters programmes (MSc in Livestock Health and Production and MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health) and a series of CPD short courses through the medium of distance learning.
The veterinary career offers many opportunities for career development and specialisation through postgraduate training and CPD at home and abroad, so it is well worthwhile investigating all the options before committing to a programme.