How can we maintain professional standards of vet physio when “bums on college seats” seems to be taking over?

I harbour grave concerns regarding the undergraduate training of veterinary physiotherapists.  Those of you who know me and/or have trained with me will know that I am passionate about animal welfare and the high quality practical and scientific training that must be given to trainee Vet Physios if animal welfare is to be maintained.  I have worked long and hard to ensure that the profession of veterinary physiotherapy will be recognised as a highly skilled adjunct to the treatment of injured animals and athletic conditioning of animals used in sport.  Just when I think we are on the brink of convincing the wider veterinary profession that skilled physiotherapy is paramount for a good prognosis, I feel that the training of veterinary physiotherapists is being unacceptably diluted to the extent that it will put the profession back years.

Over 6 months ago I terminated my involvement with an animal college in the provision of a BSc in vet physio.  I did so because I was told that there was no way that they would teach what I feel is the vital part of any vet physio course, anatomy, to the level and depth that I required, and I was told that “veterinary physiotherapists do not need to know anatomy, they only need to know the points of the horse or dog”!!  So horrified was I about the complete lack of interest in quality tuition and high-level content, I had hoped that removal of my support would be an end of it.    However, I was very concerned to be told that another veterinary physiotherapy association has decided to back this course.  One can only shudder at the quality of the so called “veterinary physiotherapists” that will graduate from this and other courses.   I also understand that a number of other colleges are planning vet physio degrees.  The lure of “bums on seats for £9000 per year” would appear to override the profession’s need for highly skilled physios to build on what I and a number of other vet physios have struggled for years to achieve.  What will be the standard of these graduates’ skill and professionalism?  With dozens of these poorly trained graduates flooding onto the market every year, how are we to maintain standards of animal welfare?  Hashing up a Vet Nurse degree to superficially look like a vet physio degree will not cut it in my professional opinion.  Down that path lies grave danger.

I know that many students and potential students of vet physio read my blog, and contact me by email asking for my opinion of certain “courses”.  Safe to say that I tell them exactly what my opinion is.  I would be happy to publish on this blog the views of others who may have a different opinion.


  1. Gail Williams says:

    Thanks to all who have sent me private messages or commented on my personal FB page. Judging from some of your experiences I understand why you don’t want to post them publically

  2. Hello Gail!
    I just wanted to thank you for your amazing books on equine welfare. I haven’t been able to put the Functional Anatomy down since it arrived.
    I am a full time equine bodyworker that works on 80-100 horses a month, and see so many phantom equine lameness issues that are not being solved and/or helped by veterinarians. I just recently worked on a horse that was said to have “behavior issues” by THREE vets because it acted up in its flying changes. (After close to $5000 was spent on diagnostic work) They have such limited knowledge on the functional muscular anatomy of horses.
    It is very frustrating. It’s turns out, as I suspected, that the deep gluteal muscle was tight and had muscle spasms that were pressing on the sciatic nerve during certain phases of work. After two sessions of bodywork using a variety of modalities the horse is now fine and back to training at PSG.
    Why isn’t common sense problems such as this being taught in vet school?
    I am also extremely troubled by the huge wave of inexperienced and uneducated pulsed magnetic wave practitioners. I have known of several horses that have gone lame after the use of such machines, largely due to the practitioners lack of knowledge of equine functional anatomy. (They only have to have a short weekend course to be certified to become an equine health professional) I have found that these machines are masking pain and causing horses to stop guarding injured areas due to the large emount of endorphins realeased from these machines. One such horse that had ring bone and tendon issues stopped “guarding” and ended up tearing BOTH suspensions at the same time in its front legs! So my question is, why are there no regulations for educational requirements in place in whom can, and can’t, be charging for equine bodywork,physio,rehabilitation?
    Also, how to best stay true and ethical to my clients, and yet not throw the vets and farriers under the proverbial bus? I believe in everyone working together and that it takes a village to keep horses sound and happy.

    Again, thank you for having the courage to publish such well thought out and informative books. Do you offer clinics or still teach?

    Thank you and have a blessed day!

    All my best,
    Christy DIcolla

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