As would be expected, to practice as a veterinary surgeon, or veterinary nurse, practitioners must be registered with The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). RCVS registrants adhere to a code of conduct that ensures only those who are qualified to do so can practice on animals, which in turn ensures the animal’s wellbeing, and maintains high levels of practice standards within the veterinary industry.
However, the same code and regulation currently does not extend to other animal health treatments such as animal physiotherapy and massage. An increase in higher education and online learning providers offering courses in animal massage and animal physiotherapy has led to more people working as therapists. Whilst some of the courses that can be undertaken have been validated or accredited, many are not, and paraprofessionals in this area work on animals without any formal regulation.
Reviewing veterinary practices
In 2020, after consultation with industry stakeholders, the RCVS published a report recommending changes that would bring tighter controls in to the sector, suggesting the establishment of a therapists’ register to maintain high standards of professionalism across all animal practitioners and a ‘fitness to practice’ regime.
In anticipation of the changes which will flow from this consultation, as the Veterinary Act is updated, the Animal Health Professions’ Register was established as an organisation which quality assures education in the animal health sphere, accrediting courses which deliver a suitable level of training.
Registrants must hold a formally recognised, accredited qualification, which gives the public and veterinary surgeons confidence that they have attained a stated level of independently assessed training, and are competent practitioners. The AHPR also ensures that their registrants stay current through CPD.
The AHPR recognise that there are different areas of expertise – such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage and hydrotherapy – and consider that practitioners in any of these spheres should be eligible for registration if their training has been at a suitable level. However, there are training courses available which do not meet the AHPR minimum standards.
The AHPR matters because it is becoming more and more important, in order to be ready for future changes in industry regulation, that if you wish to work as a veterinary physiotherapist or an animal massage therapist, you gain a qualification that will be recognised by a voluntary register such as AHPR.
Getting the right qualification
The AHPR website lists a range of accredited courses and qualifications covering a range of animal therapies. Gaining any of these AHPR accredited qualifications would entitle a therapist to join the register and be able to practice.
If you are looking for a course in Equine Sports Massage then Animal Therapy Solutions are the only provider offering an independent, externally assessed, RQF-listed qualification which results in an OFQUAL Regulated Level 4 Diploma. This long-established course is widely recognised and respected by animal health professionals.
Read more about the Level 4 diploma in Equine Sports Massage
Find out more about The Animal Health Profession’s Register