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Internationally standardised equine therapy

The college consists of five full-time professional lecturers as well as external nationally and internationally renowned lecturers.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) has confirmed the need to regulate therapy on all animals, not only equines. There are a large number of unregulated practitioners working in the field of animal rehabilitation therapy, and the disparity in training has led to huge differences in the range of skills, ability and knowledge of practitioners. There are various short courses presented as post-graduate courses for medical physiotherapists, and other short courses for anybody interested and willing to complete them. Therefore, there is currently a move to register veterinary physiotherapy as a para-veterinary profession with the SAVC. The promulgation was gazetted for public comment on 2 December 2016 and the final documents need to be signed by the Minister of Agriculture.

Equine-Librium College

The development of the Veterinary Physiotherapy course at Equine-Librium College is a parallel process that is fully transparent and on register with the SAVC. Ronel van der Sijde founded the Equine-Librium group in 2007 in Plettenberg Bay, the Garden Route, South Africa. Equine-Librium College Pty (Ltd) is the first institution in the world to offer a four-year full-time course directly in the field of veterinary physiotherapy. Professor Sybrand van den Berg is the principal and Marinette Teeling is the vice-principal. Ronel van der Sijde operates as the CEO.

The college consists of five full-time professional lecturers within the fields of veterinary and physiotherapy subjects, with an additional team of external nationally and internationally renowned lecturers.

An overview

The minimum entry requirement for the course is a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or the National Certificate (Vocational) (NCV) with mathematics and physical sciences (science), with life sciences as optional but preferable.

Students who study at Equine-Librium College will find that each year of study is another step on their way to self-actualisation. Studies at Equine-Librium extend far beyond pure academics. Students take part in various activities such as organised events and student socials, equine sport events, canine shows and agility competitions, and practical internships. Opportunities are provided to accompany and observe cases seen by therapists and veterinary professionals in the therapy clinics, as well as to perform numerous dissections on fresh cadavers. The many facilities at the college include an auditorium (specifically designed to accommodate demonstrations on a live horse), other fully equipped classrooms, a comprehensive and ever-growing library, campus-wide Wi-Fi access to the internet, and a multitude of live animals for practical classes and experience daily.

The curriculum

Classrooms are fully equipped for all students’ needs

The curriculum emphasises an integrated and holistic approach to the physical treatment of animals who show poor performance, are at risk, disabled or injured (including surgical cases). The curriculum is designed to cover the full ‘scope of practice’ (approved by SAVC). This training will enable learners to apply learning strategies that address their professional and ongoing lifelong learning needs in a self-critical manner, work independently, operate at a high cognitive level, and solve complex real-world problems and issues using evidence-based solutions and theory-driven arguments. Completion of the intensive four-year training enables the student to effectively practice the full ‘day one skills’ for the veterinary physiotherapist (as approved by SAVC).

To succeed, students require the integration of theory and practice that will enable learners to address ethical issues based on critical reflection, and to use a range of skills to address complex problems to assist animals who suffer from neuro-musculoskeletal and/or cardiovascular dysfunction.

On completion of this course, it is anticipated that the learner will be registered with the SAVC as a veterinary physiotherapist who is able to work at clinics, animal hospitals and rehabilitation centres, and may open a veterinary physiotherapy practice within the structures regulated by the SAVC.

Being part of something bigger

Every student is trained to be an active part of the veterinary health team. Equine-Librium College is actively involved in new research on various aspects of veterinary therapy. Four of these research projects have been presented internationally and others published in veterinary journals. With the ongoing support of Onderstepoort and Professor Anne Carstens, our research is going from strength to strength!

The full article appears in the The Winter Guide issue of HQ (July 124) > Shop now