Vetpol is celebrating the qualification of the first SQP candidate to graduate as a result of studying and sitting its examination totally online.
Vetpol was appointed as an independent regulator of SQPs earlier this year and believes it is the first company in the UK to provide SQP training and exams in an entirely digital format.
SQPs can operate from many different types of retail outlets including pet shops, saddlers, farm suppliers and online pharmacies. For retail premises, having an SQP on site means that they are able to recommend a wider range of animal medicines to customers, helping to increase trade.
For many people, the flexibility of this online learning has been a blessing during the unprecedented challenges of this year, Vetpol says, and with Reece Goldsmith’s successful qualification the company is looking ahead to a busy future.
Vetpol’s Level 4 SQP qualification, which was developed in conjunction with LANTRA and is regulated by Ofqual, enables those qualifying to dispense VPS medicines. People who gain this qualification are equipped to make appropriate recommendations and must always be aware when to refer to a vet.
There are four modules of the course – companion animal, equine, farm and avian – and trailblazing SQP Reece Goldsmith passed exams in all four.
Reece, who is based at Shire Stables, in Oxfordshire, said: “It’s a great course in a very easy to understand and read format. I enjoyed the easy access to the course materials and being able to log in and see my progress.”
A major reason why he chose the course was the online learning.
“In all honesty, if the course wasn’t online I most likely wouldn’t have done my SQP training,” he said. “I run a livery yard and a worm counting postal service, so I just wouldn’t have had the time to go off and do study weeks and take more time off to do the exams.”
Vetpol originally chose to provide digital training for convenience in the busy modern world, aiming to help people study whenever and wherever was practical for them. However, given the upheaval caused by the covid-19 pandemic, online learning has been much more useful than anticipated.
“Covid-19 has changed our lives in so many ways, including disrupting a lot of face-to-face teaching,” said Caroline Johnson, director of Vetpol. “Our fully online course will allow people to still gain the qualifications they need during these difficult times.
“Our awarding body, LANTRA, offers online proctored exams, which mean they’re invigilated remotely. This means that people don’t even need to travel for exams, which can be stressful enough, even without the added disturbance of a pandemic.”
Both students and qualified SQPs can make use of the Vetpol online support forum, which is run by experienced trainers, SQPs and animal health professionals.