by Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost, DO Zoo Ost Ltd
One of the best kept secrets within the osteopathic profession is the fact that we have a very well established Masters programme in Animal Osteopathy. Despite it being around for 12 years, and steadily producing excellent graduates, it is still the Cinderella of courses.
A myth persists that it isn’t really an osteopathic course. I use the word “myth” carefully, but it is a myth all the same. I can only think that some of my profession is mislead by the fact that we run the course alongside the McTimoney Animal Masters one. We also send our students into the very same anatomy, neurology, physiology, and bio-mechanics lectures. Now I’m pretty sure all of these subjects are the same whether you’re an osteopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, or vet. All osteopathic content is taught by the BPP University approved clinicians, of which I am the Clinical Director, with the day-to-day running of the course administered by the McTimoney College staff. As Clinical Director that’s how I know the course really does exist! My team teaches all practical lectures, and covers all practical examinations. All of my faculty are GOsC registered and all have a minimum of 12 years experience treating animals, with most around 30 years. They all carry the necessary insurances, and attend regular CPD updates.
The course syllabus
The course is currently a two year part time one. Students are advised to be able to set aside roughly the equivalent of a day’s study/practical a week over this period. Theory based lecturing is undertaken within the beautiful surroundings of Warwickshire College’s Moreton Morrell campus, which is able to provide superb facilities for both academic and practical purposes.
During the first year students are taught anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology, neurology, bio-dynamics and bio-mechanics, osteopathic observation, and osteopathic palpation. During this period they also put together their dissertation proposal for university approval. In the second year they build upon their practical skills, perform any research needed for their dissertation, and create the finished article, attend specific tutor clinics, complete various written assignments, before sitting their final exams in theory and practical, the latter organized by the osteopathic team.
Not only does combining aspects of this course generate economies of scale, it also creates a much more open inter professional medium for both professions, and has led to the breaking down of many of the old fashioned barriers that used to exist between allied professions.
For this reason I think this model, as a teaching method alone deserves more notice, and recognition, as it has done a lot to propel all animal based manual therapies forward in the eyes of the veterinary profession, as well as increasing inter-professional communication and clinical assistance.
There is a lot of political maneuvering at the moment, and it would be so sad to recreate the barriers and perceived class system that existed back in the early 1990s.
What I love, from a teaching perspective, is the interaction both tutors and students have with the McTimoney side. This spills out into clinical life, with many lifelong friends made. It’s great to know that if any of us get stuck with a client that there are other colleagues who we know, and respect, that can be called upon. With the best will and intentions in the world, none of us have all the answers, and none of us can “fix” everything. Even down to personality clashes with the occasional animal, it pays to have an open book of fellow practitioners to refer to.
With this parallel approach to the McTimoney and Osteopathic Masters programme we have found a sustained continuation through to CPD days that tutors run, and it is lovely to follow graduates through their careers in animal manipulation.
From the osteopathic student’s perspective they get a much more individually tailored approach to their own teaching needs, with many practical sessions being on a one to one basis. This high tutor to student ratio has meant that the course consistently turns out graduates of a high calibre.
The focus of the course is on treatment of the horse and dog, however there are lectures covering livestock, and some of the tutors introduce their students to small furries and exotics on the clinical tutor days. During the second year, students get to observe and treat genuine clinical cases with their assigned tutors, as well as being expected to undertake observational and palpatory practice on their own.
How can you enroll on the MSc Animal Osteopathy?
If you want to find out more about the course you can download the PDF covering the syllabus and entry requirements from the McTimoney website at www.mctimoney-college.ac.uk, and then attend an open day at the college to discover more, and get to ask any questions you might have. I am always happy to be contacted via e-mail or text to answer any osteopathic specific aspects, as well as mentally walk you through the two year course. We can also put you in touch with past graduates, who can give their opinion of the course as well, and offer insights from a student’s perspective.
New intake on the course is every January, rather than following the normal undergraduate year. If you are serious about a career in animal osteopathy this is the only established course, with a solid history of turning out world class graduates in the UK. We would love to welcome any osteopath on board, wishing to gain a MSc in Animal Osteopathy. I say osteopath, because at the moment we are only able to take graduate osteopaths, this being a postgraduate qualification.
Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost, DO is Clinical Director on the MSc Animal Osteopathy programme, run through the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, Oxon. He also lectures nationally and internationally; runs unique wildlife workshops; and is a prolific writer, presenter, and broadcaster. His radio show “The Missing Link” on Corinium Radio is the only one of it’s kind and is rapidly gaining a loyal listenership. For more than 6 years he chaired The Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice (SOAP), which recently changed its name to the Association of Animal Osteopaths (AAO).
For more information contact Tony at +44 7831 759339