AMTRA has announced that assessments for SQP qualifications, in both written and verbal formats, have been moved online for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year.
Primarily driven by the impact of COVID-19, the regulatory body highlights the additional major benefits for both candidates and employers, already seen with the increased use of virtual and online CPD training, when face-to-face meetings have been restricted.
As well as addressing COVID-19 restrictions, online assessments help avoid time away from home and work and the associated travel costs, as well as providing more flexibility with the opportunity to split modules to suit personal and work commitments.
The move also helps to meet the growing requirement for qualified animal medicines advisors within registered premises, heightened further during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.
“We have seen significant increases in companion animal ownership through 2020, and this in turn increases demands on the provision of qualified advice on treatments and the supply of veterinary medicines,” said AMTRA secretary general Stephen Dawson.
“Similarly, the UK livestock farming industry has perhaps never received such high priority within the public conscience, and this is rightly focused on our high standards of animal health and welfare, just as it is with our love and passion for the equine industry.”
Mr Dawson added: “We have a unique and valuable resource for all of these species in the UK, through our network of SQPs, and it is essential we can maintain and build this essential distribution channel for veterinary medicines.”
Having already successfully introduced online viva (oral) examinations in November, the first online written AMTRA exams will be available to sit from Monday, January 18, following approval secured from the course team at training partner Harper Adams University.
Mr Dawson said the assessment will follow the same rigorous procedures and require the same academic effort of a conventional exam. AMTRA and Harper Adams have prepared a ‘Candidate and Employer Guide to the Online AMTRA Assessments’, to help guide both through the changes.
The AMTRA Farm and Equine assessment is the only HE Level 5 qualification for SQPs, and this is complemented by AMTRA’s online viva (oral) exam providing an additional check on the suitability of the candidate to become an SQP, giving animal owners and key partners such as the veterinary profession increased confidence in the quality of advice from AMTRA SQPs.
Each module assessment (Base, Companion Animal, Farm, Equine, Avian, Veterinary Nurse) will be made available on a specific date, while viva exams can be booked via the AMTRA website, either before or after the written exams.
|Written assessment period||Booking deadline|
|January 18-22, 2021||Noon on January 5, 2021|
|March 1-5, 2021||February 8, 2021|
|April 12-16, 2021||March 22, 2021|
|May 24-28, 2021||May 4, 2021|
|July 5-9 2021||June 14, 2021|
Mr Dawson said that plans beyond July 2021 are still being developed, and both AMTRA and Harper Adams will be carefully monitoring and evaluating the online exam process during the current academic year.
He added: “We are in listening mode, and will be surveying those taking part in the exams to help guide us. If we can adapt to make things even better in the future, we will do.
“We feel this will be a valuable move and will be of great benefit to future candidates keen to begin a rewarding career within the animal medicines and healthcare sector, while of course providing a valuable commercial benefit for employers and registered premises.”