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SCTS Small Animal Surgery



One year in the first instance, renewable for periods of one year up to a total of three years.

Aims of Senior Clinical Training Scholarship (SCTS)

The aim of the Scholarship is to train a recent veterinary graduate in small animal surgery. Surgical conditions are a significant problem in companion animals and there is an ever-increasing demand for specialist expertise in this field. In order to enable the Scholar to take further qualifications in surgery the SCTS will encompass rotations and teaching in small animal soft tissue surgery and orthopaedic surgery and provision will also be provided to complete rotations in neurosurgery. Valuable experience and instruction will also be given in teaching and presentation skills and clinical research.

The Scholar will be under the direct supervision of:
Lecturer in Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery
Heidi Radke DVM DrVetMed DECVS MRCVS
Lecturer in Small Animal Orthopaedic Surgery
Laura Owen, BVetMed, CertSAS DECVS MRCVS
Lecturer in Small Animal Surgery

Time Allocation

SCTSs will spend an equal amount of time on the orthopaedic and soft tissue rotations during the first two years of the SCTS programme. In the final year it is possible to allocate more time on either orthopaedics or soft tissue, depending on the preferences of all SCTSs in the team, and dependant on satisfactory progress with the ECVS case log.

Study Time

At least 66% of time during the SCTS will be spent on clinical case management. Up to 34% but not less than 9 weeks of time will be allocated each year for study and holidays.
Over the three year SCTS, study time will be spent as follows:
·         2 weeks (80 hours) anaesthesia rotation – QVSH
·         2 weeks (80 hours) radiology rotation – QVSH
·         2 weeks (80 hours) clinical pathology rotation – QVSH
·         2 weeks (80 hours) small animal medicine rotation - QVSH
·         6 weeks on SCTS project
·         4 weeks on neurosurgery
·         Remaining time to be spent on private study / writing papers.
·         RSPCA clinic support is shared on a rota basis with the other SCTS and Senior physicians.


The SCTSs will be provided with an annual plan detailing time to be spent on the clinical rotations of orthopaedic and soft tissue rotations. Time not officially allocated to either service will then be spent as ‘study time’ doing one of the components as listed above. The individual scholar will have the responsibility for organising and arranging the necessary rotations on other services.
In addition to the appraisals that are held during the probationary part of the SCTS and annually thereafter. Regular six monthly assessments will be held with the SCTS, supervisor and Head of small animal surgery to assess progress with the ECVS training programme.
Clinical Caseload –           400 surgical cases minimum over 3 years
                                                160 of these cases minimum will be supervised
Year one small animal surgical SCTS
Initially 100% supervision will be given for all surgical procedures. This supervision will be gradually lessened according to the difficulty of the surgical procedure and competence and ability of the SCTS. It is expected that SCTSs will be undertaking approximately 25% of surgical procedures unsupervised by the end of year one.
SCTSs should aim to complete most if not all of their weeks on anaesthesia, radiology, clinical pathology and small animal medicine during the first year of the SCTS. The rotation on anaesthesia should be prioritised and completed first so SCTSs can supervise induction or recovery of their patients as necessary.
SCTSs should have made significant progress on their projects and scientific papers during the first year of the SCTS.
Year two small animal surgical SCTS
Supervision will continue but by the end of this year supervision should have reduced to 50% for routine cases (dependant on the complexity of the case and competence of the SCTS).
SCTSs should complete any remaining weeks on anaesthesia, radiology and clinical pathology and small animal medicine rotations during the second year of the SCTS.
SCTSs should have submitted at least ONE and preferably TWO scientific papers by the end of the second year of the SCTS.
Year three small animal surgical SCTS
Scholars should have reached a level of competence where they are supervised for approximately 25% of routine surgical procedures. If not submitted already the second scientific paper should be submitted by the middle of the third year. The externship can be taken in the third year.


This SCTS programme will be based at the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge.
The Hospital facilities include:
·         Fully equipped and staffed small animal theatres, with a state of the art small animal surgical suite and five operating theatres.
·         Diagnostic imaging capabilities including x-ray, MRI, scintigraphy and ultrasound, access to CT
·         Fully staffed nursing wards and intensive care facilities
·         On site clinical pathology and histopathological staff and laboratories
·         A well-stocked veterinary library and access to the local human teaching hospital (Addenbrooke’s) library
·         Easily accessible computer and internet facilities
·         A superbly equipped radiotherapy centre with linear accelerator

The Orthopaedic Service and Specialised Equipment

Referral Service – approximately ten new cases are seen each week in the orthopaedic small animal department. Cases include dogs and cats with a wide variety of orthopaedic problems including arthritis, fractures, obscure lameness and bone neoplasia to name a few. Facilities are available to perform most small animal orthopaedic operations and investigative procedures including cemented total hip replacements, tibial plateau levelling osteotomies, locking plate and interlocking nail repair, Ilizarov ring fixation and arthroscopy. The SCTS will initially be given full supervision and guidance during all surgical procedures by a senior surgeon. The level of supervision and teaching will then be tapered off at a rate commensurate with the Scholar’s ability and competence and according to the level of complexity of the procedure.

The Soft Tissue Service and Specialised Equipment

Approximately ten new cases are seen each week by the soft tissue service. These include a wide range of surgical conditions, including ear, nose and throat, gastrointestinal, urogenital and oncological conditions, The centre has a particularly high caseload in oncological conditions. Facilities are available to perform all routine surgeries. Many cases are presented for diagnostic evaluation and the SCTS will be given full guidance in the investigation and management of these disorders.

Emergency service

The SCTS will participate fully in the out-of-hours rota gaining valuable and essential experience in emergency work and patient management including intensive care cases. Participation in the out of hours weekday and weekend rota is shared between the other surgery SCTSs. Full back-up cover is provided by senior surgeons, physicians, radiologists and anaesthetists.

Primary Care

The SCTS will act as the primary veterinary surgeon at the RSPCA first opinion clinic on a regular basis, giving excellent access to first opinion cases, including many cats, dogs and exotic animals with simple fractures, common joint problems and soft tissue surgical conditions. When possible time spent on RSPCA clinics will be scheduled to coincide with a study week to avoid conflict with time on other services. The SCTS will be involved in supervising students neutering RSPCA cases and supervising dentals when on their RSPCA weeks.

Departmental Structure and SCTS Training

The Department has a well-established and highly successful surgical SCTS programme with an outstanding achievement for specialist qualifications of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the European College of Veterinary Surgeons. Currently we have an unsurpassed 100% pass rate for all the specialist surgical qualifications.

Teaching and Continuing Professional Development

The SCTS will be expected to attend the day release courses organised by the University of Cambridge on teaching and learning in higher education. These courses deal with education methods (lectures, seminars and small group teaching etc.) for lecturers involved in tertiary education. There are also computer and audiovisual courses available.
Scholars have to prepare and attend presentations given by and to members of the department for critical appraisal by colleagues in the Hospital. In addition to this, continuing education presentations to patient owners, veterinary surgeons and nurses will be a requirement of the SCTS programme.
Excellent support will be provided to the SCTS from other clinicians in the small animal department including staff in medicine, imaging, anaesthesia, ophthalmology, neurology and clinical pathology.
Weekly Journal Club and Slatter Club meetings are held in the small animal surgery department. The SCTS will participate fully on a rota basis in preparing material for these regular meetings.

Research Programme

Clinically orientated research to advance the understanding and management of surgical conditions in small animals is an important and vital aspect of the SCTS training. The SCTS will be allocated time during the training period of the SCTS to complete a clinical research project. The SCTS will be encouraged to apply for research grants in order to gain experience in grant applications and management.

Undergraduate Teaching Participation

The SCTS will be encouraged to participate in
·         1st year small group teaching (supervision for Colleges)
·         5th year orthopaedic practical’s. In the second and third year of the SCTS the Scholar will be involved in the didactic lectures to the fifth year veterinary students
·         6th year clinical teaching on the small animal orthopaedic and soft tissue rotations. During the clinical rotations he or she will be expected to contribute to seminars, practicals and case rounds. This will provide the opportunity for the development of seminar presentation techniques, supervision of students performing surgical procedures, clinical case management and continuous assessment of students

Collaborative Arrangements

Scholars are encouraged to spend a short period of study at an alternative institution. We have strong links to internationally acclaimed referral hospitals both in the United Kingdom and abroad, and externships are encouraged. The SCTS will be expected to organise the externship.


The SCTS will be expected to prepare and publish at least two scientific papers in refereed journals during the programme. The SCTS will also be encouraged to attend surgery congresses. He or she will be expected to present papers on these topics at scientific meetings such as the Annual Congress of the British Small Animal Association, the British Veterinary Orthopaedic Association, European College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Congress and the European Society of Veterinary Orthopaedics and Traumatology.


The qualifications that the applicant will study for are:    
·         The Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons
After year three the SCTS should be eligible to sit the ECVS surgery examination.