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‘Veterinary Neurology’ may not be a geographical location, but Practical Neurology readers may well be regarded as belonging to a different country! Veterinary medicine has moved on since the days of James Herriot, although there are still a number of bona fide mixed practices staffed by true generalists whose patients include pets, food animals and horses. Increasingly, however, the profession has divided into small animal, equine or food animal practitioners and, in the last couple of decades, into clinical specialists mirroring the medical profession. In Europe, the certifying organisation for veterinary neurologists is the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN), charged with authenticating veterinarians as specialists in veterinary neurology and advancing knowledge relating to the pathogenesis, diagnosis, therapy and the control of diseases affecting the nervous system of animals.
To date, the ECVN consists of 173 diplomates in 18 European countries and 7 other countries, such as Israel and Mexico, which do not have their own veterinary neurology certifying organisations. The training of veterinary neurologists is rather shorter than that of our medical neurology colleagues, but nevertheless comprises a 5-year or 6-year undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine, followed by (at minimum) a 1-year rotating internship or a 3-year working in private practice, and a 3-year or 4-year specialty neurology residency. Residencies were traditionally offered only in university teaching hospitals but increasingly are now available in specialty private practices. On achieving exacting credential requirements, candidates are eligible to sit the certifying examination; this comprises 2 days of comprehensive written and oral papers covering large and small animal medical neurology, and neuroimaging, neuropathology, electrophysiology and neurosurgery.
A jobbing veterinary neurologist’s case load principally consists of ‘small animals’, that is, dogs and cats, with rare clinicians, such as me, who specialise in horses or cattle. Chondrodystrophic dogs with intervertebral disc protrusions make up a significant …
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