FEB 05, 2014 09:00 AM PST

Certifying competence

  • Veterinary Surgeon, Retired Director of Animal Welfare, at the University of Sheffield, UK
      Bryan R Howard retired from the post of Director of Animal Welfare at the University of Sheffield in 2005 but retains an active interest in promoting the 3Rs in relation to the scientific use of animals. He qualified as a veterinary surgeon from the University of Glasgow in 1962 and completed a Doctorate in neurophysiology at the University of Edinburgh in 1966. After a period working on the welfare of poultry at slaughter he took up posts as visiting professor of Veterinary Physiology at several Universities in the Middle East. Since returning to UK in 1986 he completed the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Certificate in Laboratory Animal Science followed by a Master of Science (with distinction) in Laboratory Animal Science at the University of London, and M Ed in Teaching and Learning for University Lecturers; he remains a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy of UK. Apart from pursuing research into best practice for the care of laboratory species, he has been President of the Laboratory Animal Science Association, a Board member the UK National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) and Chair of the Trustees and the Council of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). He was also a member of the Governing Board of COST Action B-24. He is currently an emeritus member of the European Board of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC International). He has recently retired from the Board for Accreditation of Training established by the Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations (FELASA) and the Reduction Committee of the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME). In addition Bryan Howard has contributed internationally to a large number of training courses designed to advance laboratory animal science and welfare and has participated in the development of printed and web-based guidance for best practice in these areas.


    Public concerns over animal experimentation are becoming felt on both sides of the Atlantic, and a dangerous chasm is appearing between those who conduct such experiments and those who are opposed to them. This is a dangerous development, not only because a divided society loses efficiency, but the element of secrecy which it engenders can impede scientific progress and hinder the deployment of resources. It is my thesis that scientific investigations designed and carried out by competent personnel, better support animal welfare, are less likely to be flawed or lack rigour and are likely to be more acceptable to the general public. Competence is much more than the possession of manual skills or knowledge. Many of the qualities associated with competence will be acquired in the workplace rather than during formal training although the quality of the latter is paramount in establishing the correct personal development trajectory. This presentation addresses not only the characteristics and validation of that basic training, but the importance of continuing professional development, the need for ongoing guidance and the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to assessing the competence which an individual has attained. Application of a quality assurance scheme based on external standards and applied across a number of different establishments serves not only to facilitate free movement of personnel, whose qualifications can be recognised by other parties, but also provides reassurance that valid standards are being sought and attained and can act as an important motivator for those both delivering and receiving the experience, education and training that lead to competency. Learning objectives. 1. It is important to focus on competency rather than the delivery of education and training. 2. Impartial and objective validation of the assessment of competency is key to setting and maintaining appropriate standards.

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