Kerrie Bainbridge Pg Dip A Phys, RVN, Cert Ed

A Day In The Life Of A Veterinary Physiotherapist

We asked Kerrie to describe her typical day as a veterinary physiotherapist.


I absolutely love my job as a veterinary physiotherapist! I love what I do and not only is it very rewarding, It’s a challenge mentally as well as physically.

My days vary and they always keep me on my toes! My day can be mixed with the regular patients that I visit for routine checks and maintenance to the more challenging cases, where we may not have a diagnosis yet for that patient.

This part of the job I really enjoy as I get to be involved in the work up process and help discover problems, as well as help, devise an individual treatment plan.

Not only do my days vary, but so do the species. I will visit a mixture of dogs and horses to cats and even livestock! Some of these cases are routine maintenance, some are having post-operative rehabilitation for various conditions such spinal, cruciate ligament injuries as well as fracture repair.  Other patients may be suffering from sprains, muscle strains or arthritis.

It is incredibly rewarding to see patient progress. The owners are equally pleased to see their beloved pet/companion improve. Some of my patients just like a routine massage as a treat post agility/competition. This can help keep them supple.

Each physiotherapy consultation is different. I like to start with an initial consultation as this allows me to obtain a detailed history of the patient as well as allows the patient and I to become familiar with each other. Trust is a very important aspect.

Physiotherapy is often a long process and many of my owners come back for repeat sessions weekly to once a month, depending on the original complication. The advantage to this is that I can update the owners with exercise regimes that are tailored to the patient's individual needs, as well as monitor their progress and make changes to the original plans as and when necessary.

Each case must be treated individually. No two cases are the same, even if the diagnosis is. Each patient requires a full physical assessment. During this procedure, I will ask the client questions about the patient, the injury/complication. Once I have obtained a patient overview I can then carry out a physical examination, this will include a full gait analysis as well as flexion and extension examinations. This allows me to get a feel for the issues present and allows me to start thinking about personalising a treatment plan. The treatment plan will vary depending on the patient and their condition The plan will include my aims for the patient, home exercises that I will teach the owner to do as well as making changes to their exercise regime, add exercises that will improve the patient’s strength, flexibility or coordination. Each follow-up appointment will show me whether there has been any progress or deterioration in the case.

Sometimes the cases can be very challenging to work. Some patients co-operate others won’t, and so if they won’t do an exercise you want them too then I have to work out another way to achieve the action needed. You will also find that some patients are very switched on and clever, so much so that some work out how to take an easier route than doing the exercises you set that will work on the problem area!

My consultations are home and yard visits. This allows the patient to be relaxed in their own environment. I enjoy travelling around West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire meeting new patients as well as visiting current clients and their pets.

After works over it’s all about the paperwork! During this time I need to ensure that I keep the referring veterinary surgeons up to date with their patients and the treatment plans that I am devising.

My job is incredibly physical and mentally challenging. It is important to form a bond with the patient and their owner. No matter how experienced you are with each species of animal, you have to be on your guard and earn their trust. You must remember that you are working in their territory, their level. Without patient trust, it can be very dangerous. Luckily, both my patients and their owners trust me! I love seeing how my regular patients get excited to see me! It makes my job so much more enjoyable! It is also very rewarding to get feedback and updates from owners too!

I have the best job in the world!


My Pathway to Veterinary Physiotherapy

Kerrie Bainbridge Pg Dip A Phys, RVN, Cert Ed


Have you always been interested in Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy has always interested me since I received physio after a hockey injury. I was always fascinated by it. I continually thought about it more while working in veterinary practice, I always wondered if physiotherapy as part of a rehabilitation plan, would enable to patient to improve at a better and faster rate, than just the standard cage rest.

Initially, I started out as a Veterinary Nurse. Physiotherapy wasn’t really heard of in vet practice when I started in 2001. Over the years I worked in various veterinary practices, including an orthopaedic referral practice. It was here that I started to get involved in more of the post-op aftercare, including a few basic physiotherapy techniques. I really enjoyed this and found it interesting. I started researching the topic and looked at courses.


What is the next step?

Originally you had to train as a human physiotherapist first and then would be able to top up in the veterinary side, for me this didn’t sound a fun option! So I waited a few years and kept looking for other things I could do to challenge myself. I embarked upon a teaching career teaching Veterinary Nursing and Animal Management for a few years, but I always knew that this wasn’t something that wouldn’t satisfy my need to challenge myself.

A few years later I noticed a university flyer showing a Veterinary Physiotherapy degree. I started researching the topic again and found that a few universities were now offering a veterinary pathway. This was perfect! I finally could go straight into studying something I wanted without having to go the long way around and studying species that were linked with my background!

I looked through the various options available; each academic institution offered a different package. It’s important to look through and see what works for you, which will allow you to be recognised in the industry and which ones are flexible in their learning approach. I am more of a kinaesthetic learner, so for me, I had to choose a course that had a lot of practical to help put theory into perspective. Course fees are also something that you must take into consideration! I had already had a student loan and a maintenance grant for previous qualifications, so this wasn’t an option the second time around.

I settled on a two-year Post Graduate Diploma, which equates to a level 7 qualification.

The course was covered the basic study skills through to the topics of gait and biomechanics, orthopaedic and neurological conditions, manual therapies as well as others. I knew from the topics offered, this was the qualification for me.


What qualifications do you need to study for a Veterinary Physiotherapy degree?

Entry requirements will vary depending on your chosen academic centre. Usually, course providers are looking for a full level 3 qualification in a course such as BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management / City & Guilds Extended Diploma in Animal Welfare or related subject with 320 tariff points minimum / DDM/D or Three A2 levels (dependant on grades) including Biology, Chemistry or Physics with grades ABB

For me, veterinary nursing qualification was accepted as enough credits to go onto the course as well as my previous Animal Management and teaching degree qualifications.

After 2 years of hard study, practical experience and exams I was awarded my qualification. This has enabled me to start up my own sole trader company, Hounds to Horses Physiotherapy.

My next challenge is building a successful business over the next 2/3 years! 




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