News from AMTRA

AMTRA announces changes to animal medicines exam system

Following a number of recent improvements to the exam format and a closer working relationship with Harper Adams University (HAU), the Animal Medicines Training and Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) has announced further developments to the RAMA exam system.  

The most significant change is an update to the structure of the written Registered Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA) exams; the level four Base, Companion, Avian and Vet Nurse exams will become solely multiple choice questions, facilitating faster results and enabling more exam slots to be available throughout the year. 

The Farm and Equine modules, which were increased to a level five qualification in autumn 2020, and are unique to AMTRA, will remain as so. 

Experience from multiple choice questions in exams for the HAU/Keele vet school shows that appropriate structuring of the exam without the need for longer answers can maintain the quality of the exam system without undermining standards. So, to support the change in format, the ‘pass’ requirements will be restructured to enhance robustness. 

In addition to these proposed changes, AMTRA is also expanding the exam format options. In November 2020, AMTRA and HAU worked together to bring the exam system online. This continues to be promoted as the default format for exams, enabling candidates to sit their exams at home or at work with video invigilation. Occasional on-campus online exams at HAU are also an option, taking place with in-person invigilation, using HAU equipment to remove IT-related issues. 

Now, in response to persistent demand, AMTRA will be introducing an occasional pen-and-paper on-campus exam at HAU with in-person invigilation, offering further choice and providing inclusivity to all candidates. 

“This wider choice of options better reflects the changing nature of the animal medicines industry,” explains AMTRA Chief Executive Stephen Dawson.

“By implementing these changes, we hope to make the exam system more accessible and efficient for employers and candidates, providing a quicker turnaround of results while maintaining the quality and reliability of the qualification.”

The arrival of a new team at HAU earlier this year has enabled these changes to be developed, with the potential for them to be implemented in autumn 2024.   

Elsewhere, Hillary Cowley, who joined AMTRA as deputy chief executive in early 2023, has begun a review of the AMTRA training manual and syllabus to ensure it continues to meet the needs of AMTRA, Registered Animal Medicines Advisors (RAMAs), their employers, animal owners, the VMD and others. 

Drawing on her own experience as a vet, and her years in the pharmaceutical industry, and now seeking regular inputs from many stakeholders within the animal health industry, the training manual will be updated, expanded and re-written for better accessibility, whilst ensuring the standard is not diluted. 

“The updates to the training manual will result in some relevant changes to exam content, as the two will, of course, work alongside each other in unison,” explains Hillary.  

“We will allow for the training updates to be implemented ahead of when the changes to the exams are applied to enable candidates to prepare.” 

The new employers’/trainers’ pack will provide tools for better supporting and guiding candidates in becoming ‘exam ready’, with resources including a marking rubric, and a timeline and guide which better explains the process of enrolling for the RAMA qualification. 

Online training will also be launched in autumn 2023 by HAU to complement the occasional on-campus training, and AMTRA will continue to work more closely with employers and trainers to ensure feedback is received and needs and expectations are met. 

“We are listening to feedback and learning, with the aim to ‘do things better’ and improve the experience for candidates and employers alike,” adds Hillary. 

“We want to ensure that the AMTRA exam system is ‘future-proofed’ and continues to deliver what is required in a practical and accessible format.”