Mrs Dickin's Veterinary Curriculum: Historical lessons for the present?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


In 1926, the People’s Dispensary for the Sick Animals of the Poor was left a large sum of money in the will of Sarah Martha Grove-Grady. This legacy later built the Royal Veterinary College’s Beaumont Animal Hospital in Camden Town, London. However, despite strenuous attempts to prevent it, the money that went to Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA and perpetual thorn in the side of the British veterinary profession, was used for a much more controversial, yet educationally highly interesting, endeavor.

Dickin bought an estate in Essex and founded the Ilford Sanatorium, in effect a private veterinary college, but one in which no member of the RCVS was actively involved. Dickin’s five-year programme was modeled on medical (rather than existing veterinary) education. In a training reminiscent of the famous Paris Hospital, which became the model for human hospital medicine the world over, Dickin had her trainee technical officers ‘walk the wards’ at Ilford. This was interspersed with theoretical work and periods of time spent in the PDSA’s national network of clinics. Students were exposed to disease and injury on a vast scale.

Dickin and the PDSA are classic victims of historical ‘progressivism’ – when a dominant historical narrative silences another story. A revisionist history of British veterinary medicine is bound to ask: Was Maria Dickin, described by the British veterinary profession as ‘an abscess in need of lancing’, in truth an educational pioneer?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2013
EventVetEd 2013 - Dublin, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 Jul 201318 Jul 2013


ConferenceVetEd 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • veterinary
  • education
  • history
  • PDSA


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