118.758 Avian Medicine (15 credit)

Lecturer: Brett Gartrell BVSc PhD MANZCVS(Avian Health)

Massey University’s Master of Veterinary Medicine (MVM) Avian medicine course aims to develop your interest and knowledge of the medicine and surgery of birds, both wild and captive.

Please note: Courses are revised following each offering. Details of content and assessment are subject to change between offerings.

What will you learn?

On this course you will learn:

  • to confidently and competently undertake avian clinical examination, radiography and anaesthesia
  • choose tests, collect diagnostic samples, and perform necropsies for any clinical presentation in bird medicine
  • to identify common avian diseases and apply problem solving strategies to prioritise conditions in individual or flocks of birds
  • about the choices for diagnostic, therapeutic and management procedures, including referral if indicated
  • to administer treatments and perform common surgical procedures.

The learning materials and lecturer facilitated discussions, will help you maximise your learning.

 How the course works

This course is taught via distance learning (you may know it as continuing education, distance education or continuing professional development) by a recognised international expert in his field.

The course uses:

  • selected readings from the literature chosen by Brett to support your learning
  • discussion forums to debate issues and clarify concepts in a supportive learning community.

Your lecturer

Brett is an avian veterinarian with 15 years of clinical experience in the care of captive and wild birds and reptiles. He has worked in private veterinary practice gaining Membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Avian Health. He gained his PhD in Zoology researching bird reproduction and nutrition in Tasmania, Australia. Brett now runs the avian and wildlife clinic at Wildbase, Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, provides diagnostic services and husbandry advice to the New Zealand Department of Conservation and teaches in veterinary science and ecology. He is keenly interested in the conservation of endangered birds and reptiles.

 Course features

In-depth part-time study 24 teaching weeks spread over a 7-8 month period

Learning materials and facilities

  • Lecturer-authored course notes
  • Study guide
  • Electronic library access
  • 3 day workshop: face-to-face or online option for some sessions  

Learning community

  • MVM Commons community site
  • Online case discussion facilitated
  • Social forum


  • 2 online tests
  • Case report assignment
  • Online final examination (remote proctoring)

Course requirements

  • Internet access: high speed (broadband) internet access is required for this course to enable you to access online content with ease.


Brett Gartrell

"Just wanted to say it was awesome meeting everyone (well, nearly everyone) at the contact course. It's nice to have faces to put with the postings now!! Thanks also to Brett (and Linda and co). The course was fantastic!"

"The course has been the highlight of my veterinary year and I've enjoyed it immensely - a big thanks for all the effort you have put in to have created such a stimulating course and to have steered it so well.  I'll be strongly recommending it to anyone who has an interest in avian/exotic medicine."

contact/virtual WORKSHOP information

Due to COVID-19, contact workshops may have to be virtual. Please check your Stream site once enrolled for the current information or contact mvm@massey.ac.nz for the current information before you enrol.  

The workshop is an opportunity for real-time interaction with your class and lecturer. Together you can build on the knowledge you’ve gained on the course through small group teaching, practical sessions and discussions of experiences in your own practice. 

For the best workshop experience, we recommend that you attend in real-time. While attendance is highly-recommended it is not compulsory in order to pass the course.

Dates and Timings*

Enrolments open October 2021
Course start February 2022
Contact Workshop Check dates here
Exam period October – November 2022
Course end November 2022

*Please note: You can still apply for enrolment after the due dates above.
Places cannot be assured after these due dates; but late applications will be considered as long as remaining places are available.

If you have any questions please check with the MVM office.


You will find more detailed information on the 118.786 Course Page. Enrolments open October 1st in the year prior to study.

For more information on delivery and course content please contact the MVM team.