XlVets helps bring vet student’s EMS idea to life
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on life as we know it has been significant and vet students have been one of the groups who have been affected, with extra mural studies (EMS) placements falling by the wayside. After recently hearing about online CPD being able to be accredited towards the EMS requirement, Keeley Orrin, Senior Rep of IVSA (International Veterinary Students Association) Liverpool knew there was a need for student specific CPD but was at a loss as to how to make it happen. That was until she connected with Andrew Curwen at XLVets, who committed the community’s support for the idea. The end result has been three weeks of student specific online EMS during August, attended by over 150 vet students from all over the UK.
Keeley explains that free veterinary CPD is strongly supported, with students being given free access to several platforms but valuable as that is, it doesn’t always meet student needs, “Sometimes we haven’t covered that topic in depth or at all, which makes it hard to understand CPD designed for experienced vets.”
Gaining support for student-specific training proved difficult and it was a chance encounter on LinkedIn that helped bring the idea to life. After connecting with Andrew on the platform, Keeley was contacted and asked what kind of support vet students needed to cope with current challenges. Keeley said, “Andrew said XLVets would support us all the way to run the EMS we so badly needed. The community covered all of our Zoom licences and provided training so we could run the webinar, helped us find speakers and generally made it all happen. We’re really grateful to them for stepping up when we didn’t know where to turn to for help.”
Starting from 3rd August, there has been a week allocated for each small animal, equine and farm module – providing 90 hours of EMS. Every week more students joined after hearing about its success. Keeley ran the small animal week and her fellow student Calypso Bressan, Junior Rep of IVSA Liverpool supervised equine week, while Charlotte-Tobin Williams, Events Coordinator for IVSA Liverpool, was the lead for farm week.
Vets from practice shared clinical cases, hosted Q and A panels and provided interactive exercises and practical tips, even identifying ways to practise suturing techniques – using a banana! And to add some lighter elements, students were encouraged to share their work on the repaired fruits with their peers on mediums like TikTok ( https://bit.ly/2YmAIB5)
Practices who are members of XLVets Canada also took part, giving the students a variety of perspectives – for instance the clinical implications of running dairy cows on flat land and the challenges of moving to a new country for a veterinary job. By learning more about different skills and specialisms, the sessions were more able to closely replicate the EMS experience.
BVA President Daniella Dos Santos also took part with a session called ‘ ‘What is a vet and the veterinary career path’ and Linda Prescott-Clemments from RCVS led a session on ‘A Conversation with the RCVS’.
Gabrielle Davidson, Marketing and Communications Executive at XLVets, feels that it has been a positive experience all round, “The students have really benefited and everyone has commented on how engaged they are and keen to learn. They have learned for instance what you do on Orkney when you need to do a blood transfusion but don’t have access to a blood bank. It’s those real-life situations and solutions that will help them in the future. It’s really important to our members that we make a positive difference in the profession and we have been happy to support students with everything they needed to solve their EMS problem.”
Keeley said, “To a large extent, because of all the challenges the profession and universities have been facing, students have felt left behind. It has meant a lot to be able to turn to people within our profession at a time when we really needed help. Our thanks go to the University of Liverpool Veterinary Alumni Assocation for helping us source speakers and we are very grateful to XLVets for seeing there was an issue and being so generous with all their support.”
XLVets also runs a day one competency event for final year vet students later in the year. Any students who think they would like to take part in this event or future EMS experiences, can follow XLVets Connect on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/XLVetsConnect/) for all the latest updates.