Students take control with Virtual EMS
A veterinary student-led initiative to continue learning during strict lockdown has attracted more than 8,000 members worldwide in 6 weeks. With the Covid-19 pandemic interrupting EMS throughout most countries, savvy students turned to social networks for support, knowledge and experience as a placeholder for hands-on training. We caught up with VetWings/RVNwings member and organiser, Nicole Regan from Liverpool University.
How did VetWings and RVNwings get started?
VetWings was created as an adaptation to vet students being unable to undertake EMS in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak. Colin Whiting, a small animal vet in the south-west, contacted me as well as several other students who had seen practice with him over the years, and he noticed that we all had similar worries about the impact of the pandemic on our studies.
What do you hope your members gain from the group?
Many vet students are finding that their placements have had to be cancelled, and are concerned about missing out on their EMS experience. As a number of vets are also likely to be at home at the moment, we thought we could create a strictly positive but private forum where vets can post cases/tips very much from a practitioner viewpoint, and students can comment/ask questions/discuss - just like we would be when students are seeing practice. It also gives people a much-needed constructive focus during this strange time and is open to contributions from vets and students from all over the world. This global appeal enables the sharing of different approaches that would normally not be accessible in such an easy and relevant manner.
- What type of information is being shared?
We've covered a bit of everything! from in-depth case discussions with specialists to practical advice such as 'what do I put in my car on my first day and how do I organise it?'. There really is something for any vet at any stage of their professional development whether you are looking for client communication tips or clinical skills techniques, working with exotics, animal welfare or behaviour cases.
If you have a top tip or an interesting case, share it. If you have a question, ask it.
- What the best part of being in the groups?
The generosity and enthusiasm of vets and nurses for sharing learning opportunities has been terrific.
- Do you have any particularly memorable posts from the past 6 weeks?
A few particular stand outposts include; a fantastic case of frothy bloat in a dairy herd which received over 100 comments displaying a variety of approaches and differential diagnoses from all different corners of the world; a post regarding roadside euthanasia of a horse involved in an RTA which highlighted both the ethical and legal obligations vets hold in such situation; as well an in-depth discussion about how to tell the difference between Spondylosis deformans v spondylitis v discospondylitis v disseminated idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) and most importantly how to tell if it is clinically relevant!
- How many members you have and what countries are represented?
At the time of writing we have over 8600 members from all parts of the world, ranging from the UK and Europe to St. Kitts in the Caribbean, the states of the USA and Canada to Australia and New Zealand.
- What are the immediate and long term (if any) plans for the group?
We have run a couple of VetWings online pub quizzes which have received great feedback - mainly due to the very 'committed to the theme' host! We also hope to start hosting interactive live case-based Facebook sessions with vets on topics chosen by the students in the group. We don't plan to replace the real-life EMS experience when it can start up again; but we will be here as a valuable resource of clinical and professional situations, knowledge and experience until then.
Join the VetWings group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/673384853433861/
Join the RVNWings group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3591657704238226/