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In this week’s VetCrunch news roundup, we discuss the innovation of Virtual Reality in veterinary education, celebrate the first DVM degree offered in Arkansas, and share how you can become a member of the RCVS council.


How Virtual Reality is Shaping the Future of Veterinary Education (USA)

In 2018, a small team of researchers received a grant from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to create a prototype for a virtual reality (VR) anaesthesiology machine. Then, in 2020, the Office of the Vice President granted funding to launch VetVR, which the founders call a “complex, first-person, virtual reality veterinary simulator”, the idea of which is to provide practical learning within numerous veterinary scenarios without any real-world consequences.

At the end of last spring’s semester, the development team of VetVR invited students to take a voluntary anesthesiology exam within the virtual world and a traditional in-classroom exam. A research team then compared these two scenarios by evaluating the differences in the performance and experiences of the students in the different scenarios.

One thing of note is that adapting to the VR setting increased the learning curve compared to the traditional in-classroom exams – VR was new to 70% of the involved students, with the added complexity of the virtual environment also playing an important role. 

VetVR hopes to expose more students to the virtual anesthesia module. “We’ll train them in virtual reality, and we’ll examine them with a real machine”, says Clinical Sciences Professor Pedro Boscan, head of the anesthesiology department at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “We are starting with veterinary medicine, but we think VR is going to be part of the future for education.”

Click here to read the full article.

Why Should You Care?

In-class didactic learning confers the bare minimum of information and constitutes the first rung of the learning pathway for most adults. It’s low risk, but also low reward. At the other end of the scale, real-life hands-on learning is where most of the acquisition of skills happens. The challenge when teaching skills that carry a consequence for error, is how to limit the downside (complications/death) while maximizing the upside (competence).

VR clearly offers a solution in this regard, one that is also, in theory, quite affordable and scalable. A chance perhaps to offer educational institutions and private employers the ability to train their workforce while avoiding many of the risks and constraints that get in the way of rapid skill acquisition. Hopefully, we see much more of this kind of tech coming to the fore in the years to come. 


Lyon College Becomes the First in Arkansas to Offer DVM Degree (USA)

Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas has received official approval from the Higher Learning Commission Institutional Actions Council (IAC) to introduce the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Degree. This marks the first time this degree has been offered in the state.

Commenting on the approval, Lyon College president, Melissa P. Taverner, PhD, MSc had this to say: “Achieving the approval of our regional accreditor for these schools is a major milestone for us… Work on the… programs continues to move forward, and Lyon College will provide updates as subsequent steps in developing the Institute of Health Sciences are achieved.”

To gain professional accreditation, Lyon College will submit it to AVMA’s Council on Education in early 2023.

To read the full article, click here.

Why Should You Care?

Not to state the obvious, but we need more vets. The question is, what kind of teaching and training framework will Lyon College adopt? There have been some outstanding examples of new ways to teach a veterinary education that are better aligned with the market needs than the more traditional models that have come before.

In the UK for example, newer veterinary schools have baked in new paradigms of teaching such as problem-solving and systems thinking into their courses from day one. Plus they have sought to engage the local veterinary practice community as “extended faculty” pushing much of the field-based learning into the hands of non-academic practitioners. This has been welcomed as it facilitates both real-time learning, and relationship-building between the school and the local clinics.

Ultimately, this might help to keep a few more vets staying locally, qualify with a more realistic “day-one” basket of skills, and help ease pressure on the skills shortage experienced more widely. 


Nominations Open for the RCVS Council (UK)

Anyone who is interested in standing as a candidate in the 2023 Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council or Veterinary Nurses Council elections has until 5 pm on Tuesday 31st January 2023 to submit their nominations to stand as a candidate. These elections will take place in March 2023 and April 2023 respectively.

The RCVS council is responsible for approving major policy decisions regarding regulations and advancement within the veterinary profession. Council members are responsible for “all matters concerning veterinary nurse training, post-qualification awards and the registration of qualified veterinary nurses, as well as the joint RCVS and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) VN Futures project”.

In order to provide more information for any prospective election candidates, an information session will be held on the 20th of December 2022 from 4 pm to 5 pm GMT. Registration is free and can be found here.

According to the event listing, this session will cover the following topics:

  • “The candidate nomination and election process
  • The role of RCVS Council and VN Council in the governance of the RCVS and the regulation of the veterinary professions
  • The RCVS and VN Council committee structure and delegated powers
  • Key duties of RCVS and VN Council members
  • What is expected of members of RCVS Council and VN Council including Code of Conduct and the Principles of Public Life”

Click here to read the full article.

Why Should You Care?

Along with drinking tea and complaining about the weather, “RCVS bashing” is a favored British Veterinary pastime. But we all know, or ought to know, that moaning about stuff and not actually doing something to change them is a complete waste of time.

So if you don’t think the Royal College is doing a good job, then now is your opportunity to work as part of the team to drive change. Elections to the council are open for nomination by any member of the RCVS. So if you want to give something back to your community, or even try to influence change in education or regulation, then election to the council might be on your list of things to consider. 


New Resource Helps Tackle Abusive Online Reviews (UK)

The BVA, in conjunction with VetsDigital, has created a new resource to tackle online abuse toward staff as part of the Respect Your Vet Team toolkit. It includes “practical tips on how to protect veterinary staff from online abuse, downloadable posters and graphics encouraging respectful behavior from clients, and a series of blogs exploring these issues”. The BVA site states that it discusses the difference between negative and unfair/abusive reviews, the steps to deal with abusive reviews, and also includes information regarding conflict resolution.

Access to the resource is for BVA members only. Once signed up, members can click here to download it.

Click here for the full article.

Why Should You Care?

Online abuse is an unfortunate part of business life these days. Consumers are more empowered to offer feedback in ways that can seem very harsh, unfair, and even very personal. At the heart of most complaints, however, there is usually a problem that was caused by the practice.

While efforts to improve awareness of issues surrounding the impacts of online abuse are very welcome, we hope they are also the most basic and easy way to avoid such things in the first instance: seeking out, reviewing, and making changes to eliminate problems in how your service is delivered.

Putting a poster up on the wall, or a blog about how abuse won’t be tolerated, while not addressing a systemic issue that leads to clients regularly experiencing a 40-minute delay in the waiting area, is not dealing with the real issue. In fact, it’s not even being fair. It’s far better to address known issues and train staff on conflict resolution and complaint handling. Doing so will result in improved client satisfaction and exponentially reduce client complaints. 

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