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The weekly rundown of veterinary news for the time-poor vet, presented by VetX International

US Vets Split on Recommending the Profession

A recent Merck funded survey in the US has found that, despite the fact that most vets would not recommend the profession to friends and family, they rate their work as highly satisfying. The main reasons for not advocating the profession to friends and family were: stress levels, burdensome student debt and suicide.

Asked whether the study’s findings hold up mid-pandemic, Brakke Senior Consultant John Volk surmised that the state of mental health and well-being since COVID is likely bleaker: “Veterinary medicine is a stress profession, as is human medicine,” he said by email. “The pandemic has only made it worse. These stresses are probably negatively impacting well-being. Plus, COVID has made it more challenging to socialize, and socializing with family and friends is important for well-being and mental health.”

Predictors of high well-being included enjoyment of work, having good work-life balance, spending time with family and friends and pay satisfaction. Low well-being tended to be associated with high student debt, younger age veterinarians and those with personality traits such as neuroticism (tendency toward anxiety and depression) and introversion, both of which are prominent in the profession.

“We tested for the big five personality traits, widely used in psychology,” Volk said. “Veterinarians scored above average in introversion and neuroticism, which are most closely associated with negative well-being and mental health.”

The Devastating Impact of California Wildfires

California is experiencing more than two dozen blazes. The largest blaze, known as the Creek Fire, has burned more than 73,000 acres and authorities said none of it has been contained. 

California is currently experiencing a record heatwave, with Los Angeles reporting its highest ever temperature of 49.4C (121F). The National Weather Service described Sunday as “one of the hottest days since weather records began across much of south-western California”.

This is not only having a monumental impact on humans, but on surrounding wildlife. Christa Petrillo Haefner, a ranch owner, escaped deadly wildfires that have engulfed thousands of acres near her home, but has lost dozens of livestock.

“I lost seven goats, a lamb, about 75 chickens, 20 turkeys, five ducks, and a mare and a foal did not make it” she said.

She has endured 14 fires in six years, she said, including the latest LNU Lightning Complex series of fires that have scorched more than 300,000 acres around Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Yolo counties.

Failed Investigation for RCVS

The RCVS has completed an investigation into leaks of information from the Council, that were then published in the Veterinary Record, to no avail. It is understood the documents pertained to various matters, including discussions around the potential sale of the college’s central London headquarters, Belgravia House, and their subsequent publication prompted a costly independent investigation.

However, the investigation was unable to find who was responsible – and because no member of council came forward to admit responsibility, the college has been forced to halt the inquiry on what was described as a “sad day” for the college by new president, Mandisa Greene.

She said: “There is no denying this is a sad day for the college, and for RCVS council in particular. As council members of our professions’ regulatory body, we must maintain the very highest standards of probity and integrity if we are to maintain the trust and confidence of our professional colleagues.

“In the same way, we must subject ourselves to the same level of scrutiny and investigation if these values and behaviours are ever called into question.”

Student Safety Takes Priority in UK Vet Schools

As veterinary students return or enter universities, measures have been taken to ensure they can do so in a ‘Covid safe’ way.

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “We are aiming to ensure we stay connected as a student community, despite any travel restrictions, wherever our students are in the world…From the start of the next academic year, we intend to use a hybrid approach – a blend of on-campus teaching with online elements that allows everyone to continue with their programmes. While a large majority of our lectures will be delivered digitally in semester 1, we intend to offer other elements face-to-face, such as seminars, tutorials and lab work. This means that we will have a number of buildings open for use wherever that is possible, while following the latest physical distancing guidelines.”

The RVC said its plans for combined learning were well in hand at its Hawkshead campus. A spokesman said: “With the safety of all our students and staff as our top priority, we have developed a blended learning approach that will allow students to experience a combination of online and face-to-face teaching that will ensure we maintain social distancing while delivering a world-class education.”

UK Pet Project Aims to Get Rough Sleepers – and their Pets – off the Streets

It is estimated that up to 10% of the UK’s homeless population have pets. Yet according to the Dogs Trust fewer than 10% of hostels accept dogs. While some rough sleepers with four-legged friends were given accommodation in caravan parks and dog-friendly hotels as part of the government’s “Everyone In” scheme during the pandemic, others were forced to stay on the streets, unwilling to be parted from their loyal companions. 

This is where StreetVet comes in, a charity that provides makeshift veterinary surgeries for the pets of homeless people. The scheme offers free, accessible veterinary care for hostel residents’ pets, as well as support for hostel managers and staff to adopt and implement pet policies across their sites.

Jade Statt, a vet and co-founder of StreetVet, says: “What we were all seeing time and time again was our clients being unable to get into a hostel which would then give them the stepping stone to be able to access all the other things they need to help them get off the street. Because they wouldn’t part with their pet, they were missing out.”

StreetVet operates in 16 locations across the UK from Brighton to Glasgow, and Statt explains that its clients say their pets are their lifelines and are often their “one link to their past lives”.

Calls for Animal Welfare to be Included in Coronavirus Roadmap in Australia

The Australian government announced that the first step towards emerging out of lockdown fully will happen this Sunday. The Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) has called on the Victorian Government to ensure the welfare of domestic animals is considered in Victoria’s roadmap out of Stage 4 lockdown. They say that domestic and companion animal services must be considered as essential, not discretionary.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen many people turn to animal companionship to help them get through a very tough time,” PIAA national president Barry Codling said.  

“This isn’t just about veterinary and feed services, but access to other supplies and services that ensure domestic animals can live happily and healthily, even in the midst of this pandemic.” 

“It’s vitally important, in times of grave emergency, that meeting the basic health and welfare needs of Victoria’s domestic and companion animals does not depend on the discretion of ministers and officials but is unambiguously legislated as a category of essential service,” Codling added.

Three New Veterinary Institutions Established in Chennai, India

Three new veterinary institutions have been established in the state of Chennai, India, meaning that more aspiring vets will have the chance to fulfil their dreams. Available places have increased from 360 to 480 in the area.

“The three veterinary college and research institutes – that have been established in Theni, Tirupur, Salem – will admit 40 students each in BVSC and AH courses.

In the subsequent years the intake will be increased to 80,” disclosed an official source.

Applications will be accepted until 6pm on 28th September, said the official statement. An official from TANUVAS said students will be admitted based on their marks scored in higher secondary level. “There is no other criteria such as NEET score required for admission. The further guidelines for students are given online.”

Saddle up for a New Love Affair with Cycling

To some extent, the pandemic has helped those of us lucky enough to rediscover hobbies. In the UK, one of them is cycling. We are embracing the great outdoors and spending more time getting fresh air with our families and friends.

“When I have had time off, cycling has been a real release for me. It’s a way I can get out in the fresh air and into the countryside…After stressful shifts, the bike rides have been a great lift for me mentally. I can clear my head before I get on with looking after my family” said Lizzy, NHS consultant.

“Anyone with kids will know how hard it is to find an activity that everyone enjoys! At the start of lockdown we set out on our daily walks with my six-year-old son riding his bike, trying to master the art of starting and stopping, while his four-year-old sister ran along behind. It wasn’t long before the mile-long route, although beautiful, started to become monotonous. We kitted out the rest of the family with bikes so we had the freedom to venture further afield. We no longer had to drag the kids away from their devices, instead they asked to go out and explore” said Sarah.

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