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Catch up on this week’s top headlines in the veterinary sphere, presented by VetX International

Veterinary Students Face Layered Admission Challenges

Potential veterinary students are facing significant obstacles when applying to veterinary schools, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). 

Challenges such as application fee costs, lack of application guidance and difficulties in gaining veterinary experience are just some of the many barriers students are facing. 

Dr Christina V. Tran, who completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California-Davis, told the AVMA that ‘there is no quick fix. It’s a marathon, and we need to keep it at the forefront and think systemically.’

‘Students play a guessing game if they have financial concerns … I have X amount of dollars to pay for this. If you do have the money to apply but you are in California and you are invited to a veterinary school on the East Coast for an in-person interview, how do you get out of school and how do you fund traveling to the interview?’ 

Although there are significant challenges, Dr Tran is optimistic about the future.

‘There is no quick fix. It’s a marathon, and we need to keep it at the forefront and think systemically.’

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Cancer Misdiagnosis Common in English Bulldogs Researchers Find

Researchers have found that a high B-cell count doesn’t necessarily indicate cancer in English bulldogs.

The study, which was conducted by Colorado State University (CSU), found that English bulldogs thought to have cancer commonly had a non-cancerous syndrome called polyclonal B‐cell lymphocytosis.

Looking at a database of 195 English bulldogs, the researchers identified 84 cases with increased numbers of B-cells in the blood. 

Of those dogs, researchers found that 70 per cent of them did not have cancerous cells present. 

‘This important finding demonstrates we shouldn’t assume a high B-cell count always indicates cancer in English bulldogs’ says Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer, Janet Patterson-Kane, B.VSc., PhD, FRCVS. 

Anne Avery, PhD, VMD, a professor at CSU further stated that these findings could ‘save some dogs from being misdiagnosed, treated for cancer, or even euthanized when they shouldn’t be.’ 

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Veterinary Triage, Booking and Payment Systems Streamlined by Covid Pandemic

In a survey conducted by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), researchers have found that technology used to mitigate the effects of covid have had a positive impact on practice functionality. 

Of the 1001 veterinary professionals surveyed, over 25% felt that the use of technology for triage and/or consultations had improved the efficiency or overall service offered for clients.  

BSAVA President Professor Ian Ramsey said that ‘the survey results have given us an important insight on how technology is being deployed to help the profession continue to help pets and their owners safely and to the best of their ability in these difficult circumstances.’

‘Vets have embraced innovations in practice such as telephone triage, remote consultations and digital communications. These have shown us that, as within the human healthcare sector, we can continue to deliver our vital services, possibly to an even more efficient and effective standard, despite the restrictions.’

‘Our Congress session on lockdown learnings promises to make for compelling listening with important ramifications for veterinary practice even after the pandemic has receded to a bitter memory. As we return to degrees of normality these innovations should not be discarded, but equally must not be allowed to generate the inequalities that go hand in hand with them if some practices and owners are inadvertently left behind.’

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Vets Facing ‘Huge Challenges’ During Covid Pandemic

A Sussex vet has highlighted the ‘huge challenges’ veterinarians have been facing during the covid pandemic. 

Sally Mitchell, RVN, a practice director at Melton Veterinary Surgery in Sussex, spoke to the East Anglian Daily Times about how covid had impacted her practice, highlighting the struggles many veterinarians have been facing. 

Mrs Mitchell told the paper that whilst the practice had been able to remain open during the lockdown, social distancing measures had put a particular strain on the clinic. 

Such measures had meant that some owners have had to have their pets put down in the boots of their cars. 

‘We have not closed at all as we are an emergency service. We have to provide 24-hour care.’ Mrs Mitchell said. 

‘For safety, we are trying to encourage people not to come out of their cars. The biggest challenge has been keeping the team safe. If we are not safe, neither are our clients.’

‘We have to be very careful as many of our clients are quite elderly. We have to do what’s safest for them, but it’s really tough.’

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Majority of Vet Staff are Concerned About the Impact of Menopause on Working Life

A survey run by Veterinary Woman and SPVS has highlighted the concerns of many female veterinarians surrounding the impact of menopause on their working life. 

Of the 250 respondents, 76% said they were concerned about how menopause had affected their health, life and work. 80% stated that menopause had impacted their health in some shape or form, and half stated that menopause had already impacted on their mental health. 

When asked, respondents stated that flexible working hours and assistance with heavy lifting were some of the few measures practices could instate. 

Liz Barton, editor of VW, commented that ‘as a predominantly female workforce, we cannot ignore the profound impact the menopause can have both on individuals and veterinary teams.’

‘The effects last for an average of seven years and impact a majority of women mid-career. As a profession we have an opportunity to lead this conversation as it’s beginning to open up across the wider media.’

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How to Keep a Positive Mindset During Lockdown

It can be hard to maintain a happy headspace during lockdown- especially when you’re working in a demanding field like veterinary care. 

And whilst coming home and watching telly can give some temporary relief, actively taking the steps to prioritise your wellbeing is key to keeping your energy up. 

Here are 4 easy steps you can take right now to make your head a happier place. 

Stay Connected

Whilst you might not be able to see your loved ones, calling a friend or a family member can help us feel significantly less isolated- and remind us that we’re not alone. So pick up that phone and get chatting!

Talk about it

Feeling worried or scared is completely normal, and oftentimes sharing your concerns can help you rationalise your fears. Have no one to talk to? There are plenty of helplines which you can call here:

Reflect on your habits 

Sometimes we can get so in our heads, we don’t realise that our behaviour is making us feel worse. 

Take a step back, and look at your lifestyle. Are you eating well? Staying hydrated? 

Sometimes we can be so caught up helping others we forget to help ourselves- so take the time to be your own best friend. 

Manage Anxiety

Although experiencing anxiety is completely normal, sometimes ruminating in anxious thoughts can cause considerable discomfort. 

Focus on what you can control, and practice acceptance to the things you cannot. 

For strategies to manage anxiety, search ‘every mind matters’ online. 

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For more information on how you can look after your mental health, check out our 4 ways to deal with emotional fatigue article here, or read our pursuing positivity and avoiding burnout article here.

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