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Catch up on this week’s top headlines with the weekly veterinary news roundup, presented by VetX International.

Pandemic Causes a Surge in Veterinary Visits

According to two reports published by the BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, covid-19 has driven a significant increase in veterinary demand across the US. 

Over 1.1 million pets were seen at BluePearl practices in 2020 – 200,000 more than last year. Of those pets, many of them were young, first-time patients, indicating a surge in pet ownership. 

The reports also outlined some of the main covid-challenges veterinarians have been facing this year, including challenges with safety protocols and patient numbers. 

Additionally, the reports found that 59% of pet owners have been working remotely, and that 69% of those owners are paying more attention to their pet’s health needs. 

According to the director of customer experience and insights at BluePearl, Paul Pratscher, pet ownership is at an all time high- and is not looking to slow down any time soon:

‘With many pet owners planning to adopt another pet in the future, the veterinary community may see steady or increased patient loads and prolonged challenges throughout 2021’ he says.

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RCVS Sets out their Strategy to Increase Inclusivity and Diversity within the Veterinary Profession

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has published it’s diversity and inclusion group strategy, which aims to improve diversity within the veterinary field. 

The strategy, outlines six areas where the profession can increase diversity and inclusion, including during recruitment and training stages.

‘I’ve always been of the opinion that making the veterinary profession more diverse and reflective of British society at large – as well as protecting fellow professionals from discrimination – isn’t just a moral issue, but one that actually improves the quality of the profession’ said Dr Niall Connell, senior vice-president of RCVS and chair of the diversity & inclusion group.

Dr Mandisa Greene, RCVS president, also added that: 

‘Fulfilling this Strategy will involve a lot of hard work over the coming months and years but I am glad to say that many of the activities outlined are already underway both at the RCVS and our partner organisations’. 

‘On a personal level, I have also been undertaking a number of school talks and providing one-to-one mentoring to school students about veterinary careers because, I think it is important that children from a wide variety of backgrounds can see me, as a Black British woman of Caribbean heritage, as a role-model for diversity within the veterinary profession and know that the professions can and should be welcoming to all.’

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Scholarships Help Fund BAME Candidates Wanting to go into Veterinary Nursing

A new scheme has been set up by Vets Now to help encourage more minority students to study veterinary nursing. 

According to the Vettimes, only 3% of veterinary professionals are from Black, Asian, or minority (BAME) backgrounds.

Racheal Marshall, the head of clinical nursing at the emergency and critical care provided stated that:

‘Encouraging diversity is greatly important to us, and this scholarship is part of our commitment to embed a culture of diversity and inclusion within our teams to reflect the wider communities we serve.’

‘It will help remove financial barriers to that crucial first step into higher education, and ensure vet nurses from all backgrounds are able to benefit from the wide range of opportunities that exist both in our company and the wider sector.’

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AAHA and AVMA unite to help incorporate telehealth into veterinary practices 

This month the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), joined forces to help veterinary practices incorporate telehealth into their business workings. 

They released a set of new guidelines (you can read them here: 2021 AAHA/AVMA Telehealth Guidelines for Small-Animal Practices) to empower practices to adopt digital technologies which could streamline their services. 

With the pandemic already increasing the use of telehealth, the guidelines have come out at the perfect time for many practitioners. 

AVMA president Douglas Kratt, DVM, stated that:

‘During the pandemic, a survey of companion-animal practices reported a strong increase in the use of telehealth, from 10% to 30%’.

‘Telehealth has supported better and more timely communication with our clients during a time when maintaining physical distance has been critical to their health and the health of the staff in our practices. These guidelines will help small-animal practices adopt telehealth in ways that make sense for their staff, clients, and patients.’

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Veterinary Clinics Across British Columbia are Struggling to Recruit Staff Amid Pandemic

Veterinary staff shortages in British Columbia have put immense pressure on veterinary services during the covid pandemic. 

The covid outbreak has created a major backlog for veterinary clinics in the region, who were already struggling with high workloads before the pandemic. 

Casey Bockus, a service manager at Prince George Animal Hospital told CKPGToday that the veterinary shortages had been an ongoing issue since 1999. 

‘In Prince George, we always struggle to get veterinarians here and to keep them within the city as well. We just find that there are not enough resources to get people from Prince George into veterinary school and then get them back into Prince George afterwards.’

The shortage has not only impacted veterinarians workload, but also their mental health. 

‘The profession of veterinary medicine has had a high-rate of burnout and suicide for years, and then throwing a pandemic on top of that where we don’t have our normal time to decompress, has had a huge impact on our services here.’ 

Mr Bockus is encouraging veterinarians to bring the issue up with their province boards, and hopes that there will be positive change in the future. 

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How to stay healthy with a busy schedule

Whilst we all know being healthy is key to a long and happy life, it can be hard to find the time sometimes.

Especially when you’ve had a long day at the clinic, the last thing you probably want to do is a HITT workout- so how do we stay healthy whilst living hectic lives?

First, try to make small changes that are attainable for you. 

Try to eat more fruits and vegs, and cut down on those nutritiously poor foods like fizzy drinks and sweets. 

Whilst completely cutting out ‘bad’ foods might seem like the way forward, this will likely just make you crave them more (and make you a little bit miserable). 

So instead think of the things you can introduce to your diet (rather than takeaway), such as sources of fibre and protein. 

Try to incorporate more exercise into your routine (perhaps cycle or walk to work!).  And remember, don’t push yourself too hard, you’ll likely end up burning out- or giving up entirely. 

So instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, choose an exercise routine which is attainable for you. 

Taking some of these small steps to improve your diet and fitness will improve both your physical and mental health in the future. So what are you waiting for? Start today. 

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