A unique collaboration between Vets Now and PDSA is boosting vital skills of vets from both organisations in a pioneering programme.
The ground-breaking Skills Exchange initiative lets Vets Now staff observe and work on elective surgical cases at PDSA Pet Hospitals , while PDSA’s new graduate vets get a taste of frontline ECC (Emergency and Critical Care) medicine.
Now, following a major expansion of numbers since the pilot project, candidates are being selected for the January 2024 intake.
Vets Now and PDSA have a well-established relationship spanning over 20 years, working closely together at sites across the country. After identifying areas where each could share expertise, a small-scale Skill Exchange pilot was launched in 2018.
Following a hiatus during Covid, and subsequent adaptations and expansion, the 2022 programme saw 12 new graduate vets from PDSA and 22 from Vets Now take part.
“We recognised that within ECC practice, surgical cases are less common,” said Dr Aoife Reid, Head of Edge programmes and Clinical Career Progression at Vets Now.
“When they do happen, though, they are high-stakes and are usually lifesaving. So, it’s important to maintain the surgical skills of our veterinary surgeons.”
Meanwhile, while each of PDSA Pet Hospital’s perform hundreds of surgical procedures every week, working in collaboration with Vets Now’s 60-plus clinics and hospitals gives new graduates exposure to more intensive and time-critical emergencies. They encountered case presentations that are more commonly seen in emergency situations, including dystocia, seizures and dyspnoea; and developed their skills utilising point-of-care ultrasound and blood gas analysis with more critical patients.
“This a scheme has really positive mutual benefits and provides a greater level of understanding of how each other works,” said Gemma Renwick, PDSA Area Veterinary Manager.
“It makes for a smooth transition between the day and the night service; which results in a much better experience for both clients and pets.”
Before attending, vets get a taster of what to expect through short webinar-style videos. They each then spend three shifts working alongside the other veterinary teams.
The Vets Now clinicians perform several surgeries in one shift, something that would rarely happen in all but the busiest of emergency clinics. They also benefit from discussing cases when they may be more used to working in a solo environment and receive feedback from an experienced PDSA Clinical Coach.
The feedback from both sides has been hugely positive, with participating vets saying they felt welcomed and supported.
Preparatory work is now underway for the 2024 Skills Exchange Programme, which will run from January to April.
“Within the veterinary industry, although it’s a small and close-knit community, we rarely see organisations collaborating in this way,”said Dr Reid.
“So, it’s great to work together to help benefit both our vets and the clients.”