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Getting back up to speed
  1. BVA/RVC refresher days


Changing demographics in the veterinary profession mean that more people are taking career breaks. This year, the BVA is hosting a series of refresher days to help those returning to practice get back up to speed

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THE Royal Veterinary College has been running refresher days for vets returning to practice for some years. This autumn, in partnership with the BVA, it will be holding a series of four events at the BVA's headquarters in London.

Refresher courses provide updates and refresh the principles of core areas of practice for vets returning to practice either after a career break to have children, or for other reasons, or for those changing their area of practice – for example, from large animal practice to small animal practice, or from government work to private practice.

With the changing demographics of the profession, there are a greater number of vets taking career breaks to raise children. A lot can change in the five to 10 years they might be away from practice, and it is easy to forget even core principles when one is not practising and one's brain is engaged with other things. So these one-day events aim to provide an update on what's new, but, also very importantly, they are a reminder of core principles.

The courses have been devised by the RVC's director of professional development and head of its CPD unit, Jill Maddison, who points out that they are not a rerun of an undergraduate curriculum, but focus on what the unit feels is important.

‘In the past the RVC has run up to 12 days covering more areas of practice. However, this year, because it's our first time at the BVA, we thought we would trial four of them, and I have chosen four topics that are either right at the core of practice or in an area where many people feel unsure.

‘The days are inexpensive compared with usual CPD rates because the participants tend to be self-funding; that is, they don't have a practice paying for their CPD.’

The days will focus on internal medicine, soft tissue surgery and ophthalmology.

Internal medicine I

Dr Maddison will cover the diagnostic approaches to the most common clinical problems encountered in small animal practice. Key areas will include developing a logical approach to clinical problems, vomiting, diarrhoea, and interpreting clinical pathology tests, especially in relation to liver, pancreatic and kidney function.

Internal medicine II

David Church will concentrate on advances in the diagnosis and management of commonly encountered endocrine disorders (diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism, hypoadrenocorticism and hyperthyroidism), as well as management of renal disease in dogs and cats.

Soft tissue surgery

Vicky Lipscomb will review surgical principles, including aseptic technique, perioperative antibiosis and analgesia, choice of suture materials and suture patterns, appropriate instrument use and surgical techniques. These principles will be discussed using case-based material and pictures, with reference to common surgical procedures including ovariohysterectomy and castration, exploratory laparotomy, enterotomy, wound closure and excision of mammary tumours.

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▪ The BVA/RVC refresher days will be held between September and December. Each course begins at 09.30 and finishes at 16.00. Lunch and refreshments are provided. The courses are half price to BVA members. Online booking is available at

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