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Lectures in the living room
  1. Anthony Chadwick

Abstract

Webinars offer an opportunity for CPD in a live lecture format in the comfort of your own home, as Anthony Chadwick explains

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ABOUT five years ago, I realised I needed to know more about the internet for my business's sake. As a referral veterinary dermatologist and the owner of a two-vet practice, I saw that it could be an ideal way to promote my two businesses (I have recently sold my first-opinion practice).

By January 2010, I had made good progress. We had two good websites that attracted clients to the referral and first-opinion practices, but I felt I needed to find someone with more understanding to get me to the next level. I attended my first internet conference, which was run by a man called Mark Anastasi. By the end of the day I had bought a course on how Google works, and, more importantly, had sat enthralled as an Australian, Steven Essa, told the audience about his success using webinars to sell things. I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment and realised how effective a tool these could be in training vets and nurses. I bought his course and with his help ran my first ever webinar a month later, on pruritus in dogs and cats. I e-mailed my referring vets, and two days later I had 50 vets in my virtual lecture theatre listening to me talking about one of my passions, veterinary dermatology. The Webinar Vet was born with the motto ‘Veterinary education made easy’. Vets loved it, and I received many appreciative e-mails over the next few days.

Anthony Chadwick set up The Webinar Vet to allow vets to ‘attend’ CPD events without having to travel

At about the same time, Ceva began to offer veterinary webinars too, and Idexx had also begun to run them for its veterinary clients in the early evenings. Many vets told me that they had grown tired of going to evening meetings at the end of a long busy day. Mums with young children said how much easier it was to do their CPD when no travel was involved and they did not have to organise childcare.

As a practising vet myself, I positioned my webinars to start around 9 pm, which allowed vets to spend time with their family before retiring to their office to cross off another hour of CPD. As the company has developed, more and more vets have told me that they have done more CPD in the past year than ever before, and that they no longer see 35 hours as a target to manage but a minimum requirement that they will comfortably surpass.

What is a webinar?

A webinar is web-based seminar or lecture, usually in the form of a PowerPoint presentation that is presented by the lecturer in his or her study and, using the power of technology, is transmitted via the internet into the homes of the vets and nurses who have registered for the event. Registration is an easy process, after which participants receive an e-mail link that they click on when the webinar is due to start.

Webinars are usually recorded, and the recordings are placed on my website so that they can be viewed at a better time for those who are unable to attend. Recording also allows those who have attended to watch again and review the material.

Since last March, the business has grown rapidly. We ran a couple of series of webinars and then started a membership scheme for vets, nurses and practices, whereby they pay a monthly subscription to have access to all live and recorded webinars. After a slow start, veterinary food and pharmaceutical companies have also shown an interest. Many hundreds of vets and nurses have attended the webinars, with a top audience of just under 1000.

Global audience

Of course, it isn't just vets from the UK who attend. The internet is truly an international community where travel is no longer necessary. Attendees have come from far-flung places like St Helena, Chile, Mexico, Thailand, Romania, Latvia, South Africa, America and Australia as well as Ireland, Spain, Germany and Greece, to name but a few. Cornwall and The Highlands, which are often remote from CPD centres, have also provided delegates.

Our webinars have mainly covered small animal issues, but have also featured practice management and equids; next month will see the delivery of our first pig webinar. We have also delivered training to Suitably Qualified Persons with the help of the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority. There have been many hours of CPD from world-renowned speakers.

Fifteen months from inception, it is good to see other companies getting involved in this burgeoning field. Some companies we helped have gone on to run their own webinars and traditional CPD providers are also seeing the potential. Webinars, I think, have made veterinary education that little bit easier.

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