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Abstract

Vet Lilyan Mathai is vice-chairperson of the Kenya Small and Companion Animal Veterinary Association (KESCAVA), which is now three three years old. She benefited from a scholarship that enabled her to attend the VMX veterinary meeting and expo in Florida this year.

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How is the KESCAVA helping to develop small animal practice?

We work hard to meet the demands of practitioners by tailoring continuing education to what they need and want. So far, we have run a number of successful training events with the help of our partners – the African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) – which have supported us from the start.

What is AFSCAN?

AFSCAN is a project that’s run by the WSAVA Foundation. Apart from offering valuable teaching support, it gives our members access to VetFolio, an online learning resource.

It also provides a scholarship that allows some members to attend the annual British Small Animal Veterinary Association congress or the North American congress, VMX, in Orlando. It works with Mission Rabies to run rabies vaccination programmes and is helping us obtain secondhand IT equipment through the Computers4Africa charity.

AFSCAN supports small animal clinical research in Africa too, by providing research grants and scholarships. We are looking to collaborate even more widely to build KESCAVA into the leading CPD provider in our region of Africa.

What did being a VMX-AFSCAN scholar involve?

Basically it meant that I could attend VMX in Florida this year on an expenses paid trip. I attended lectures and a wet lab and met North American Veterinary Community and WSAVA board members. Meeting vets and vet nurses from around the world clearly demonstrated the camaraderie that exists in our profession. And, because the conference was held in a large venue, getting around gave me a good cardio workout too!

What did you enjoy most and what did you learn?

It was a large event and the social interactions were memorable. I discovered that we all face similar work-based challenges, regardless of continental divides.

I also learnt that professional wellness is better catered for in the USA than in Kenya. We need to develop a programme for Africa. It is important for associations to cater for their members’ wellbeing, not just their clinical training.

What did you learn from the wet labs?

Dealing with wounds is a big part of my day-to-day practice and I find them a challenge. No two wounds are alike and treating them has taught me patience and persistence. Learning new techniques has definitely improved my practice, for which I’m especially grateful.

Do you put what you learned into practice?

Yes, I manage some cases differently now. This means that patients may have a shorter recovery time and are more comfortable, which makes our clients happier.

What are your plans for the future of KESCAVA?

We are at the early stage of introducing a wellness programme and we want to include wet lab sessions in our education programme, to boost knowledge and skills uptake. At VMX, I was able to renew our links with sponsors, veterinary colleagues and associations globally, so we now have more support – the future looks bright.

People

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has appointed Lucie Goodwin as its new head of education. She brings a wealth of experience from working in first-opinion and referral practice, academia and most recently in veterinary clinical pathology. She is looking forward to supporting small animal practitioners through BSAVA and helping them develop their careers. She plans to develop and deliver ‘an innovative programme of postgraduate education across the widest range of platforms, and promote the BSAVA’s educational activities to the membership and wider profession’.

Kit Sturgess been appointed a trustee of Cat’s Protection. He is a recognised specialist in small animal internal medicine, having a long-standing interest and experience in feline medicine and a desire to improve cat welfare. He has written a book on feline internal medicine and currently undertakes part-time clinical work, which allows him the flexibility to carry out a range of educational work, from lecturing all over the world to assisting with teaching science at his local primary school. He is also RCVS treasurer and chair of the BSAVA education committee.

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