For Rosie Perrett, rotations began with farm practice. Combining EMS with rotations offers the chance to get valuable experience with all species.
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I recently did my first farm animal rotation. I didn’t really know what to expect, but presumed that I would have the life of a cow in my hands and I would have to fix it. This wasn’t the case at all.
First, I learned about herd health – actually, population medicine – and discovered that most days were spent indoors looking at a laptop. I was given farm data to analyse, to work out what farmers were doing right and where improvements could be made and, in some instances, I presented my suggestions to the farmer. Being a maths nerd, I liked looking at the numbers, and there were lots of them to consider – body condition scores, lameness scores, fertility data, nutritional data, cow comfort quotients and youngstock data. Overall, it was a rewarding couple of weeks, especially when the farmer seemed willing to implement some changes we suggested about his cattle housing.
The next two weeks were spent more actively involved with animal handling and clinical skills. I got to grips with learning how to do disbudding and injecting local anaesthetic to desensitise the area. Other tasks involved blood sampling (which takes practice), suturing techniques, foot trimming and biosecurity protocols, to name just a few. I now feel much more confident about large animal practice.
I then completed two weeks of equine EMS at my local practice at home in Dorset. This placement has been one of my favourites so far. This time it was the middle of the breeding season and I got to handle several adorable foals.
The practice was especially busy, so I got involved in a range of cases. A notable one involved a traumatic knee wound that had been beautifully stitched; however, a subsequent argument with a water bucket had torn the wound open, leaving a much larger defect. As it was important to minimise the movement of the leg to ensure good healing, a Robert-Jones bandage was applied, which added to my knowledge of treating wounds.
I also experienced the treatment of a horse that had been kicked in the eye. In this case, pain relief was essential – other than that, we kept it as clean as possible to prevent further infection. The area was swollen, hot and with some abscessation, so antibiotics were given.
I also got to watch a couple of pre-purchase examinations and was involved in lameness work-ups, routine vaccinations and dental examinations.
The experience has brought equine practice back into the frame as an option after I qualify and although coping with horseflies and hay fever were negative aspects, they certainly don’t outweigh the opportunity of working with foals.
Catriona Ritchie has joined Axiom as a farm animal veterinary adviser. A Glasgow graduate, she has an MSc in livestock health and production. She spent three years in mixed practice and14 years as a veterinary investigation officer (VIO) and disease surveillance centre manager in the north and north east Scotland for SAC Consulting Veterinary Services. For the past three years she has worked in farm animal practice alongside doing short-term VIO contracts – she brings a wealth of knowledge of farm animal diagnostics, disease investigation and surveillance, plus cattle and sheep health schemes to her new role.
Liz Mossop has joined the University of Lincoln as deputy vice chancellor for student development and engagement. She will work with colleagues across the institution to enhance the student experience, having a particular focus on teaching and learning, student engagement and employability. Formerly professor of veterinary education and sub-dean for teaching, learning and assessment in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, she brings expertise in novel curriculum design and delivery, with an emphasis on the teaching and assessment of professional skills and professionalism.
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