Thursday, 2 May 2013

Educating veterinary students in Asia - a unique collaboration between JMICAWE, Animals Asia and Nanjing Agricultural University.

In April this year veterinary surgeon Heather Bacon and veterinary nurse Hayley Walters, of the JMICAWE team, flew with clinical animal behaviourist Dr Jenna Kiddie to the Nanjing Agricultural University in China to deliver a week-long neutering workshop to the final year veterinary students there. The workshop was a unique collaboration between JMICAWE, Animals Asia and Nanjing Agricultural University.

As with all surgical training for veterinary teaching, the welfare of the animal is paramount. Prior to the workshop commencing, all parties involved worked together to ensure that the training workshops would only be carried out on animals that legitimately require surgery. Thanks to the hard work of all 3 partners in the project, the training workshop was successfully located to the local, police run dog shelter, where there was a genuine need for neutering to be done.

The shelter, known as the PSB (Public Security Bureau,) collects stray dogs from the streets of Nanjing and dogs deemed dangerous to society and holds them there either for life or until they are rehomed. Most of the dogs aren’t neutered and breeding occurs in the mixed sex groups, so this was a win-win situation for the dogs, the shelter and the students.

The week began with a series of lectures in surgical techniques, anaesthesia, analgesia, patient care, street dog population management, shelter management, ethics and welfare and then progressed to practical, hands on clinical skills workshop. During this time the students were able to use models and manikins to practise their clinical skills on such as suturing, ligature tying, IV cannula placement and intubation under the guidance of staff from JMICAWE and Animals Asia. This offered the students the time to learn and perfect their techniques before going near a live animal.

Qualified veterinary staff instructed and demonstrated techniques to acquaint students with the various clinical processes, and then the supervised students took on the roles of anaesthetist, surgeon and in-patient carer, following their patients through the different clinical processes. This practical, reality-based training is completely different from the usual approach to veterinary clinical training in China, where dogs are purchased by universities and used by the students to practise a range of unnecessary surgical procedures, without appropriate analgesia.

The student’s reaction to the course was extremely positive and the JMICAWE team were pleased with the obvious improvement in students’ skills and knowledge.

“It’s important to remember that training workshops or TNR programmes must never just be about teaching surgical skills, or controlling a population.” said Hayley Walters of the JMICAWE. “Each of the patients is a sentient being that is feeling scared, anxious, confused and lonely. Each patient is capable of feeling pain, suffering from inadequate anaesthesia and, worse still, death due to poor surgical technique and a lack of knowledge or experience.  Whilst teaching the students we were very keen to ensure that they not only learned about surgical procedures but that the welfare of the animal goes hand in hand with this.”

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