Heather tells us how developing a learning resource for veterinary students has enhanced her learning.
Covid-19 has made it more challenging for veterinary medicine students to access experience in the field, but a student-led project, supported by a Student Experience Grant, is helping students develop better understanding of patient cases from behind a laptop.
Heather tells us more.
"I grew up in a veterinary household, and taking care of animals has always been a huge part of who I am, and what I enjoy doing. Veterinary medicine simply wasn’t an option, it’s what I am meant to do. I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else.
"CasePALs is an online learning resource for current and past Dick Vet students to look at cases seen in the University's animal hospitals and clinics. Current final-year students may choose to put together a case report of an interesting patient they worked with as a learning resource for other students. This allows real cases to be brought to life as a study tool, but also as inspiration for students during the earlier years to see what is to come.
Learning from staff
“Dr Kelly Blacklock, who set up the project, asked me to take it over in January as it was set up to be a student-run project. I am the coordinator for all things CasePALs – recruiting new cases, putting the cases in the format required for the website, and uploading them to the website; promoting CasePALs; etc, and I have recruited a few other students to help.
“I have always believed that working with staff allows you, as a student, to get to know your teachers/clinicians more personally, and also allows you to gain more intimate knowledge in the veterinary field. At the Dick Vet, we have the privilege of working with world-class veterinarians, and they have a vast amount of what I call ‘golden-nugget’ information that will stay with you for your whole career. They become more than a member of staff, they are mentors. It also allows you to take on responsibility, and improves communication skills, both of which are paramount in the veterinary field.
Covid-19 has made it nearly impossible to undertake extra-mural studies, so CasePALs has been able to provide students with more tangible ‘real-life’ cases, when they can’t experience them for themselves.
Learning from scenarios
“Students have mentioned what a wonderful idea this is. Covid-19 has made it nearly impossible to undertake extra-mural studies, so CasePALs has been able to provide students with more tangible ‘real-life’ cases, when they can’t experience them for themselves. Being in the field is the best way to learn, but the next best way, is to see the knowledge you have learned in the classroom play out in a real scenario.
“I’ve read through cases and thought ‘This is absolutely going to be X,Y,Z’ and I couldn’t have been more wrong, and sometimes it’s exactly what I thought it was going to be. I’ve learnt to approach cases one step at a time, and not to rule anything out.”
I don’t know if I could pick one person, as there are so many incredible veterinarians that I have worked with who have all inspired me in one way or another, but my mother, who was a veterinary nurse many years ago, and is the kindest person I know, inspires me the most.
How CasePals was funded
Heather is in her final year of (BVM&S) Veterinary Medicine and Surgery and expecting to graduate in summer 2022. After graduation, she plans to return to the US to complete a residency and ultimately specialise in small animal surgery.
Student Experience Grants support
A grant of £1,990 was awarded to Dr Kelly Blacklock in autumn 2019. The money contributed towards development of CasePALs website and a StoryLine licence (platform used to create interactive e-learning experiences).