As a new graduate, there are plenty of situations where I come across unknowns. It sometimes feels like I’m not doing the absolute best I can do, because I don’t have the knowledge. The first thing I do after wracking my brains is search through my preferred list of veterinary sites and courses to find the answer. There are plenty of resources online. Many have transferred from in-person veterinary courses and conferences to being online resources. How do you choose between the hundreds out there to find one that will fit your needs?

Budget & Cost

My budget for veterinary courses is going to be vastly different from that of an established veterinarian. This is both because of the content and because of the amount of money we have available. This’ll vary between each individual. Thankfully there are sites which range all the way from free to hundreds of dollars.

VIN – the Veterinary Information Network – was one of my go-to sites in University. It’s a US-based website so some of the medications and names are different but the information itself is excellent. Unfortunately, the cost can be prohibitive for many. Memberships range from $243 for a new graduate membership to $810 for an individual membership.

Facebook groups are another alternative. Completely free, they’re a nice way to have other veterinarians chime in with their thoughts on your case. However, as Facebook is an international platform, norms and procedures common in other countries may not be permissible in your own. There’s a note here as well that if your Facebook has become entirely veterinary-related, it’s difficult to catch a break! Remember to have time away from online forums, and aim for a functional work/life balance.

The Webinar Vet is a great entry to the webinar world. There are free webinars covering many cases that you’ll see on a daily basis (as well as some truly esoteric ones), and the option of a paid ‘Unlimited’ membership. Even this can be broken down into monthly instalments if you’re not quite convinced yet. Once you’re an Unlimited Member, you can access over 2500+ hours of accredited veterinary courses and CPD. Not bad.

Quality & Trust

We’ve been warned since we were children to be careful on the internet of people pretending to be what they’re not. When you’re online and you read an article or a Facebook common and the person starts off with ‘Vet here! This is what I think…’, you wouldn’t be blamed to be sceptical. Sure, you’re not going to be asking everyone for their certificate and RCVS numbers but taking peoples credentials with a healthy handful of salt may be a good idea. So how do you ensure that your veterinary courses and education are being run by actual veterinarians, actual specialists, and actual experts?

Our first encounters with trusted specialists are usually in University. It makes sense then, that we would return to our university slides and lecturers in order to refresh our memory. These can go out of date though, so where do we find new trusted speakers?

Some may go to conferences and meets – whether that’s the World Congress of Veterinary Dermatology, the British Veterinary Dental Association, or others. These are hubs where the best speakers come and present to interested members of the profession. Previous to COVID-19, these veterinary courses and meets were usually in person around the world. However, we’re seeing more and more conferences moving online, with the added benefit of being able to return and re-watch presentations months after they’ve ‘gone live’.

Some Facebook pages and groups are run by specialists, such as Julius Liptak and Animal Cancer Surgery.  With some searching, you can often surgeries and cases on Facebook pages such as Vet CW Surgical Team.

Whoever you get your information from, make sure that it’s a reliable source and always review it before putting it into practice!

Convenience and Access

I certainly cannot bring myself to watch a two hour lecture after a day of work, and I can imagine as time in the profession ads up, time outside the profession will become all the more important. One of the best ways to juggle learning and escaping, is to have a quick print-out or flow chart which you can refer to easily. Alternatively, if you know you can vouch for information on a website, redirecting clients to do some of their own research is a good idea. Especially since so many owners now want to (rightly) be involved in their animals health.

Recommendations from VetTalk members include International Cat Care and the Pet Food Manufacturers Association. These are websites that have client-friendly areas and are a great resource for owners to read up and take responsibility for creating a loving and cat-friendly environment, or to provide their pets with a complete and nourishing diet.

Flow-Charts can be found across the internet, but I’m partial to the ones often found in BSAVA manuals or in the MiniVet guide. There are plenty of resources out there on paper with incredible quick-access guides. I’ll elaborate on these in a later blog post on the educational books that we can use in addition to the veterinary courses that you can find online.

What do you think?

Although I’ve only been a qualified veterinarian for half a year, I’ve started to notice trends of what veterinary courses, webinars, and websites I return to with notable frequency. Although they may be my favourite, I’m always open to new suggestions and aware that everyone has different needs. Pop a comment down below with any recommendations you may have! Hopefully this blog has redirected you towards some new veterinary courses and sources of information, so that our education can continue through our life journeys.