Elisa Best BVSc Cert SAS MRCVS works as a hospital and referral surgeon at Rowe Vet Hospital in Bristol, where she has worked for three years focussing on applying her specific interests in soft tissue surgery. Prior to this, she worked in a referral practice in Bristol as a surgeon. Having obtained her RCVS certificate in small animal surgery in 2003, Elisa is currently on the advanced practitioner list and is always looking for her next opportunity to expand her skills. After recently returning from the VetAbroad practical laparoscopy course in Spain, she tells us about her adventures.
How did you hear about the course?
Through a friend who had heard that VetAbroad had developed some new courses that could be tailored to your needs. I have only done one such practical course before as finding good training for learning specialist practical techniques is tricky, so I jumped at the chance.
Can you give me an overview of what the course involved?
The course took place over two days; we spent the first morning on a simulator followed by a live pig practical session. Day two involved practice on a pig in the morning and a sheep in the afternoon. It was only myself and a colleague on the course so it was entirely tailored to our needs – we got to dictate what we wanted to learn, which was great!
What did you think of the course overall?
I thought the course was great – we both very much enjoyed it and learned a lot. I loved the fact that it was 100 % hands on practical. I’d recommend the course to any other vets with interests in laparoscopy and would definitely consider doing a similar course in the future. It was very good value for money!
Do you think that doing CPD abroad adds an extra dimension to the training?
Courses involving live animals aren’t done in this country so that’s definitely something you can only gain from CPD abroad. The animals used for the course were extremely well cared for and their welfare was a key consideration at all times. There was a little bit of a language barrier at times but generally it went very well – it was definitely a novel experience, as well as just a learning exercise.
Did you get the chance to have a bit of a holiday at the same time?
We didn’t really have time to explore but the town Caceres is lovely and there’s definitely the potential to combine practical training with pleasure if you plan it well. The centre is a two hour drive from Madri, so it does involve some effort to get there but ultimately it was well worth it.
What do you think are the biggest challenges when it comes to learning and improving something like laparoscopy expertise?
It’s an entirely practical skill and involves developing specific hand-eye coordination which is really hard to improve any other way than actually having a go! I hope more of this type of CPD will become available to vets in the future – the increase in online CPD is great for some things but isn’t really appropriate for this type of activity.