Japanese vets explore up-skilling, Downunder

A number of Japanese veterinarians have attended a two day neurosurgical workshop at the University of Queensland (UQ).

The event was hosted from July 20-21 by VetPrac, an organisation that provides practical skills training for registered veterinarians in clinical practice.

VetPrac director Ilana Mendels coordinated the workshop over six months, liaising with UQ and Philip Moses, president of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists.

The workshop covered spinal surgery and including topics such as thoracolumbar disc disease, lumbosacral disease, atlanto-axial stabilization techniques, ventral slot and spinal fractures.

Mendels found the hospital grade surgical facilities of UQ’s Clinical Studies Centre and the veterinary technicians on hand ideal for the workshop.

“It’s great to use the facilities and show them off internationally,” she said.
Mendels said Japan does not yet have a specialisation body, which means many general practitioners are required to perform highly technical procedures, sometimes without practical experience.

Japanese veterinarian, Joji Ota, said training opportunities are rare in his country.

“Japan has a population of 120 million people, there are many pets needing care,” he said.

“Being able to train young vets on the complicated procedures in wet-workshops with specialists such as Dr Philip Moses and Dr Sue Gibbons is a real treat.”

The delegation came from across Japan, and was an initiative of Ota, and Mr Kanazawa from the Nichiyo Air Services. Ota was introduced to Mendels through Bruce Smith, Clincial Associate Professor of Small Animal Surgery at UQ.

“The group has been to Australia before in smaller numbers to learn from us at the specialist hospitals,” Smith said.

Smith was suitably impressed by VetPrac to engage them in the running of this year’s workshop.

The delegation is returning for a soft tissue workshop in July 2013.

Mendels started VetPrac in 2009 after a number of her colleagues had discussed the challenges of ‘up-skilling’ as a veterinarian.

“The goal is to bridge the gap between learning and doing,” she said.

Mendels added that there has been a significant improvement in responsible pet ownership and companion animal ethics in the last 15 years.

“There is more pressure on veterinarians to achieve positive clinical outcomes, and this can effect our confidence if our skills get slack; VetPrac helps to keep skills sharp,” she said.

“VetPrac is also helpful to people who have been perhaps travelling, or taking time out to have kids.

“It is a good way to reacquaint vets with the right skills and tools, and to solidify existing knowledge. We have a number of areas we work in, such as dentistry, soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery, opthamology, ultrasound and pathology.”

For more information about upcoming workshops visit www.vetprac.com.

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