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Everything you need to know about EMS during Covid (plus cake!)

04 May 2021 | James Russell


Carpool Cases host (and BVA President) James Russell outlines the key issues that came up in this week’s Carpool Cases EMS Special.

Everything you need to know about EMS during Covid (plus cake!)  Image

You don’t need me to tell you that this has been an extraordinary year for vet students. It’s exactly why we started the Carpool Cases sessions, to try to plug some of the EMS gap that students experienced when practices were unable to offer placements.

And now that the UK is starting to open back up, we decided to assemble an expert panel to answer student questions around the rules and regulations, as well as the opportunities, for EMS.

Alongside BVA, AVS, and FAVS, we welcomed representatives from the RCVS and Vet Schools Council, and a number of practitioners from different clinical settings. The panel were united in thanking vet students for getting through such a tough time and in recognising how much students are missed in veterinary workplaces.

The discussion covered how the rules on EMS have evolved and what the vet schools have been doing to support students to meet the requirements. Through the Q&A we considered challenges practices face in bringing students back and we addressed concerns about inequality in accessing placements. We also looked at practical elements from the type of EMS work you do, to PPE and the pros and cons of lateral flow testing.

The main message from the RCVS and Vet Schools Council was to encourage individual students to speak to your EMS coordinators if there are any worries; the vet schools are working hard to support each student get to where they need to be.

And I think the main message from our practitioners was to be as open as possible with your placement providers and be ready to understand what they need you to do to comply with their new ways of Covid-safe working.

If you couldn’t join us live, I’d recommend watching the recording. You can find all of our Carpool Cases recordings on the BVA website along with our next season of events, which starts on 11 May. I hope you can join us for conversations on overtreatment, time management, fitness to practice, revision tips and more. It’s a great opportunity to earn an hour towards your EMS (if your university accepts it), in an informal environment where no question is ever a silly question! 

Top tips for getting the most out of EMS

We recognise these are tough times and there are lots of questions, so it was great to end our Carpool Cases EMS Special on a high when I asked our practitioners for their top tips for students on getting the most out of your EMS placements. Here’s a summary of their brilliant answers:

  1. Be very clear on your intention when you go into the practice because your time will be limited. (Mandisa, vet in small animal practice)
  2. Take every opportunity you’re given because the vet might not keep asking or offering. Show interest and if you don’t know how to do a task you’ve been offered, just ask. We’re always happy to explain. (Mandisa, vet in small animal practice)
  3. Trust the system and be proactive. We can all feel that everything’s gone wrong in Covid but know that people [in RCVS, the vet schools, BVA] care and they are doing everything in their power to help. Use every experience you get to be proactive. (Emily, vet in farm animal practice)
  4. Practice is all about teamwork so it’s important you muck in. No one in the team is above any of the tasks so try to help wherever you possibly can. (Sue, vet in small animal referral practice)
  5. Show willingness – the more you get involved, the more the team will welcome you in. Be keen, friendly and engaging and we’ll always have you back. (Jo, RVN in small animal practice)
  6. At the start of your placement the best question to ask the vets is what they love most because you’ll learn from their passion. (Malcolm, vet in equine practice)
  7. If you plan to bring cake, bring it on the first day, not the last. On your last day write a card and say what you enjoyed. (Malcolm, vet in equine practice)
  8. Listen to the conversations and phone calls and read the clinical notes and diagnostic plans. You’ll be able to learn the practical elements on the job but on EMS take time to listen and learn how to talk to clients, have difficult conversations, and handle complaints. (Alice, vet in small animal practice)

Thanks to all of our brilliant panellists: Mandisa Greene (RCVS President), Sue Paterson (RCVS Chair of the Education Committee), Linda Prescott-Clements (RCVS Director of Education), Susan Dawson (Chair of Vet Schools Council), Calum McIntyre (AVS President), Reece Whyte (FAVS President), Emily Craven (large animal vet), Alice Moore (small animal vet), Malcolm Morley (equine vet), and Jo Oakden (BVA President, RVN and practice manager).


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