Partnership with RSPCA offers vet students hands-on shelter medicine experience

21 Feb 2019 16:31:13.020

Vet students are gaining hands-on experience of the challenges and rewards of shelter medicine thanks to a new partnership between the University of Nottingham and the RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Centre.

The final-year students at the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science are being given the chance to treat cats, dogs and rabbits coming into the centre under the close supervision of its resident vet.

The placement offers them valuable skills in dealing with animals which have received little or no veterinary care in the past and often arrive at the shelter in an extremely poor condition.

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The partnership comes as RSPCA Radcliffe prepares to open a new £1 million rehoming and education centre, which places an emphasis on working with children and young people – from primary to higher education – to raise awareness of animal welfare issues.

Back to basics vet medicine

Ella Carpenter, RSPCA Animal Centre Manager, said: “The students are familiar with seeing pets which have been well cared for by their owners and it can be shocking for them to witness the state in which some of the animals arrive at our shelter.

“In particular, they see the, often life-threatening, impact it can have on an animal when it hasn’t received care considered to be fundamental veterinary medicine, such as flea or worming treatments.

“We commonly see animals that arrive with little or no medical history, so they can practice a back to basics, ‘treat what we see,’ approach. And they learn about the challenges we face in providing the best possible care for large numbers of animals, many with complex medical needs, while working within the finite resources of a charity which relies entirely on public donations.”

Malcolm Cobb, Professor of Comparative Veterinary Medicine and Deputy Head of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, said: “We are really excited to be working with the RSPCA at Radcliffe. There is a very large and varied case load for our students to assist with, learn from and help to manage, including some cases of neglect which they might not see elsewhere, and which can represent a significant clinical challenge.”

Vet shortage

The students spend one day a week working in pairs at the shelter with its resident vet Joanne Henstock during their rotation at the RSPCA. Under her supervision, they carry out regular check-ups on the animals and even assist in minor surgery including neutering.

They will benefit from the newly built Rehoming and Education Centre, which will feature new treatment rooms and allow existing facilities for animal surgery on the site to be expanded.

The additional skills will increase their employability when they graduate into an industry which is facing unprecedented uncertainty due to Brexit. A high proportion of vets employed in the UK are European and many have already sold practices and resigned from their positions ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU, prompting fears of a potential shortage of qualified professionals. Industries such as farming and food as well as domestic veterinary provision are likely to be affected by the crisis.

The new partnership will help to produce quality students with skills necessary to meet the challenges of this changing landscape and ensure continued functionality and growth of the industry.


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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the  2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer, proud of our Athena SWAN silver award, and a key industry partner- locally and globally.


Story credits

More information is available from Prof Malcolm Cobb in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 951


Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 84413  Location: University Park

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