As the saying goes, “never stop learning”. In our case it’s more of a requirement than a quote. In most countries, a certain amount of continuing education (CE) is necessary in order to ensure that skills and knowledge are up-to-date.
However, the days when learning meant sitting in a lecture hall or traveling to conferences are long gone: there are plenty of high quality web resources available and, depending on where you’re based and what kind of course you’re taking, you can get formal credits for online learning.
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Most online CE (CPD or continuing professional development if you’re from the UK) is offered in the form of webinars or podcasts.
First some definitions: A webinar is a online lecture where you can hear the speaker’s voice, ask them questions, and see the slides on your computer. A podcast is equivalent to an online radio show that takes place semi-regularly available by listening live or downloading for on-demand listening.
If you are new to online CE, the following educational resources should get you oriented to the options. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but we think it’s a pretty good place to start.
Popular and Trendy
You may recall previous introductions to online CE opportunities covered on VMD Technology, notably VetGirl, the subscription-based podcast and webinar service, the VetVine online veterinary community, and On the Floor @ Dove, the training video database maintained by the Oregon-based veterinary referral hospital.
But there is plenty more clinically relevant, well-presented educational content available online:
The Veterinary Information Network offers a number of online courses for veterinary professionals and support staff. Weekly lectures are followed by online discussions and the subjects range from anesthesia to sports medicine.
Online VIN rounds organized (like the superb VECCS-VIN collaborative rounds) by various veterinary specialty organizations also provide a great CE option for VIN members. VIN membership is required for most of these opportunities. Get started by checking out their course catalog.
The Webinar Vet
Most UK vets are familiar with The Webinar Vet, a website founded by Dr. Anthony Chadwick. It originally only offered companion animal CE but now provides a wide range of webinars for large animal vets as well as veterinary nurses.
Membership comes with access to all the new material (there is a new webinar every Thursday) as well as the site’s large archive. It’s definitely worth checking The Webinar Vet’s annual Virtual Vet Congress, which boasts a full 24 hours of lectures and a virtual trade exhibition.
In addition to putting on the annual North American Veterinary Conference, NAVC organizes dozens of RACE-approved online courses and an online certificate program in veterinary forensics.
NAVC also provides Vet Folio users with access to conference proceedings and publications. The service is fairly new and available by annual subscription, but you can try it free.
CE From Veterinary Schools
Veterinary schools are where breakthroughs in veterinary science are made, making online courses organized by them a valuable resource.
Veritas, a joint venture by Cornell, Texas A&M and Zoetis, for example, offers interactive online courses for companion and large animal clinicians. The website is quite new, so the number of modules to choose from is slightly limited, but all of the courses can be taken for CE credit. Be sure to check out the basic and advanced life support courses to become officially certified by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care in animal CPR. In addition to courses, the website also offers free resources like client handouts and standard operating procedures.
The Royal Veterinary College (University of London) is another major provider of continuing education courses including a wide range of online CE the form of webinars.
Honorable mentions: WSU, University of Illinois, University of Tennessee.
Veterinary vendors don’t just sponsor continuing education events – some of them provide great online CE, too.
The IDEXX Learning Center, for example, offers RACE-approved online courses and webinars for small and large animal practitioners that go way beyond laboratory medicine.
For UK vets, Boehringer Ingelheim Academy is a great resource for free webinars that will count towards your CPD requirement.
Sometimes it’s fun to learn new things even if they don’t get your CE credits.
The Vetpodcast by New Zealand vet Dr. Bryan Gregor is a monthly podcast geared to small animal vets who wish to keep in touch with news from the veterinary world. Dr. Gregor frequently has guests on his podcasts too, as well as a couple of regular correspondents from the US and Canada. He also takes suggestions for interviewees on the show’s Facebook page.
Interested in emergency and critical care? You should tune into one of the podcasts provided by Veterinary ECC Small Talk, a website led by emergency veterinarian Shailen Jasani, DACVECC. There is a new podcast every couple of weeks and the site has a newsletter and a very active presence on social media. Best of all? Membership is free.
Lifelong learning doesn’t mean you should limit learning to medical topics.
Coursera, edX, and the Khan Academy offer hundreds of free online courses, most at a college level and from universities across the world, on a wide variety of subjects.
There are just a few courses specific to veterinary medicine on Coursera at the moment, but vets wanting to become more tech-savvy (like those of us here) or with a broader interests in biology or comparative medicine will surely find interesting topics.
I’ll leave you with this gem for the future veterinary student in your life: a Coursera course titled “Do you have what it takes to be a veterinarian?” by the Edinburgh Vet School.
About the Author
Dr. Marit Veeber is a small animal clinician from Estonia. Her special interests include emergency and internal medicine. In her spare time she likes to read, hike, take pictures of stuff and play around with mobile apps. She also tweets about veterinary medicine and manages social media for the European Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society.