New conference prepares vet students for working life

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An innovative new student-led initiative to help veterinary students prepare for their first year in work has launched at the University of Liverpool.

The first BSAVA Liverpool Student Conference, which took place on 6-7 January at the University’s Institute of Veterinary Science, featured a diverse programme of over 30 different teaching sessions including hands-on practicals, group discussion workshops, and seminars focused on small animal medicine and professional life, including mental health and wellbeing.  Specialists within numerous clinical disciplines taught nearly 100 students throughout the event, and clinical topics ranged from emergency critical care to dealing with sensitive issues such as palliative care and suspected abuse.

This first event of its kind was organised by a team of Liverpool veterinary students co-led by the Institute’s BSAVA student representatives Chris McKay and Steph Gowing.

Fourth-year veterinary student Chris said:  “This first event has been incredibly successful with outstanding feedback from delegates, speakers, and exhibitors. One of our main objectives was to provide exceptional hands-on training to help students confidently and successfully perform essential clinical skills, and we certainly achieved this. In order to maximise the learning experience for each student we organised fun, interactive sessions using the very best educational resources possible, including teaching from specialists in various clinical fields and the highest quality equipment for practicals.

"I’m very grateful for the huge amount of time and effort that each committee member has invested into creating this event, as well as the phenomenal teaching from the Institute’s clinicians and external speakers too.  We are thrilled with our achievement and we are excited to see what will be featured at this conference in future."

Olivia Anthony, a fifth year veterinary student who attended the conference, said: “It has been one of my favourite weekends at vet school and I’ve learnt very valuable things for my first job!”

Head of Institute Professor Susan Dawson, who gave the closing talk at the conference, added: “I am delighted that our students have taken the time and initiative to organise this event which I hope will be the first of many. It is always easy to have ideas but it is great to see the ideas coming to fruition due to the hard work and leadership of Chris and Steph. Colleagues from the profession supported the students as sponsors and speakers and I was very proud to see this engagement with our students.”

The Institute of Veterinary Science is ranked fifth in the world for Veterinary Science in the 2017 QS World University Subject Rankings. For more information please visit


Top: The BSAVA Liverpool Student Conference committee. Back row, Lauren Witter, Rachel Turner, Charlotte Rutter, Jane Paddison and Becky Sedman. Front row, Chris McKay and Steph Gowing.

Middle: Dr Thomas Maddox, RCVS and European Specialist in Small Animal Diagnostic Imaging, teaching ultrasonography to final year students.

Bottom: Professor Susan Dawson speaking at the conference.