Steph Prior, one of the RVC’s Senior Clinical Training Scholars (Residents), is based at Torch Vets, which spans Devon and Cornwall. The residencies are practice-based as much as possible to offer maximum exposure to a wide range of cases in areas of high cattle density. Steph told Clinical Connections about her residency experience.
In July 2020 I started a new European College of Bovine Health Management (ECBHM) residency programme, which was established as a joint venture between the RVC and Torch Farm Vets (a large independent practice located in North Devon). Before this I had worked in a large commercial farm practice in the South West since graduating from the RVC (in July 2015).
I completed a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice with the University of Liverpool and a Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Education at the RVC during my first five years in practice – and was looking for a new challenge. The mix of clinical practice, academic study, teaching and research felt like a good challenge.
Torch Farm Vets has a strong history of working with the RVC’s farm department. The practice has formed tracking options for final year rotations students since 2017 and currently hosts up to 40 students each year. Torch also hosts final year veterinary students from the University of Glasgow.
Torch have hosted Interns from the RVC for several years, giving newly graduated vets a strong introduction into farm clinical practice. The support given to their interns, enabling them to balance their clinical and academic requirements, made me feel that the practice would be well placed to support a residency. The practice is large, with over 20 full-time farm animal vets – in addition to TB Testers and Veterinary Technicians – and covers a diverse range of farming enterprises. This range of extensive beef production to intensive large scale dairy farming allows for a varied caseload.
The academic support for the residency comes from the RVC production animal team. I have a primary and secondary supervisor who are both ECBHM diplomats. Regular meetings, either in person or online, allows for good quality case discussion, which improves my practice and supports my research interests.
Completing the residency within the RVC team allows me access to the full support offered residents, including a journal club, which helps to improve my analytical journal reading as well as providing a good base for the ECBHM exams. The fortnightly journal club also includes the farm interns, who present cases that they’ve seen in practice for discussion by the wider RVC team, giving us all a chance to consider a wide range of clinical situations.
As well as mentoring students during their placements with the Torch team, I also regularly attend the Hawkshead Campus to help with the farm animal husbandry and handling teaching as well as invigilating practical exams. Coming onto site means that I can feel part of both the RVC and Torch teams, despite not living physically close.
The RVC resident team has expanded during my time and there are now five ECBHM residents training within the RVC. We have started to arrange meetings between the sites to allow for case presentation and farm walks, as well as social events to bring the team together.
When I started, I was apprehensive about being the first person through a new programme but the support of both the RVC and Torch Farm vets has made this a success. I have really enjoyed learning new skills and developing across the last two years.
The RVC Production Animal Residencies are based at a number of settings and are open to vets holding a degree registrable with the RCVS. They are three-year postgraduate programmes involving supervised clinical work and applied clinical research. Residents receive specialised training in the relevant discipline and sit examinations for membership of the relevant specialty boards. Residents are also be enrolled on the RVC Master of Veterinary Medicine (MVetMed) programme.