Lockdown learning: Extra donkey work for vet students during pandemic

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In a normal year, The Donkey Sanctuary’s veterinary team team would devote many hours to hands-on teaching at its state-of-the-art donkey hospital or would spend time at universities and colleges in the UK and abroad.
In a normal year, The Donkey Sanctuary’s veterinary team team would devote many hours to hands-on teaching at its state-of-the-art donkey hospital or would spend time at universities and colleges in the UK and abroad. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Veterinary students from around the world have benefited from a series of online teaching resources made available by The Donkey Sanctuary during the Covid-19 lockdown.

An initial approach from a British-based veterinary school led to help students with ‘Extra-Mural Studies’, placements to prepare them for working in clinical environments, led to the team putting together a suite of resources suitable for pre-clinical and clinical students. The resources included webinars, fact sheets, narrated power points, weblinks and case studies.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s veterinary team has always played an active role in teaching the next generation of veterinary surgeons. Alex Thiemann, Senior Veterinary Surgeon and education lead at The Donkey Sanctuary, said that in a normal year, the team would devote many hours to hands-on teaching at its state-of-the-art donkey hospital or would spend time at universities and colleges in the UK and abroad.

“It’s really important to us that we share our expert knowledge on donkey welfare and care with the next generation of veterinary professionals,” Thiemann said.

“Covid-19 means we have to work differently to deliver this support, taking our teaching online to reach thousands of students.”

Requested initially by the University of Nottingham, the free resources were subsequently shared with other leading veterinary schools in the UK. Individual students from as far away as Massey in New Zealand and Guelph in Canada have also benefited from the online resources. And thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary’s Spanish Veterinary Surgeon, Jesus Buil, teaching was even extended to students in Spain.

Some students attended seminars over Zoom led by The Donkey Sanctuary’s expert veterinary team, with the aim of gaining an understanding of how to treat donkeys and to learn about the important role they have in supporting livelihoods of 500 million people internationally.

The Donkey Sanctuary's Senior Veterinary Surgeon and education lead Alex Thiemann operating at the charity's state-of-the-art hospital.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s Senior Veterinary Surgeon and education lead Alex Thiemann operating at the charity’s state-of-the-art hospital. © The Donkey Sanctuary

“We are hugely grateful to The Donkey Sanctuary for sharing their fantastic resources and expertise,” said Professor Sarah Freeman, from the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham.

“It has been a difficult time for the students with so many opportunities and practical experiences cancelled. Being given access to a range of excellent resources and their staff’s advice and expertise, and learning more about donkeys and the amazing work that The Donkey Sanctuary does has been a real positive experience in challenging times.”

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