A few weeks ago I came across a free online course called “EdiVet: Do you have what it takes to become a veterinarian?” My first thought was that this would be a bit gimmicky, but once I saw it was made by the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies I reconsidered. I’d never done an online course before and it at least looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.
The EdiVet course is a Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC) hosted by Coursera. MOOCs seem to be gaining popularity and if this one is anything to go on, I can see why. I was impressed with the quality of the materials and how engaging it was for a course made up entirely of videos, some reading and quizzes. Like many MOOCs it’s also free unless you want a certificate of completion, which sounds good to me!
Although you can complete the course at your own pace it was broken down into 5 weekly lessons. The basic animal care section in week 1 was a good consolidation of what I’ve seen on my work experience and added in a number of creatures I’ve not been able to work with in the flesh. It had a great broad coverage of companion animal care, rabbits, exotics, cattle, sheep and horses. I’ve often found that on placements things are explained to me in practice as isolated examples and these videos really helped cover off the theory behind some of the animal husbandry I’ve learned about.
Body systems anatomy (week 2) covered gross anatomy, histology, systems anatomy, comparative anatomy and pathology. This section featured videos of live animals and dissections to assist learning and was definitely one of my favourites, especially the cardiovascular anatomy. The veterinary professional skills section (week 3) was also interesting, looking at topics such as business structure, emotional intelligence, how clients choose a practice and the Calgary-Cambridge consult model. I particularly liked the structure of the penultimate week, An Introduction to Clinical Skills, as it explained everyday veterinary skills such as taking a respiratory rate and set video-based exercises to test you. It’s a far cry from real hands-on learning but I enjoying having a go and was able to practice the observational parts on my own pets later.
The final week covered The Past, Present and Future of Veterinary Medicine. I was interested to learn about how diseases such as rinderpest drove veterinary science forwards and touching on One Health. Part of this section looked at the history of the Edinburgh school specifically so may be less relevant if (like me) you don’t intend to apply there, but it was still interesting.
Overall if you have a few hours spare in the evenings to learn a little more about the veterinary profession I’d recommend doing the course. I don’t think it’s going to make or break my application but that’s not what it was designed for. Each week is a great topic overview and can set you off on your own further research. I’m a big MOOC convert too and have just signed up for a second course – Coursera have quite a few which look relevant to would-be vets, such as on meat production and dairy management – so I’d definitely say go and check out what’s available!