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Inside the WSAVA

Published: 11/13/2017

Meet Zoë Belshaw, Chair of the WSAVA CE Committee

Zoë graduated from the University of Cambridge Veterinary School in the UK in 2003 and, since then, she has worked in a range of small animal and mixed practices from charity clinics through to specialist referral centres. She holds the European Diploma in small animal internal medicine and is based at the Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine in Nottingham, UK, where she is conducting research into general practice preventative healthcare consultations. We asked her about her work and her role with the WSAVA.

For your PhD you explored how veterinarians, nurses and pet owners communicate and make decisions about common conditions in general practice. Why are you interested in this area?

I completed a PhD last year which looked at how vets and dog owners make decisions about dogs with osteoarthritis. I became fascinated in this topic, both through my own experiences of looking after an arthritic dog and because I realised during my work at a referral centre that some owners made very different decisions to those I had expected and I didn't understand why. As part of my PhD, I spent 60 hours talking to vets and owners about what they do and why, then spent about a year reviewing the data to look for explanations. Some of the work is already published with more to come. As a result of my PhD, I'm editing a new column in the Veterinary Record, which is written by owners about their experiences of having ill pets or visiting veterinary practices. It is so important that we understand what owners think, know and do so that we can support them in making the best possible decisions. Hopefully my PhD has helped demonstrate this.


How did you first become involved with the WSAVA?

I first heard about WSAVA CE from David Wadsworth, the second CE chair, in the early 2000s. At that time, I was already interested in international veterinary education following my experience as a student in the IVSA. Fast forward to 2011 and David approached me to see if I would like to help run the CE programme with the previous chair, Professor Jill Maddison. I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know that six years later I'd be CE Chair!


What does your role as Chair of the CE Committee involve?

I work with our incredible regional and local coordinators and world class speakers to ensure that WSAVA CE meetings run smoothly in countries from Albania to Zimbabwe. The program runs all year so there is always something to do. I also liaise with our sponsors, keep an eye on the budget, provide reports for this e-bulletin, liaise with the WSAVA Executive Board about the role of CE and ensure that our amazing administrator, Maggie, has everything that she needs. In 2018 I hope we can start working more closely with some of the Guideline Committees to start converting them into more accessible digital content.


What has the CE Committee achieved this year?

The CE programme in 2017 is busy with lots of meetings still to run across Europe. As I write this, CE is being delivered in Montenegro and we have speakers preparing to set off for Bulgaria and Croatia. In recent years, we have expanded the program annually and, for the first time this year, we have supported meetings in Nigeria and Morocco.


What plans do you have for 2018?

The economic climate is tough and our sponsorship may decrease next year. While a tight budget brings challenges, it also gives us an opportunity to start considering other ways of delivering CE. With the design of the new website and Vetstream as our Educational Partner, we hope to start exploring whether it is possible to produce more digital CE content in 2018. Watch this space!


How is the CE Committee’s work funded?

Most of our work is done by volunteers and without our regional and local organizers there would be no CE program. They give their time – often hundreds of hours each year – voluntarily and we are all in their debt. During 2017, the CE program has been sponsored by MSD and Bayer. Their contribution helps us to pay speaker expenses, covers the full cost of meetings in our lowest income countries and to ensure translation is available where needed elsewhere. We extend our thanks to them. We also receive sponsorship from our UK, Australian, Dutch and Norwegian member organizations (BSAVA, ASAVA, NACAM and NSAVA) for which we are very grateful. Other organizations help in other ways. For instance, the Royal Veterinary College in London encourages its speakers to donate their speaker fee to the program and the Global Veterinary Dermatology Education Group provides speakers who are happy to waive their speaker fee. If any other associations would like to support the CE program, I would love to hear from them.


How do you relax?

When I'm not working, I enjoy being outdoors, so you might find me climbing, mountaineering, walking or running. If it is raining (which is often the case in England!) I love cooking and reading. I am trying to get into yoga though I've realised I'm not very flexible. I'm also a Twitter addict - I particularly enjoy using social media as a way of sharing information with other vets and it is a great space for debates and campaigns.


Contact Zoë: Follow her on twitter: @ZotVet