Matt and Elsbeth take trip to Thailand to boost their skills

Matt and Elsbeth take trip to Thailand to boost their skills

GRADUATE vets Elsbeth Carter and Matthew Edwards have returned home from a trip to Thailand where they gained a unique clinical experience to sharpen up their neutering skills.

Elsbeth and Matthew were offered the chance to take part in an Animal Birth Control surgical training course in Thailand.

The pair work at Acorn Veterinary Centre, part of Willows Veterinary Group in the Wirral, Merseyside, and are both enjoying their first practice roles which they started alongside the VetPartners Graduate Programme in the summer of 2022.

The 12-day trip, which was funded by VetPartners, was based at the International Training Centre (ITC) in Thailand and was organised by the World Veterinary Service, a charity dedicated to raising the global standard of animal care by training young veterinary professionals.

Vet Matthew Edwards alongside an eleplant
Pictured: Vet Matthew Edwards on a visit to an elephant sanctuary during the trip

One of the most common problems that the charity works to deal with is rabies, which is an endemic problem in the country because of an overpopulation of stray and community dogs who carry the disease. Rabies is a fatal disease, thought of as the world’s deadliest, and it is threatening both animal and human health in the country.

The training course Elsbeth and Matthew took part in was focused on the importance of surgical dog population control with the aim to reduce stray dog populations by 70%. It is hoped that by doing so, this would also help prevent rabies from spreading.

People in Thailand had been giving out over-the-counter contraceptives to dogs in their own attempt to reduce the population of strays, however this had caused a relatively high proportion of complications in the dogs such as infections of the uterus.

Matthew said: “Although we had both been in clinical practice for a year before our trip, we thought the trip would be an excellent way to gain further surgical experience and we could then share what we learnt with our colleagues back in the UK.

“A typical day for us involved four surgeries split between performing surgery and monitoring anaesthesia.

“The anaesthetic protocols in Thailand differed to the ones we have in the UK. For example, there was a lack of multi-parameter equipment which is used to monitor a patient’s response. This is equipment we would typically use at our practice back in the UK so we thought it not being available would pose an initial difficulty.

“However, the team at the training centre taught us how to do the procedure in such a skilful way that patient outcomes almost mirrored what they would have been if they were performed in the UK with the added equipment, demonstrating just how talented the team at the centre in Thailand are.”

Elsbeth said: “We also found that the dogs had a much better body condition score compared to those in the UK which made surgery at the training centre much easier as it reduces anaesthetic time and intra-operative complications. This further highlighted the obesity problem in the UK – something that vets and nurses at Acorn have been tackling head on with our Willows Weight Watchers programme.

“Working for a while in Thailand has made me appreciate the high standards of facilities and working conditions that we have at our practice. But with that being said, the team at the International Training Centre do truly incredible work despite this.”

Rob Williams, VetPartners Head of Talent said: “The trip was a really unique opportunity for the young vets as the experience offered on the training course is almost impossible to replicate in practice and is an excellent chance to develop surgical skills and confidence.”

Whilst in Thailand, Matthew and Elsbeth also were able to immerse themselves in the local culture, visiting markets, an elephant sanctuary and Buddhist temples as well as trying various tasty dishes.

Matthew added: “We’re both so grateful to have had the opportunity to do some work experience in Thailand. It was a really insightful trip and has definitely allowed us to develop our surgical skills and confidence.”