Charlotte Wood

VetKind: a wellbeing community

Charlotte Wood is a newly qualified Registered Veterinary Nurse who qualified with her degree from University Centre Sparsholt in Hampshire. She is a student council member on the British Veterinary Nursing Association’s (BVNA) council and is currently undertaking her BSc top-up degree. Charlotte enjoys spending time with her dog, cat, horse and family in her spare time

On 21 November 2020 VetKind hosted its third annual online wellbeing webinar event designed and created by the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) and SkillsTree professional development, with support from the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI). It was a free virtual event for veterinary and veterinary nursing students in the UK and Ireland. On the day there were over 100 participants that attended VetKind.

VetKind is an interactive and student-led programme, looking at positive psychology and neuroscience and how this applies to being a student. They use evidence-based research and information to look at challenges that students face and provide strategies to students to try to cope with these challenges. This event comprised of lectures, as well as tasks and resources; some of which were provided prior to the event. A ‘take-home toolkit’ was also provided after the event, as well as access to the recordings of the sessions and lectures that took place during the event.

The whole event provided key information and guidance to students, whilst also keeping a fun and informal feeling. There was lots of chat from all attendees, who were involved and interactive with the discussions throughout.

This year there were three incredible speakers, Jenny Moffett, Jenny Lynden and Ru Clements, all of which provided with lectures throughout the morning, there were four lectures in total with these talks on: Building emotional agility, Finding your “yes” and “no” voice, Imposter syndrome: a coaching approach and Dealing with conflict.

The afternoon consisted of an interactive online VetKind Escape Room! These entailed students breaking out into small groups to tackle the escape rooms collectively, which enabled them to see if they could escape by working through tasks and exercises. Prior to attempting the escape room, the small groups got to know each other and explained their backgrounds – a great way of networking and getting to know your veterinary professional peers!

The ‘chatter’ throughout the event was lively and buzzing, with comments and ideas from veterinary students and veterinary nursing students combined. Common themes emerged which all students could resonate with and it was clear that many of them were feeling the same. Attendees continued to share their experiences and coping strategies throughout the day, focussing on how to cope with certain feelings and emotions; there was a real sense of community throughout the whole event. At the end of the day all attendees were asked to share the ideas, tips and practical strategies that have got them through 2020 so far. The idea voted as the ‘top tip’ by the AVS team was “Don’t waste valuable energy on people that don’t give you the same energy back”, which is something I am sure we can all relate to and take on board.

Looking ahead, a poll carried out during the event asked what topics students would like to hear from about from Mind Matters, which resulted in 68 of students asking for more about ‘managing balance in your life’.  However other themes also included: resilience (44 votes), tools for positive reflection (40 votes) and mental health awareness (27 votes).

There was an abundant sense of support for each other and positivity throughout the day,  even with the given circumstances that students are facing in these times. The event was thoroughly enjoyable throughout and from the post-event survey, 100% of participants would recommend VetKind to a friend or colleague. Personally, I could not recommend this event enough and I am very excited for the next VetKind event!

Charlotte Wood RVN, BVNA Representative

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