Lilyan Mathai on being a VMX-AFSCAN scholar

Lilyan Mathai

How is the KESCAVA helping to develop small animal practice?

We work hard to meet the demands of practitioners by tailoring continuing education to what they need and want. So far, we have run a number of successful training events with the help of our partners – the African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) – which have supported us from the start.

What is AFSCAN?

AFSCAN is a project that’s run by the WSAVA Foundation. Apart from offering valuable teaching support, it gives our members access to VetFolio, an online learning resource.

It also provides a scholarship that allows some members to attend the annual British Small Animal Veterinary Association congress or the North American congress, VMX, in Orlando. It works with Mission Rabies to run rabies vaccination programmes and is helping us obtain secondhand IT equipment through the Computers4Africa charity.

AFSCAN supports small animal clinical research in Africa too, by providing research grants and scholarships. We are looking to collaborate even more widely to build KESCAVA into the leading CPD provider in our region of Africa.

What did being a VMX-AFSCAN scholar involve?

Basically it meant that I could attend VMX in Florida this year on an expenses paid trip. I attended lectures and a wet lab and met North American Veterinary Community and WSAVA board members. Meeting vets and vet nurses from around the world clearly demonstrated the camaraderie that exists in our profession. And, because the conference was held in a large venue, getting around gave me a good cardio workout too!

What did you enjoy most and what did you learn?

It was a large event and the social interactions were memorable. I discovered that we all face similar work-based challenges, regardless of continental divides.

I also learnt that professional wellness is better catered for in the USA than in Kenya. We need to develop a programme for Africa. It is important for associations to cater for their members’ wellbeing, not just their clinical training.

What did you learn from the wet labs?

Dealing with wounds is a big part of my day-to-day practice and I find them a challenge. No two wounds are alike and treating them has taught me patience and persistence. Learning new techniques has definitely improved my practice, for which I’m especially grateful.

Do you put what you learned into practice?

Yes, I manage some cases differently now. This means that patients may have a shorter recovery time and are more comfortable, which makes our clients happier.

What are your plans for the future of KESCAVA?

We are at the early stage of introducing a wellness programme and we want to include wet lab sessions in our education programme, to boost knowledge and skills uptake. At VMX, I was able to renew our links with sponsors, veterinary colleagues and associations globally, so we now have more support – the future looks bright.

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