It was at the beginning of March in Antwerp at the Belgian Small Animal Veterinary Congress, when I met for the last time “physically” with my friends and colleagues from all over Europe to debate, to work, to learn with each other and to enjoy each other’s company.
Until then FECAVA (Federation of European Small Animal Veterinary Associations) had (and thankfully still is….) played a huge role in enriching my life as a first opinion veterinarian working for a local community and for their pets, with that of international meetings with colleagues representing national veterinary organisations or special interest groups. The exchange of ideas and the working in committees to improve the understanding and the knowledge of all our colleagues in Europe and by this the care for our patients, had been vital to provide also my own clients and patients in Virginia Water with new treatment options, which I would not have had, if I would only have attended regional and national veterinary meetings.
This all came to a nearly complete stop with the first COVID 19 related lockdown, not only due to the restrictions of movement, but also due to the acute commercial impact the pandemic had on the veterinary businesses and teams worldwide.
Over the following months we are had to learn to adapt to alternative forms of communication with both our clients and with our colleagues. Conferences I had so looked forward to attend (and to write about…) in Slovenia, in Ukraine, in Berlin and even our joint European and World Congress in Warsaw were all cancelled and the face to face communication with my international colleagues continued to dry up.
This eventually changed at the beginning of October, when we resumed (like everyone else) our meetings online – it was great to see (thankfully) everyone again and a part of the direct interaction returned.
What was missing though was the one-to-one exchange with colleagues away from the meeting rooms. Most of them are great experts in their field or – far more importantly – are outstanding human beings and so entertaining to talk and to listen to.
When discussing this with my colleagues, we decided to start a series of unscripted, but recorded conversations which we called “FECAVA VetChat”.
We made a brilliant start with my Estonian friend Tiina Toomet, who is a well known veterinarian in the Eastern Baltic region, both as a clinic owner, as a dermatology lecturer and as a TV vet and author of several books. Finding myself once again on the other side of the kitchen table in her summer house near Tallinn, the conversation which was scheduled for 15 minutes eventually lasted nearly 2 hours (most of it eventually unrecorded….) and in two opposite corners of the continent, two bottles of wine had served their purpose……
My next guest was the amazing Ana Nemec – one of Europe’s foremost veterinary dentists and – like me – a great outdoor life enthusiast from Slovenia. Ana had been on my list to visit this year; the “Vetchat” made up for the missed opportunity to some extend…..
Next in line was a meeting with Stephan Neumann from Göttingen and Zoe Polizopoulou from Thessaloniki, who gave me an inside into Feline Vector Borne Diseases.
When watching these clips you might get a feeling why these conversations are so important (at least for me) and what we are missing, by not meeting with colleagues from other countries. But things will eventually change again……
In the meantime, why not joining me to meet more colleagues in Warsaw, in Rome, in Ghent, in Lisbon and in………..
(Please check the FECAVA FB site or website for the next “VetChat”)