Educators and practice teams take home top prizes in the 2021 Knowledge Awards - Veterinary Practice
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Educators and practice teams take home top prizes in the 2021 Knowledge Awards

RCVS Knowledge are delighted to announce their 2021 Knowledge Award winners, recognising the use of continuous quality improvement principles

This year’s Knowledge Award winners are Dr Jessica Pennock from CVS South Hub, Samantha Fontaine from The University of Glasgow, Plymouth Veterinary Group, CVS Small Animal Team and The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Nottingham (SVMS).

The charity praised all the award winners for championing the use of quality improvement (QI) methodology in their areas of work.

In addition to those from a practice setting, for the first time, applications were welcomed from undergraduate and postgraduate educators and learners who enhance the awareness and development of QI skills in the veterinary professions.

Dr Jessica Pennock from CVS South Hub was awarded as a Knowledge Champion for her outcome audit on peri-operative hypothermia. The audit was inspired after the practice purchased a warm air circulating blanket for anaesthetic procedures, prompting the team to perform a process audit to ensure that the equipment was being utilised, and an outcome audit to see if the equipment was having a positive effect on patient care and recovery. The results demonstrate what can be achieved with an accessible audit that will have a positive impact on patient welfare.

Samantha Fontaine from the University of Glasgow was awarded as a Knowledge Champion for implementation of a new course that teaches QI to veterinary nurses, including those in practice and education. For the first time, there is a QI route to achieving the RCVS Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing (CertAVN). The course covers Quality Improvement in Veterinary Nursing, Research and Evidence-based Veterinary Nursing and Developing Evidence-Based Practice through Reflection. The curriculum has equipped national and international students with the confidence and ability to apply quality improvement initiatives to their work.

Plymouth Veterinary Group (IVC Evidensia) and CVS Small Animal Team were jointly awarded Practice Champions for their separate ear cytology audits. Plymouth Veterinary Group created guidelines for performing cytology on patients presenting with ear pathology, utilising the whole teams’ skillset to improve the patient journey for a common and often persistent presentation. The application showed a bottom-up approach – increasing training, utilising RVN skills and demonstrating strong evidence that their changes led to an overall decrease in the number of antibiotics prescribed.

The Small Animal Team within CVS audited small animal ear cytology on a national scale, over a long period, resulting in an increase in diagnostic tests and a reduction in antibiotic use across a wide range of practices. One of the key outcomes of introducing this QI initiative was the widespread improvement in the knowledge and skill of vets and nurses in all stages of their careers. Their audit demonstrated strong leadership for QI initiatives and highlighted that meaningful culture change can take time.

The SVMS at the University of Nottingham was also named a Champion Team for teaching QI to undergraduate and postgraduate students. QI and evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) is integrated within the curriculum, with the SVMS being one of the first of the UK Veterinary institutions to offer postgraduate courses to veterinary surgeons, focused on both QI and EBVM and providing the only veterinary curriculum to use QI within formative assessments for undergraduates. QI and EBVM have been integrated across both their undergraduate and postgraduate curriculums, often in a novel way, which has been informed by a research-led agenda focused on the application of QI and EBVM into veterinary clinical practice. Embedding QI in the curriculum in such a comprehensive way is an important introduction for students to see the benefit that QI can bring to their future careers.

These prestigious awards are now in their third year, and the RCVS Knowledge team were delighted to receive a record number of applications. In a challenging and busy year for the professions, the commitment to QI demonstrated in all the winning applications, illustrates the everyday importance of QI in the veterinary professions.

Nine exemplary applications were awarded as Highly Commended runners up:

Three “Highly Commended – One to Watch”, were also awarded to recognise promising QI projects laying strong foundations. This title was awarded to Linnaeus post-registration education team, VetPartners Ltd and Kathrine Blackie (Linnaeus).

All applications underwent a blinded review process, which involved assessment by an expert review panel against set criteria related to excellence of care, clinical and financial effectiveness, and the application of evidence-based approaches.

Chris Gush, Executive Director of RCVS Knowledge, said, “We were very impressed with the number of high-quality applications received for the 2021 Knowledge Awards.

“Every award winner demonstrated a dedication to advancing the quality of veterinary care and we look forward to watching them continue to develop quality improvement initiatives in practice. Congratulations to all of the winners.”

Pam Mosedale, Quality Improvement Clinical Lead at RCVS Knowledge, said, “The dedication to improving the quality of patient care demonstrated by the 2021 Knowledge Award winners is inspiring and encouraging. I was particularly pleased with the number of whole-team activities, which strengthens QI in practice.

“We hope the case examples will motivate more teams to build on their QI and EBVM work and enhance patient care.”

Case examples of all this year’s winning projects will be published on the RCVS Knowledge website in early May. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to see them.

Veterinary Practice

Veterinary Practice is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, equine and practice management sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

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