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An introduction to Wikivet – a new and exciting veterinary educational resource

In the spirit of spreading helpful, good quality veterinary knowledge, VetHelpDirect will be working with Wikivet to bring you specially selected gems of educational material from the Wikivet website. The plan is to publish a regular Wikivet-sponsored blog, with information and links to the subject under discussion.

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What is Wikivet? Wikivet is an international collaborative effort between vet schools around the world, with the long term aim of placing the entire veterinary curriculum in an online database. The principle is similar to Wikipedia, but the theme is purely veterinary knowledge. The goal of the project is to enable students around the world to have ongoing, free access an up-to-date encyclopedia of all veterinary knowledge. You can read more about Wikivet on Wikipedia  or you can visit the site yourself. WikiVet was established in 2007 by a consortium of three UK veterinary schools (The Royal Veterinary College in London, , the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh and the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University ). It has grown to include over ten additional associated academic institutions, as well as forming a close association with parts of the commercial veterinary sector. The WikiVet project is now part of the WikiVet Educational Foundation, a registered charity which was established in February 2015. A commercial trading company is also being established to provide an opportunity for the charity to trade, in order to support its core educational activities. WikiVet now has a registered user base of over 44,000 members (a growth of over 1,000/month) of whom about 60% are veterinary students from over 90 countries around the world. The site recorded over 2 million individual visits in the academic year 2014-15 (a 100% increase on the previous year). The organisation has an active student ambassador scheme in over 50 veterinary schools around the world. These ambassadors have a key role in promoting educational resources and initiatives to colleagues. The charity works closely with the International Veterinary Students Association to identify suitable representatives in each vet school. Wikivet provides an extensive knowledge base of online resources which has been developed based on feedback from veterinary educators and focus groups of learners. The site now has over 5,000 pages of detailed content making it the largest online veterinary educational resource. A recently signed agreement with Vetstream provides preferential access to students accessing Vetstream content through the WikiVet site. This development significantly enhances the content on offer to students. WikiVet is now collaborating closely with a number of commercial partners to develop new content sections of the site. This includes Mars Petcare who have sponsored the development of extensive sections on small animal density and nutrition and Ceva Animal Health who have supported sections on Feline Behaviour. Who is Wikivet's target  audience? Wikivet has four key target groups: 1) Vet and vet nurse students - this is the primary group, with most visitors to the site from students 2) Vets who want to keep up to date with new knowledge. Vets are generally good at keeping up to date with new developments via journals and conferences, but in the future, it will be useful for vets to cast a glance at what vet students are currently being taught 3) Vet nurses who are looking for extra ways of learning: although Wikivet has the entire veterinary curriculum as its core, there are many aspects of veterinary nursing that are included. 4) Informed members of the public are also welcome to browse Wikivet. Only veterinary professionals are allowed to become registered users, but much of the content is open to all. Registered users can access specialised learning tools, and other teaching-based content, but the public will find that there is a great deal of helpful information to help them understand issues and illnesses with their own pets. The dream is that Wikivet will become the standard go-to online resource for veterinary education in the future. Watch this space, and enjoy the Wikivet blogs.
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