My Humble Beginnings with Ultrasound TrainingAug 10, 2023
Meet Dr. Camilla Edwards: Your Peripatetic Veterinary Ultrasonographer
Hi, I'm Dr. Camilla Edwards, a peripatetic veterinary ultrasonographer based in beautiful Cambridgeshire, England.
I'm truly passionate about first opinion level small animal veterinary ultrasound, and you'll often find me on the move within a 50-mile radius of Cambridge, scanning at various practices. Oh, and let me introduce my adorable sidekick, Pippi - she's my loyal Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. The perfect companion during my ultrasound travels and a willing practice dog for me, my fellow vets, and nurses.
Introducing Pippi: The Loyal Sidekick on Ultrasound Travels
The Beginning of My Veterinary Journey and Love for Small Animal Surgery
My veterinary journey started in Copenhagen in 2006, where I graduated from before I moved back to the UK to first of all work in mixed practice. After a couple of years I immersed myself in small animal practice around East Anglia and it was during this time that I fell in love with small animal surgery and procedures.
But let me take you back to the beginning of my journey with ultrasound – I was not born knowing how to do this!
My Humble Beginnings with Ultrasound Training
About 20 years ago, at university (KVL, Copenhagen), a group of 25 keen vet students (including myself) gathered around a diagnostic imaging specialist who was sat between an ultrasound machine and a cat (although I could not see through the crowd to confirm the species they were scanning). We saw a grey, speckled image supposed to be a left kidney on the distant screen.
That was all the ultrasound training I received at university, and I don't think my experience is unusual for a vet who qualified in the mid-2000s.
In my first few jobs, other vets were interested in ultrasound, so all the cases went to them. It didn't really bother me at the time as I had numerous other things to think about and learn without focusing on ultrasound as well.
Mastering Veterinary Ultrasound: Overcoming Challenges and Imposter Syndrome
A few years later, I started night shifts and was the sole vet in charge. I very quickly realised that in emergencies, picking up an ultrasound probe and interpreting what appeared on the screen might actually be a beneficial skill to have.
Unfortunately, at this stage of my career, imposter syndrome had well and truly kicked in. I believed I'd never be able to figure out all those buttons, I'd heard the probe was really expensive (heaven forbid I dropped it), and how was I meant to understand what I was looking at on the screen?
Unlocking the Potential of Ultrasound in My Career
After moving to Cambridge for my husband's work and a growing family, I decided to do locum work. During this period, an encounter with an out-of-hours vet ignited a desire to pursue a new career path that would better fit my life. I was eager to find fulfilment and value in my profession, so I secured a position in emergency and critical care which I did for over 8 years and in 2018, I achieved my CertAVP.
Working long night shifts exposed me to the world of ultrasound, and eventually, I plucked up the courage to give it a go - I picked up the probe! I quickly developed both the skills and passion for it, so I decided to set myself up as a peripatetic ultrasonographer. It worked for me professionally and personally.
Addressing Challenges in Veterinary Ultrasound
As a veterinary peripatetic ultrasonographer, I know the challenges many people face when using ultrasound. Crippled with uncertainty about how to use an ultrasound machine, as well as a lack of confidence. Embarrassed by an inability to identify the images on the screen and a lack of time to practice.
There are likely a large number of veterinarians who have never touched an ultrasound probe before, despite being aware of the benefits gained from using one - if only they knew how.
There are also a lot of veterinarians who are familiar with ultrasound but don't feel comfortable enough to use it routinely.
These barriers prevent so many good veterinary professionals from utilising the true potential of ultrasound to enhance diagnosis and save a patient's life!
Empowering Veterinary Professionals with FOVU
Fueled with this knowledge and a deep desire to shine a light on the benefits of ultrasound, I decided to put my knowledge and experience to good use and established First Opinion Veterinary Ultrasound (FOVU) in April 2018.
First Opinion Veterinary Ultrasound equips veterinary professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to increase their confidence and accuracy when using ultrasound. By providing in-practice training, online ultrasound courses, free resources, ultrasound machine reviews, and more, it is my goal to educate and support first opinion small animal vets so that ultrasound feels less scary.
The Thriving Growth of FOVU: A Journey of Success
I must admit, sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by the rapid flourishing of my business within such a short span of time. From ultrasound companies seeking independent equipment reviews, to hosting webinars for Clarius, Celtic SMR and UnivetsGlobal, engaging in podcast interviews, and participating in events like BSAVA and the London Vet Show, the journey has been nothing short of astonishing. Add to that a thriving Facebook group, online courses catering to vets and nurses, and a wait-list for my in-practice teaching sessions - it's all just unbelievable!
Yet, this reality also fuels my determination to improve. It remains evident that this aspect of our profession requires more support, with too many people having a lack of awareness of ultrasound machines, unsure what probe to use, and confused by poor images.
Focusing on Intensive Support and Hands-on Training
When I established FOVU, the primary and ongoing focus of my courses has been on providing training that gives intensive support over a period of time so you can implement what you've learned straight away.
Give good demonstrations of how to scan specific organs, so you feel prepared when faced with new cases.
Show what important pathology to look out for so you have a clear idea of what normal looks like!
And to make all this affordable, so you can get your annual CPD and CE credits easily.
Everyone in our profession deserves to use ultrasound confidently - it’s an essential skill that can be lifesaving, and guess what…FUN TOO!
The Future of FOVU: Simplifying and Supporting the Profession
So, what lies ahead for me and FOVU? Well, my mind is always buzzing with new ideas (much to the amusement of my team) on how I can simplify and support our profession with ultrasound, making it less scary, more accessible, and ultimately enjoyable to learn.
Having experienced firsthand the pressures of our profession and juggling a busy home life with a GP for a husband, three girls, and an ever-growing number of pets, I understand how challenging it can be to find the physical and mental space to add another commitment like a course to your life. However, I firmly believe that learning is a lifelong journey, and it should never end. Continuous learning is the key to progress.
And that's precisely what I aim to achieve with FOVU. I will keep learning from those who have entrusted me with their ultrasound learning journey, as well as drawing from my own experiences. This way, I can consistently and reliably be a source of support for all things related to veterinary ultrasound.
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I hope you’ll join me for the ride.