From Novice to Expert: How to Master Small Animal Electrolyte and Acid-Base Disorders?

For emergency veterinarians seeking to truly master emergency and critical care topics, traditional continuing education (CE) courses, webinars, and lectures may prove to be inadequate. These conventional methods often fall short in several key aspects, hindering effective learning and retention. Over the last 15 years, I have attended dozens of CE events and watched hundreds of hours of webinars, only to realize a week later that I can recall 5-10% of this information. Have you ever felt that way?

Let’s explore the limitations of these approaches and why a fresh, innovative approach is essential for true mastery.

  1. Boredom and Lengthy Sessions: Conventional CE events tend to be lengthy, spanning several hours, or even days while individual sessions usually last 30 to 60 minutes. Sitting through monotonous lectures can lead to boredom and mental fatigue, making it challenging to stay focused and absorb complex information.
  2. Lack of Active Learning: Passive learning dominates traditional CE formats, with little room for active engagement. Merely listening to lectures or reading slides doesn’t encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, or practical application. Active learning is crucial for understanding and retaining information effectively (Konopka et al. 2015).
  3. Low Retention Rates: Studies have shown that the passive nature of conventional CE events results in low retention rates (Hake et al. 1998). Veterinarians may remember only a mere 5-10% of the material presented through lectures or webinars. Such low retention limits the potential to apply newly acquired knowledge in real-world emergency situations.
  4. Lack of Expert Feedback and Community: When it comes to mastering a new topic in emergency medicine, expert feedback and a supportive community play crucial roles in enhancing the learning experience and ensuring long-term retention of knowledge. The absence of these components can significantly impair the learning process and hinder the development of expertise.

In the fall of 2022, I contacted 50 emergency veterinarians from all over the world to inquire about the topics they would like to master, to improve their patient care and level of emergency medicine. Here are the 4 top areas of emergency and critical care medicine that responders were most interested in (they were allowed to choose multiple options):

  1. Electrolyte and Acid-Base disorders – 65% of responders
  2. ECG analysis – 55% of responders
  3. Shock diagnosis and management – 55% of responders
  4. Neonatal, pediatric and reproductive emergencies – 40% of responders

Since acid-base and electrolyte disorders are near and dear to my heart and it was the most commonly requested topic, I have decided to focus on this topic first.

The Path to True Mastery: The “Small Animal Electrolyte and Acid-Base Mastery” Certificate Course

To address the shortcomings of conventional CE, the “Small Animal Electrolyte and Acid-Base Mastery” certificate course adopts a progressive and engaging learning approach designed to ensure true mastery of the subject matter.

  1. Short, Focused Content: We understand the value of your time as an emergency veterinarian. Our course features bite-sized video segments (3-15 minutes), allowing you to learn at your own pace. These concise lessons maintain your attention and facilitate better information absorption.
  2. Active Learning Components: Active learning is at the core of our course. Engage in thought-provoking case scenarios that simulate real-life emergencies and quizzes that not only challenge your comprehension but also reinforce your knowledge by providing explanations for incorrect answers chosen. Benefit from personalized instructor feedback, ensuring you grasp the material thoroughly.
  3. Collaborative Community: Learning extends beyond the classroom. Our course provides a vibrant community platform where you can interact with peers and the instructor. Share your own cases, discuss challenges, and exchange insights, fostering continuous learning and professional growth.
  4. Obtain credit hours (CE credits) to fulfill your veterinary license requirements while enjoying the added benefit of writing off the course cost as a business expense.
  5. Emergency Electrolyte and Acid-Base Calculator: Experience unparalleled efficiency and accuracy in emergency veterinary care with our revolutionary Excel-based calculator. Now, you can swiftly calculate potassium, sodium, phosphorous, magnesium supplementation rates, and perform comprehensive acid-base analysis in just seconds. Designed with emergency vets in mind, this user-friendly tool empowers you to make critical decisions with confidence, even in high-pressure situations. Say goodbye to time-consuming searches and hello to instant, reliable results. Elevate your practice and provide top-notch patient care with this essential Excel-based calculator.

Author: Igor Yankin

Igor is the creator of He is a clinical assistant professor of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Medicine at the Texas A&M University.

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