My name is Natalie Maxwell, I’m a second year Veterinary Nursing Student at Edinburgh Napier University.  I successfully applied to be part of the expedition to Kerala in November 2015.   To help me pay for the trip I applied for the Student Santander Mobility Grant through Edinburgh Napier Student Initiative scheme and amazingly received £750 towards personal accommodation, vaccines and a visa.

If any of my friends were asked to describe what I enjoy most in life, travelling the world and helping animals would, without a doubt, be top of the list! I am a confident traveler having previously experienced multiple developing countries first hand. I feel this will put me in good stead for India where the climate, sanitation and home comforts are a huge contrast to the UK. Travelling has taught me to be open minded, aware of my surroundings, compassionate and to keep hydrated! It has opened my eyes to the vast difference in priority of animal welfare between countries, often due to poverty, ultimately fueling my drive to improve animal welfare however I can.

My enthusiasm for the expedition is greatly influenced by my ambition to apply for a postgraduate degree in animal welfare overseas upon completion of my Honours degree. Going to Kerala is an opportunity that will be the basis and ideally a springboard for my own career development, whilst allowing the UK veterinary nurses’ role to evolve and be recognised as a worldwide profession by sharing my experience. Furthermore, it will allow self exploration, personal growth and a real, exciting sense of achievement. The trip to Kerala veterinary hospital will build my confidence on teaching others within a first hand learning experience in another contrasting society, while testing my problem solving skills when adapting to the environment or facilities.

Our visit should make the Indian veterinary team recognise the veterinary nurse as a vital role in the maintenance of a functional veterinary hospital. By passing on our expertise over the past two years of training, we will help the Indian veterinary technicians underpin the basic but essential care of patients, clinical skills and handling. This will allow them the chance to pass their knowledge gained on to others to hopefully motivate change, be it patient care or Indian nursing career development. We can introduce them to the five freedoms framework and how to achieve these by making use of the limited facilities or recycling to work with financial constraints, subsequently benefitting patient welfare and quality of life, either by minimal suffering or environmental enrichment. We can teach the veterinary team about the mutual benefit of animal welfare, for example, if simple patient care is improved then there will be a higher success rate of patient recovery.

This trip to teach in Kerala veterinary hospital will allow me to evolve as a person, boost my professional career assets and challenge me emotionally and professionally. My enthusiasm for animal welfare is conveyed in all aspects of my life, solidifying my commitment to exceed to be the best veterinary nurse I can be, whilst educating others along the way.

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