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IKEA Richmond helps our Veterinary Nursing students with at-home learning

Many animal plushies placed on metal tables
Donated soft toys from IKEA for our Vet Nursing students

There are inevitable challenges when it comes to ‘hands-on’ learning in our current climate. Our Veterinary Nursing students have been remote learning for some time and making the most of this unique learning environment.

A weekend trip to IKEA Richmond for our Veterinary Nursing Head of Program Dr Meg Dietze became the ideal place to find some unlikely ‘patients’. We’ll let Dr Meg tell you more here…

The Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing is a degree which was developed by Melbourne Polytechnic, accredited by La Trobe University, and is delivered by Melbourne Polytechnic through a partnership agreement with La Trobe University.

The SBVN team has been working hard to think of ways in which we can help the students learn hands-on skills as much as possible from home, whilst their clinical placements and hands on learning opportunities are decreased due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the creative ideas that we came up with, was for each SBVN student to be given an IKEA soft toy dog to use as a model at home to learn, practice and gain feedback on a range of clinical skills, under the guidance of SBVN staff on Zoom.

We decided that the 63cm IKEA soft toy Bernese Mountain Dogs would suit this purpose beautifully. However, we discovered that IKEA had sadly stopped producing this particular line, but, that there were some still remaining at the IKEA Richmond store. As part of our desperate efforts to get the few remaining dogs, my daughter and I dashed in the car to IKEA in Richmond on a Saturday afternoon, and made a mountain of every Bernese Mountain Dog that we could find on the shop floor

As we were leaving, IKEA manager Emma came up and asked why we had a trolley overflowing with soft toy dogs. I explained about the challenges the SBVN students were facing to their hands on practical clinical learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we were hoping to use the IKEA dogs to help the students have an opportunity to learn and practice many clinical skills at home.  

Emma thought this was fabulous, and kindly helped organise for me to purchase the remaining Bernese Mountain dogs that were in storage at the store, and offered for them to be delivered to my home for free the next day.

While there still wouldn’t be enough for all the SBVN students, this did mean that there would be now be enough for every first year student to have one J, and a few left over for staff to use to demonstrate a range of skills to the students via Zoom

Once we had left the store, Emma called to let me know that she had spoken with a marketing manager, and they loved what we were doing, and had decided to donate 50 small golden soft toy puppies to further help with the students’ learning.

Once the dogs were delivered on the Sunday, my son and I squeezed them all into the car, and drove them to Kylie’s place; Kylie is our expert veterinary nurse clinical skills laboratory coordinator.

The next stage of the puppies’ adventure was crammed into Kylie’s car to the Epping campus, where Kylie got to work preparing the puppies for the final leg of their journey to their new homes.

Whilst there were not enough puppies or Burnese Mountain dogs for the 2nd and 3rd year students, they shouldn’t feel too sad, as, Jyothi has ordered a large golden soft toy dog for each student.

In the lead up to Semester 2, Kylie will be ordering and then putting together a kit for each SBVN student, which will include a range of disposable clinical materials. These will allow each student the opportunity to practice a range of year level appropriate clinical skills at home. This wonderful human being has also offered to act as a courier to deliver to each student doorstep throughout Melbourne, their new IKEA canine and kit!

We would like to say a huge thank you to IKEA Richmond, for donating the puppies to Melbourne Polytechnic for the Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing students, and to the fabulous Kylie Smith, for all her hard work and for always going above and beyond for our students.

Find out more about our Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing here