How to Identify Your Veterinary Learning Style (and Make It Work For You!)

Visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinesthetic? Discover your veterinary learning style in our useful article and make it work for you.

So you’ve been to university to learn the theory behind being a vet or a nurse. You’ve gained valuable practical experience through your on-the-job training. And now it’s time to embark on your own continuing education journey, and part of that is discovering your veterinary learning style.

By now, it could be said that you’ve already discovered your own learning style that has accompanied you throughout your studies. However, this is not always the case. It’s also possible that your learning style has changed or developed over time.

There are several distinct learning styles, and one approach is not necessarily superior to the other. The key is to find out what learning style works best for you and then use it to your advantage. Not everyone learns in the same way and that’s okay! In fact, it’s great because it means that educators need to develop different types of content to cater to those with different learning styles.

The VARK model is one way to categorise learning styles. Learning styles can be broadly categorised into four main types: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Let’s examine each one in more detail, and as we go, offer you some suggestions on where to go to study veterinary-related topics.

 

 

Visual Learners

 

veterinary learning style visual learners

 

Visual learners as your veterinary learning style often prefer to learn by seeing things written down or represented in diagrams. If you’re a visual learner, you might find it helpful to create mind maps or to take notes when you’re learning something new. You’re probably very familiar with a whiteboard and a set of coloured markers!

When learning a new protocol or studying a disease process, you might find it helpful to create picture cards with the topic on one side and notes or a diagram representing the information on the other.

If you’re looking for veterinary continuing education courses, consider signing up for webinars or online courses that include PowerPoint presentations, diagrams, and infographics. These visuals will help supplement the audio component of the learning experience and cater towards visual learners. For the latest emergency and critical care webinars, and other useful visual resources, we recommend visiting the continuing education section on VetAPedia.

 

Auditory Learners

 

veterinary learning style auditory learners

 

Auditory learners often learn most effectively by listening to things. This veterinary learning style could involve listening to audio recordings, podcasts, or attending lectures. If you’re an auditory learner, you might find it helpful to record yourself reading out your notes or to listen to podcasts on the subject you’re trying to learn about.

Auditory learners also cement the information in their brains by verbalising what they’ve learned out loud. So, next time you’re trying to learn a new concept or research a topic, try reading them out loud or saying them to yourself as you write them down. You could also try to grab a friend or colleague (or even a pet!) and explain what you’ve learned to them.

There are many veterinary continuing education courses offered in the form of webinars and podcasts. These learning resources are ideal for auditory learners as they provide the opportunity to listen to experts discussing various topics while also having the ability to pause, rewind, and review parts that weren’t fully understood the first time around. For example, the podcast series The Vet Vault features interviews with well-known veterinarians from all across Australia and overseas. Topics covered on The Vet Vault Podcast include clinical cases, business management, and new technology.

 

Reading/Writing Learners

 

veterinary learning style reading writing learners

 

Reading/writing learners often prefer to learn by reading texts or writing things down – chances are you had to do quite a lot of this at uni. If you’re a reading/writing learner and this is your preferred veterinary learning style, you might find it helpful to take notes when learning new information, and reading textbooks, journal articles or even protocols related to the topic you’re trying to learn about may help. It’s likely that you’ll find it helpful to summarise what you’ve read in your own words.

When learning new veterinary topics or studying for qualifications like a membership, you might find it useful to review detailed textbooks or journal articles and then condense them by writing them down in a notebook. Similar to visual learners, you could also try creating flashcards with the topic on one side and the key points and more detailed information on the other.

If you’re looking for veterinary continuing education courses, consider signing up for online courses or webinars that offer course materials in the form of PDFs or other digital resources. These will help to provide you with the written materials you need to supplement the audio and visual components of the learning experience. For example, many of the resources on VetAPedia include downloadable reference materials that can be used during and after your studies.

 

Kinesthetic Learners

 

veterinary learning style kinesthetic learners

 

Kinesthetic learners often prefer to learn by doing things or by moving around – this is a common veterinary learning style among those with an aptitude for surgery. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you might find it helpful to take part in hands-on learning activities or to take frequent breaks when you’re studying. You might also find that you learn best when you can link the new information to something that you’re already familiar with.

The veterinary professional is constantly developing new practical skills. When learning the newest surgical procedures, kinesthetic learners often benefit from watching videos or step-by-step guides as well as having access to real-life materials that they can handle and manipulate. For example, attending workshops that allow surgical techniques to be performed on a cadaver prior to moving onto a live patient.

This might involve scrubbing in with a colleague or getting hands on during CPD workshops. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you might find it helpful to create a learning journal where you document your learning process as you go along.

We recommend contacting a local veterinary hospital (if you don’t already have access to one) and offering to shadow a colleague, until you’re able to experiment and learn by doing. This learning style often benefits from having a mentor who can provide guidance and support as you’re learning new things. You could always offer to volunteer or undertake an internship, so you’re able to get some hands-on experience in the area you’re interested in.

 

So, how can you find out your learning style? Here are some tips:

 

  • Pay attention to how you study and learn best. Do you prefer visual aids such as charts and diagrams or do you prefer learning through listening to audio recordings?
  • Take a learning styles quiz. When you complete the quiz, it may suggest even more resources to help you along your continuing education journey.
  • Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about their learning styles and see if any of them resonate with you.

 

Once you have identified your learning style, it’s time to put it into action! Here are some tips on how to make your learning style work for you:

 

If you’re a visual learner…

 

Try using mind maps or creating charts and diagrams to help you understand and remember new information. Buy yourself a whiteboard and some coloured markers, if you don’t already own any, and section your learning into bite-sized chunks. Take a video of yourself explaining what you’ve learned or talk about it to someone else so you can review it later to solidify your knowledge.

 

If you’re an auditory learner…

 

Try listening to podcasts or audio recordings of lectures and seminars. You could also try attending live events such as webinars or conferences. Animal Emergency Australia and VetAPedia have a full list of free webinars you can attend to learn about different topics in emergency and critical care.

 

If you’re a kinesthetic learner…

 

If you’re a kinesthetic learner, try learning through hands-on activities such as internships, volunteering, or shadowing a colleague or someone in the field. You might also find it helpful to take frequent breaks when learning new information and to link the new information to something that you already know.

No matter what your learning style is, there are plenty of ways to make it work for you! Just remember to be patient with yourself and to experiment with different learning methods until you find the ones that work best for you. And once you’ve discovered your veterinary learning style, explore our tips on finding the time for continuing veterinary education and getting the most out of your CPD.

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