Profile for Pain Awareness Month: Ian Self

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Ian Self

September is Pain Awareness Month and the University of Liverpool Veterinary Alumni Association caught up with alumnus Ian Self (BVSc 1995), a European, and RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia

Ian has worked in both private practice and in several UK and Ireland universities, including head of anaesthesia positions at the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Cambridge Vet School. He is currently working as a Reader in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia at the Harper-Keele Vet School. He has a keen interest in anaesthesia of unstable patients and runs regular pain management clinics. He mentors and supervises undergraduates training to be veterinary surgeons and postgraduate students training for specialist pain qualifications. He is currently the chair of BSAVA Education Committee, vice president of the ECVAA and is very interested in evidence-based approaches to pain treatment.


Did anyone inspire you while you were a student?

I was inspired by Barrie Edwards, an amazing surgeon, a fantastic teacher but above all a humble and genuine person who had interests of all colleagues and patients at heart. Also, Ron Jones, a fierce advocate of veterinary anaesthesia.


When did you know you wanted to specialise in anaesthesia and analgesia?

I wanted to be an equine surgeon when I left Liverpool. However, I quickly realised that the management of pain, and maintaining physiology in very sick patients undergoing major surgery, was a much more rewarding career path - and with everything, the more I learnt the more I wanted to learn!


What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

You have to want to be an anaesthetist and analgesia specialist - we are often in the background and work with little recognition from clients, so a love for the job is essential. The advice I would give is to try everything in the profession first, become a good vet. Then, if like me, anaesthesia and pain relief still excite you, speak to your local anaesthesia specialist about routes into the area and ask to see practice with them - the more experience the better. The European College of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia website lists diplomates who will help, or contact me directly.


What is your top tip for your fellow alumni this Pain Awareness Month?

Sometimes it's difficult to know if a patient is actually in pain - they hide it well. To tell, give an analgesic and see if there is a change. Any change is indicative that pain may be a problem. There is virtually never a contraindication for giving analgesic drugs even to non-painful patients.


How can alumni follow what you're doing?

I can be found on LinkedIn and on the Harper Keele Vet School website.


Thank you, Ian, for helping us celebrate our alumni with careers in anaesthesia and analgesia for Pain Awareness Month.


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