Final Year Reflection

Reflective practice is a highly relevant and important attribute to possess, especially within the Bioveterinary Science sector. Reflection has been defined as “a metacognitive process that occurs before, during and after situations with the purpose of developing a greater understanding of both the self and the situation so that future encounters with the situation are informed from previous encounters” (Sandars, 2009). This definition allows contextualisation regarding what has been learnt during a specific encounter or period of time to help with further developments, both personally and professionally. The process allows the identification of strengths and weaknesses, therefore improving the ability to carry out certain tasks to a higher quality whilst also encouraging ongoing learning and continuing professional development (CPD) (Harrison et al., 2003; Koshy et al., 2017). Throughout my industrial work placement I believe that I have achieved a large array of skills that have allowed me to develop not only as a person, for example through improving my confidence and communication skills, but also professionally through being introduced to an imperative agricultural sector with many applications to the veterinary sector, the food industry and also to the Bioveterinary Science sector, to promote health and welfare.


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Figure 1: Gibbs (1988) Reflective Cycle


Throughout this reflection, the Gibbs Reflective Cycle will be used. Figure 1 shows the model developed by Gibbs in 1988 which encourages 6 steps of reflection and action, with the final step feeding into the first for the cycle to continue again (Mondal, 2016). The model is unique due to the fact it incorporates the knowledge gained, actions, emotions and encourages the repetition of experiences, thus making it different to Kolb’s reflective model (Kolb, 1984). In addition to this, the cycle is also more detailed, consequently making it more comprehensive.


Throughout my industrial work placement, I have been working on an outdoor pig farm in Caythorpe, Lincolnshire with F L Pigs Ltd between the months of September 2019 and May 2020. Whilst there, I carried out a large range of tasks, including feeding, vaccinating, artificial insemination (AI) and assisting with difficult farrowing’s. Furthermore, alongside the everyday tasks, those relating to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, especially with regards to the piglets was extremely interesting and has been invaluable. Although vast in their nature, the principles often interlink and underpin one another to ensure the highest levels of productivity are achieved. Since the placement, I have been offered a job throughout the summer, which shows that the work I completed throughout the duration of the placement warranted further work in the future.

Continually, I have also had the privilege of experiencing a variety of opportunities.  One example that is prevalent and taught me a large amount of the information I am able to apply to my work placement are the two AHDB Pork courses that I attended. The courses were the ‘Service and Dry Sow Management’ and ‘Farrowing Management’ development schemes. These courses not only allowed me to further my CPD, therefore providing me with a wide scope of information regarding the topics, but also allowed me to apply what I had learnt in a practical and meaningful way which benefited not only myself, but also my colleagues. Having these experiences has been extremely beneficial and has allowed me to express a key interest into the outdoor pig production industry.

In addition, a wide range of opportunities also arose due to the regular contact with the assigned farm veterinarian. Hearing opinions and thoughts regarding how to improve the efficiency and productivity of the farm, for example through improving feeding regimes and vaccination protocols, gave me an insight into the best ways to keep efficiency high whilst also trying to minimise the output costs. Vaccinations for both sows and gilts are carried out on a regular basis. Thus, communicating with the veterinarian enabled me to understand how the vaccines worked. This was invaluable, furthering the knowledge I had already gained whilst studying the Pharmacology module. Further to this, I undertook euthanasia training. Although daunting at first, gathering the concepts and principles required to undertake such an important aspect of pig production was highly beneficial and allowed me to greatly understand and respect professionals within the field. Continuing to learn about the practical applications alongside the literature surrounding euthanasia was vital in ensuring that I understood why the euthanasia was carried out on an individual basis, and overall this made me appreciate the process to a higher extent than I would have thought otherwise.

The distance learning (DL) aspect of the course was challenging yet extremely rewarding. The process of DL involved using a variety of IT methods to both teach and learn (Bollinger et al., 2011). At first DL was a hard concept to follow, especially as its start coincided with the start of my work placement. Having intense days whilst on the work placement meant that sometimes academic commitments were sacrificed or pushed to the side in order to gain the most out of the placement. Although a negative in some respects, professionally I believe that this helped me to prioritise what is important, alongside motivating me to ensure that all the work was completed on time and to the best of my ability whilst still enjoying what I was doing.  The independent work that DL requires allowed me to discover what I was interested in and how this could be applied to current and future ambitions.


Throughout my time at F L Pigs Ltd, I have thoroughly enjoyed the work and opportunities I have experienced, both as an individual, but also as part of a team. Although some days can be extremely difficult due to the intensity of the work, and to some extent the euthanasia of animals, the positives outweigh the negatives. For me this was a great learning method as it shows that not everything goes smoothly all of the time, and in some cases negative experiences need to be present in order to appreciate the positive experiences. Further to this, I also believe that experiencing the euthanasia of a sow, for example, stands me in a good position for further education and employment. Alongside this, experiencing the euthanasia of individual animals, whilst daunting at first, allowed me to understand the greater good and reasoning for this, and how in the end this is for the greater good.

Initially, the abundance and intensity of work was a lot higher than I first thought it would be. This is most likely due to the fact that the farming experience I had previously was very limited. Due to the intensive nature of the work, it took me a while to get used to this and for around 2 months, this was a very overwhelming experience. As time went on however, I became increasingly confident, allowing me to flourish in the role, enabling me to enjoy it much more than I ever thought I would.


Throughout the duration of my time on placement, my confidence has increased greatly. I believe that this was due to working in a small team for the majority of the time whilst at work along with vastly improving my communication skills. In my opinion, this is most likely down to the fact that working in a small team encouraged me to voice my thoughts and opinions regarding certain aspects, which as a secondary resulted in my confidence and communication skills flourishing. The variety of the profession was also something I enjoyed significantly. No two days were the same, and as a result the variation besides the day to day running’s were vast and of a very interesting nature. Whether this be carrying out mass vaccinations, AI or fostering piglets, I believe that I have gained a huge amount of skills and knowledge surrounding the sector which will greatly help me in the future. Carrying out tasks on a regular basis encouraged me to become more competent and confident. Having this ability shows an increase in professional confidence; a dynamic, maturing personal belief understanding the scope and significance of the practice (Holland et al., 2012).

From all of the work I have undertaken both whilst on placement and throughout the duration of the DL scheme, I have concluded that whilst the work has been challenging, it has been a very rewarding process. Due to this, I believe that it puts me in a good position with regards to future studies and employment as a result of my improved ability to work independently in a demanding situation, whilst also being more prepared with regards to time management and prioritisation. Further to this, being offered a summer job has allowed me to again further improve on my confidence and will also allow me to fully embrace the experiences that I have been offered.

For me, the most negative aspect of the work placement was the demanding nature with regards to time. The days were extremely long as previously mentioned, and therefore motivation was lacking after a day’s work. This however improved over time as I was able to balance the placement and academic work more effectively, allowing me to enjoy both aspects of my final year studies. Overall, from all of the experiences they were more positive than negative, therefore contributing to the enjoyment I have experienced throughout the academic year.


Reflection is extremely important in order to analyse the actions and experience one goes through (Caldwell and Grobbel, 2013). This is especially important with regards to industrial work placements as a whole, most importantly to understand, develop and learn from both the positive and negative experiences one has endured. From the overall situation of both the work placement and DL aspects of the course combined, I believe I have learnt a vast amount, not only about outdoor pig farming and the Bioveterinary Science sector, but I have also learnt a lot about myself as an individual. The skills I have gained not only encouraged me to grow as an individual, but also as a professional within the field of work, thus making all the work I have completed of great benefit to my CPD.

Out of all of the tasks, carrying out AIs is one of the most interesting and applicable tasks I have been lucky enough to partake in. When carrying out AIs it is important to ensure that the sow or gilt is on oestrus, identifying this has allowed me to apply the knowledge I have collated from modules in second and third year, namely; Reproduction and Genetics. In addition to this, research regarding the process of AI in swine was important to understand the intricate procedure, the importance in carrying it out correctly, and thus, the importance to the agricultural livestock sector. This application continues to allow me to develop not only in a professional manner, but also in an academic one, furthering the knowledge I have gained throughout the duration of my undergraduate degree course. Following on from this, developing the deeper knowledge behind the process allowed me to apply it to a wider field of science, thus making it highly applicable and insightful regarding the Bioveterinary sector as a whole. Using this method of self-directed learning is considered one of the most appropriate strategies that coincides with CPD, contributing to my competency with regards to this particular task (Jeong et al., 2018).

Completing the DL aspect of the course has made me a more open-minded person. This is most noticeably due to the fact that having discussions with both peers and lecturers has allowed me to gain an insight into a wide variety of experiences and sectors amongst the field of Bioveterinary Science. This therefore allows for connections to be made between the contrasting areas to observe and understand the differences and similarities between them.


In retrospect, there are a few things that I would go about in a different manner. The first being to have a better work-life balance. Working long hours in a highly demanding job often meant that I was extremely tired upon finishing a day’s work at my placement. Resultantly, at times, it was hard to focus on the DL aspects of my course, and sometimes this was a hindrance to my learning. To overcome this, I would express more profusely to my placement provider, alongside colleagues, the stress I was experiencing. This would allow them to guide me to a greater extent regarding the best option to ensure that all of the work I completed was to the best of my ability and completed within a sufficient time frame.

Although both my placement provider and colleagues were extremely accommodating and understood any of my worries regarding completing my work, I often felt as though I would be letting the team down if I asked for time off to carry out more of my university work. Looking back on this, I know this would not have been a problem due to my placement provider always informing me that my university work was my main priority. This is therefore something which I wish to work on in the future; having the ability to speak my mind and concerns regarding certain aspects of my life to ensure that I do not suffer in silence as a result of not wanting to let the people around me down.

Action plan

In the future, I would love to carry on working within the livestock sector, encouraging the health and welfare of the animals involved within the production system, whilst also improving productivity. Further to this, as I will continue my work placement throughout the summer, I am able to develop and improve the skills I have gained throughout the past 9 months will be extremely beneficial, especially as I am able to fully submerge myself into the work required of me. Applying the information, I have learnt throughout the completion of my placement project to the farm will be advantageous, not only to my learning, but also to my placement provider. One example of this is looking into how seasonality affects production, therefore suggesting ideas and implementing adjustments to the farm to encourage the highest levels of productivity possible. If the situation arose again, I would be more inclined to identify the issues and inform my placement provider or colleagues of the concerns I was having.

Further to this, all the skills I have developed including the farm work I have completed, the DL attributes alongside the personal skills I have incurred will be extremely helpful to apply to future studies and employment. Developing academically, professionally and as an individual is extremely beneficial to continue developing in the future and being able to reflect on the past experiences have also been priceless. According to Smith et al (2007), work-based experience benefits are based deeply on the extent to which reflection has occurred alongside conjoining this with the academic content and context relayed to them, therefore reflecting on the experiences has been highly beneficial.


Bollinger, R. C., McKenzie-White, J. and Gupta, A. (2011) ‘Building a Global Health Education Network for Clinical Care and Research. The Benefits and Challenges of Distance Learning Tools. Lessons Learned from the Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education.’ Infectious Disease Clinics of North America, 25(2) pp. 385–398. 

Caldwell, L. and Grobbel, C. C. (2013) ‘The Importance of Reflective Practice in Nursing.’International Journal of Caring Sciences, 6(3) p. 8.

Harrison, M., Short, C. and Roberts, C. (2003) ‘Reflecting on Reflective Learning: The case of geography, earth and environmental sciences.’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 27(2) pp. 133–152.      

Holland, K., Middleton, L. and Uys, L. (2012) ‘Professional confidence: A concept analysis.’ Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 19(2) pp. 214–224.

Jeong, D., Presseau, J., ElChamaa, R., Naumann, D. N., Mascaro, C., Luconi, F., Smith, K. M. and Kitto, S. (2018) ‘Barriers and Facilitators to Self-Directed Learning in Continuing Professional Development for Physicians in Canada: A Scoping Review.’Academic Medicine, 93(8) pp. 1245–1254.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience As The Source Of Learning And Development. Journal of Business Ethics. Prentice Hall.

Koshy, K., Limb, C., Gundogan, B., Whitehurst, K. and Jafree, D. J. (2017) ‘Reflective practice in health care and how to reflect effectively:’ International Journal of Surgery Oncology, 2(6) p. e20. 


Sandars, J. (2009) ‘The use of reflection in medical education: AMEE Guide No. 44.’ Medical Teacher, 31(8) pp. 685–695.       

Smith, K., Clegg, S., Lawrence, E. and Todd, M. J. (2007) ‘The challenges of reflection: students learning from work placements.’ Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(2) pp. 131–141.


This magazine article is aimed at bioveterinary practitioners who wish to implement evidence-based practice (EBP) throughout their work and workplace.

Evidence-based practice

Sackett and Rosenberg developed a definition for EBP with the main principles being; critically appraising evidence and applying it to clinical practice resulting in consistency. The evidence used should be as current and relevant to the bioveterinary science profession as possible, allowing successful application. The significance of EBP is continually growing and is supported by current advancements regarding patient care, alongside enhancing the efficacy of clinical outcomes.

EBP advancements are most evident within the healthcare sector, however, is not limited. In fact, anybody, including you can implement the process within your workplace. This article will provide the required information allowing you to apply the principle to your work practice.

EBP is an integral concept within healthcare and science and is gaining greater prominence among different industries. However, consideration to EBP should be addressed within the bioveterinary science sector, enabling improvements regarding scientific understanding and communication. The principle is becoming increasingly more advanced within bioveterinary science due to its application from veterinary medicine.

EBP involves implementing the most current evidence and data with expert opinion, allowing theories to be applied to clinical work and providing the best solution for patient care. Within bioveterinary science, the principle allows application of knowledge concerning health and disease of animals to clinical or laboratory situations. The application has been made more promising due to evidence-based medicine being a major player. This has translated to the veterinary field through evidence-based veterinary medicine. Continually, implementation towards bioveterinary science becoming more viable.

Collecting Evidence

Collecting evidence is a vital part of EBP with the amount of evidence significantly increasing since the 1990s. However, issues have arisen which need to be addressed when it comes to collating and appraising current evidence. One issue is the use of inappropriate research methodologies. The methodologies may not relate to the work being undertaken and as a result, assessments should be made to see if evidence is relevant and if so, to what extent.

EBP is mainly about using the best available evidence to aid in decision making. Conversely, it’s been established that as current research is not fully conclusive, recently developed research should be collaborated with previously discovered evidence. This allows more rounded and representative conclusions to be made. When selecting evidence for implementation, the nature and strengthshould be evaluated to make sure it is relevant to the individual situation.

Combining evidence from a variety of sources including; scientific studies and journals as well as information from professionals within that field has been found the most effective way in generating ideas and applying knowledge to individual situations. This allows for personalisation of research and conclusions, hopefully resulting in the best outcome.

Implementing EBP

Implementation is an ongoing practice and is unlikely to happen overnight. This is due to the fact one of the main principles is to tailor evidence and decision making towards individual patients through clinical expertise. This is then used in conjunction with the best evidence available. The process of implementation is often linked to adaption, whereby processes are modified to suit relevant, and upcoming information.

The main way of using EBP within the bioveterinary science industry is by using work that has already been undertaken in sectors such as healthcare. This application would allow for practices to be used much more effectively and efficiently.

EBP within bioveterinary science

Although currently EBP is not commonly used within bioveterinary science, as stated above, it is an emerging concept and would be a great advantage to the sector upon implementation. It is believed that when trying to implement the process, it is more successful when practitioners have a positive mindset to the research findings and available data.

In bioveterinary science, cases should be looked at individually, encouraging personal configuration of work. For example, when looking at routes of infections, the process, if known should be addressed based on certain individuals. When this is done, research and evidence relating to the pathogeny of the disease should be kept as close to the individual case as possible.

Issues with implementing EBP

Some of the issues to overcome regarding EBP can include; access to relevant journals and clinical evidence, convincing colleagues and managers to implement the process as well as combining evidence with personal preference on how to carry out practices.

These hurdles can result in fewer establishments adopting the principle and so perseverance is a virtue for implementing the process. Effective introduction is more likely if better understanding of the principle is achieved. Often this is achieved through reading relevant literature, however as stated above, this is not always viable due to the access required to read the papers. To overcome this, research and clinical expertise that you have access to should be read around as vigorously as possible. This would allow for the best conclusions to be reached.

Continually, the process is more likely to be implemented if everyone in the workplace agrees to use it. Initially, it is likely that the process will not run seamlessly, however overtime as people become more familiar with the principle, they will be able to use it more regularly, competently and confidently.

Implementing EBP into the whole work environment is vital in the success of the process. It is also vital to regularly check the process is working effectively. If it has been decided that the process is not working, then it is crucial to make adaptions and change the way it is carried out to suit everyone in the workplace. Barriers and facilitators are also fundamental when it comes to adhering to EBP to allow for enhancement of successful implementation. Some barriers include; context, culture and leadership. To overcome these issues, personalisation to the workplace is vital for correcting them.

Advantages and disadvantages

Although there are many positives of the principle, like with many other principles there are also disadvantages. The process can be extremely time consuming due to the fact that evidence has to be collected from a variety of the most appropriate sources. This is extremely important as evidence has to be collated and applied to the situation in order to try and create the most ideal situation. This is extremely helpful among bioveterinary scientists, especially within laboratory’s as research can be based off of that previously composed, allowing for relevant and vital conclusions to be made.

Another complication with using EBP is the large abundance of information available. This can make it extremely complicated to condense and find the most relevant information to the situation. Positively however, EBP does not have to be an individual process and so could be completed as a team. This is often beneficial within the animal health industry, especially as work is often completed within teams. When working in a team, individual time spent can be considerably reduced and due to discussions and critical analysis, a more positive outcome can be as a result.

Due to the laboratory-based environment that is used throughout bioveterinary science, a large number of variables are often controlled. This is not always a positive as all avenues of research cannot be explored. Therefore, the collation of all available research is imperative to ensuring all variables are accounted for and included.  As a result, EBP is a great way of improving professional practice, gathering optimum information resulting in more definite conclusions.

The process can be a real success and can contribute to effective operations of a workplace.  It is also extremely helpful when it comes to looking into complex cases. Research can be collected from many sources resulting in a more personal outcome for that individual piece of work. It can also create important relationships with clients as they feel they are getting a tailored outcome.

Finally, EBP also contributes to the process of ‘one medicine’. This allows findings within medicine to be applied to veterinary medicine and the bioveterinary science sector allowing advancements to be made. This improves the health and wellbeing of a large number of animals and is especially important when trying to improve the health and welfare of patients.

How to become an evidence-based practitioner

In order to become an evidence-based practitioner, an understanding of scientific studies, critical appraisal and application to your own work is key. Continually, science communication is also vital.


Figure 1: Theory of planned behaviour framework (Barends et al., 2017)

Figure 1 shows one framework that could be used to implement EBP. The first column represents behaviours that should be addressed when it comes to introducing the process. Attitudes need to be positive in order for people to encourage the use, especially as it is a time-consuming process. Once the correct intentions have been established, EBP should be implemented. Due to the positive attitudes and intentions that have been recognised, it should happen much more effectively and smoothly. These steps can be vital for successful implementation of the process within the workplace. Therefore, frameworks regarding EBP should be looked into to find the most cohesive one regarding your work practice.
Decision making


Figure 2: Decision making in evidence based veterinary medicine (Holmes and Ramey, 2007)

Figure 2 shows some of the main principles allowing an optimum decision to be made regarding EBP. As stated above, the best evidence, client and clinical preferences and circumstances should be taken into consideration. Taking these concepts into

consideration enables individual outcomes to be made depending on individual cases, allowing for personalisation of research. When making decisions, theories and methods can be collated, providing grounds for new research to be undertaken.

Unlike reflective practice, EBP does not require reflection of your own work. Instead, it requires reflection and analysis of research, expert opinion as well as your own personal judgement making it a more well-rounded concept.


To conclude, EBP is becoming a more important process within bioveterinary science. This advancement leads to well-rounded conclusions to be made regarding individual cases. There are many ways that EBP can be implemented within the workplace, and with the best research and mutual understanding of the process being developed this would be much more of a seamless process.

Recommended reading

Bach-Mortensen, A. M., Lange, B. C. L. and Montgomery, P. (2018) ‘Barriers and facilitators to implementing evidence-based interventions among third sector organisations: a systematic review.’ Implementation Science, 13(1) p. 103.

Barends, E., Villanueva, J., Rousseau, D. M., Briner, R. B., Jepsen, D. M., Houghton, E. and ten Have, S. (2017) ‘Managerial attitudes and perceived barriers regarding evidence-based practice: An international survey.’ Schmidt, B. R. (ed.) PLOS ONE, 12(10) p. e0184594.

Kitson, A., Harvey, G. and McCormack, B. (1998) ‘Enabling the implementation of evidence based practice: a conceptual framework.’ Quality and Safety in Health Care, 7(3) pp. 149–158.

Kueny, A., Shever, L. L., Lehan Mackin, M. and Titler, M. G. (2015) ‘Facilitating the implementation of evidence- based practice through contextual support and nursing leadership.’ Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 7, June, pp. 29–39.

Wong, G., Monatzerolghaem, M. and Gerzina, T. (2019) ‘Integrating Evidence-Based Practice Into Oral Health Clinical Practice: Students’ Perspectives.’ Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice, 19(1) pp. 79–85.

Using in vitro tissue models as alternatives to using protected animals.

1.0 Introduction

Among animal research, a wide range of alternative, non-invasive methods are being used to coincide with the concept of the 3Rs. This review will focus on the use of in vitrotissue models as an alternative to protected animals. Animal research is vital to improving healthcare for both animals and humans, therefore non-animal alternatives are vital. Morrissey et al (2017)states noteworthy scientific discoveries including; developing antibiotics, vaccines and surgical procedures. The issue of pain, distress and death that animals used for scientific research experience has been questioned for a substantial period of time (Doke and Dhawale, 2015). Due to the concerns, alternatives have become increasingly popular.

Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, protected animals are classed as any living vertebrate other than man or living cephalopod as well as animals in embryonic stages. Vertebrates are protected from two thirds of their gestation period or until capable of feeding independently, however any cephalopod is not protected throughout its embryonic form (Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 1999). The aim of minimising the use of protected animals is to reduce associated issues regarding ethics and welfare.

Interactions between the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, Veterinary Surgeons Act and the Animal Welfare Act can be observed. This overlap causes difficulties when trying to make ethical and well-informed decisions relating to scientific research within the veterinary field. Due to this, it is important that alternatives are used when trying to minimise the overlap.

2.0 Main body

When undertaking research, there are many factors that feed into the process of depicting the study design. Morrissey et al (2017)notes some including; consideration of financial resources, incorporating donations or funds, for example governments and charities. Continuously, ethical consideration should be of foremost importance. Controversy has drastically influenced the change from using animals to alternative models and due to this change, positive advancements within scientific research have excelled.

2.1 Frameworks

The 3Rs framework is commonly used, adapting and improving scientific procedures, most significantly ethically. The 3Rs represent; replacement, reduction and refinement which Bauhammer et al (2019)state was developed by Russel and Burch in 1959. The main aims of the 3Rs include; minimising inflicted pain, reducing the number of animals and refining the study to try and achieve the desired outcome. This is done through replacing protected animals with unprotected animals or using alternative methods. Reduction is used to reduce the abundance of animals used; however, the numbers should be reduced without hindrance. Finally, refinement is used to minimise the amount of suffering the animal experiences through study design.

Another framework that is currently in place is the Sharing Experimental Animal Resources Coordinating Holdings (SEARCH) framework (figure 1). This framework is in place to ease the use of excess animal material for biomedical research, together with reducing the amount of biomedical waste. There are however downfalls to the framework, one example being how they reduce scientific waste. The framework states that using appropriate tissue is a priority, however this may reduce the creditability of the experiment when poor material choices are made. Therefore, thoughts regarding appropriate material should be conducted regarding the desired outcome of the study.

Aniamls in research

Figure 1: Representation of the SEARCH framework (Morrissey et al., 2017)

2.2 Protected animals – breeding, husbandry and regulated procedures

When it comes to protected animals; breeding, husbandry and regulated procedures are vital to ensuring the health and welfare of animals. This is done through many precautionary measures such as providing those with appropriate training licenses dependant on the level of training that they have completed.

When it comes to breeding animals, a certificate for becoming a breeder or supplying establishment is required. This is given by the Secretary of State based on terms of husbandry and welfare conditions. When breeding these animals, it is required to kill any animal in pain, suffering or distress. This has to be done so appropriately though a schedule 1 method or a method approved by the Secretary of State (Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 1999).

Regarding husbandry, protected animals are to be kept in a clean, natural environment with enough enrichment to prevent boredom and destructive behaviours. This is vital when it comes to behavioural studies by stopping fighting between cage mates as well as preventing health issues (Waiblinger and König, 2004).

Regulated procedures are any procedure undertaken on a protected animal for a qualifying purpose, potentially resulting in levels of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm higher than introducing a needle. The aim is to minimise the number of unnecessary procedures being carried on animals whereby they could be carried out using alternative methods (Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 1999).

When using protected animals, it is important to ensure that animals are not being reused unless permission is given from the Secretary of State. This is to ensure that animals are not undergoing too many harmful procedures, impacting their quality of life. A veterinary surgeon should be consulted throughout the process (Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 1999).

2.3 In vitro models

Invitro models are used to replicate in vivo situations within scientific research. This is due to the fact that they can be synthesised from primary cell lines as well as being taken from animals during surgery, making it a viable option. Improvements to using in vitrosamples need to be addressed, for example Karami et al (2019)believe more appropriate environments are needed to allow further development. As well as this, more people should be trained to use, collect and synthesise samples appropriately and successfully. Improving holding environments would ensure that samples are kept in the correct conditions as well as potentially prolonging holding time.

Continually, in vitromodels can mimic the role of the bodies tissue system and provide opportunities for studying cellular responses, being especially beneficial in closed animal systems. However, Dvořáková et al (2016)state; in vitromethods are not always applicable to the whole organism. Nonetheless, they can be imperative to further testing in animals if required.

The main aim of biomedical research is to gather molecular understandings regarding body functions and how to combat this through; diagnosis, prevention and therapeutic intervention (Benam et al., 2015). Due to this aim, more research into respective animal alternatives is required to develop a greater depth of understanding regarding individual animal systems. Using live animals is not always ethical; protected or unprotected, so in vitro models are highly desired. As of recent times, and in many countries, in vitrocell testing has replaced for previously used skin tests. This allows for unnecessary procedures to be carried out on alternatives, therefore inhibiting pain and distress of animals.

Benam et al (2015)state in vitromethods usually rely on cell lines or primary cells to develop into tissues originating from patients suffering with the disease, or those free from disease. They can then be used to investigate a variety of conditions including skin conditions, working to imitate conditions (Johnson et al., 2016). This results in developments and understandings as to how diseases are initiated and withstand ‘life’ in certain body systems. This interpretation could result in further understanding and the potential development of further medication or treatments.

According to Dovč et al (2015), the primary cell lines can be used for immunological, proteomic and genomic studies. The range of possibilities available provides a firm argument as to why in vitromodels should be used. Tissue models are commonly used as a basis for human disease research, encouraging the concept of one medicine through applying developments in human medicine to veterinary medicine. This is highly significant as a large number of veterinary advances originate from human medicine.

2.4 Advantages and disadvantages of in vitro models

When using in vitrotissue models, there are a variety of advantages and disadvantages in terms of use and application towards veterinary medicine. Some advantages of in vitromodels include vast amounts of research into health and disease. When investigating said diseases, mechanisms can be established, and further understanding can be as a result (Katt et al., 2016). Another advantage of using in vitromodels is that the number of animals required is reduced dramatically, reducing suffering to said animals. Results can also be collected much more rapidly. The experiment can be adapted and changed with much more ease, meaning studies can be highly controlled, allowing for mechanisms to be better understood. When variables are controlled, it is easier to understand what influences certain aspects of health and disease and therefore treatment can be provided successfully.

Continually, there are a high number of methods available including; using primary cells, cell lines and both 2D and 3D models. Although this is a positive due to the high number of in vitromethods available, Jennings (2015)has seen this negatively due to the fact that it could be considered too many choices. This opinion could impact the work carried out as selecting appropriate samples becomes more complex due to the large abundance of choice. The use of in vitro tissues also reduces the complexity of animal testing through eliminating the medication that would need to be provided (Doke and Dhawale, 2015). This is a positive as there will be fewer complications regarding side effects as well as post-study aftercare. However, sometimes the side effects and post-study aftercare are imperative to the study and could be the basis of the study. When this is the case, cost implications should be considered and factored into the budget.

Although the use of tissue models is needed to reduce ethical and welfare complications, the use of animals cannot be stopped completely due to the importance of whole-body studies. Thankfully, the number of animals used has decreased considerably because of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. When needing to use protected animals in studies, there are many procedures in place to ensure ethics and welfare are the main priorities. This is vital when it comes to legalities due to the potential prosecution if protocols are not correctly followed.

Continually, as mentioned above, in vitrotissues acting independently is not always a positive thing. Benam et al (2015)states that as diseases involve interactions between several different organs, models are not always representative. This has been investigated whereby multiple organs are linked together through fluidic coupling, vascular channels and engineered organs. This is however a novel concept and so further research and development is required to improve this. Due to the characteristics of blood, surgical intervention cannot be correctly replicated among in vitrotissues and so for this purpose, animals are still required (Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986., 2014).

Arguably, in vitrotesting methods are considerably more expensive than the use of live animals, especially initially (Prior et al., 2019)., justifying why some countries outside the UK are yet to apply them and still resort to using animals. Continually, when using this method, knowledge and expertise are required to manipulate cell lines and tissues, permitting them to carry out desired functions. People trained in that field therefore need to be available to carry this out. This is not always possible and so they have to resort to using animals in order to test a variety of medications and treatments.

2.5 Legal, ethical and biological principles

When finding alternative methods to using live animals, a large number of factors need to be considered. Some people may argue that ethical considerations are the most important when trying to minimise harm and distress to the animal, however legalities and biological principles also play a major role.

In order to limit a number of ethical concerns regarding the use of animals, in vitromodels are used as a substitute. The alternative means fewer animals are used. Due to this, replacements are advised following the 3Rs concept, meaning that alternatives are the most appropriate way to limit any complications as well as putting the animal’s life before scientific research. This is an argument that has been present among different groups of people and due to this has influenced the change.

When using animals for scientific testing, there are legalities in place that try to minimise potential issues. Limiting the number of animals has been enforced by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Guidance on the Operation of ASPA is used as a guideline for crediting experiments and studies. Both of the mentioned guidelines provide detailed information concerning provisions and most importantly, what animals and procedures can be used or carried out. As a result, when looking into undertaking research using animals, these publications need to be read and understood meticulously to ensure no confusion occurs. 

When using in vitrotissue samples, there are guidelines in place to ensure that they are being used to coincide with professional practice. A guideline in place that allows the standardisation of using in vitromethods is known as ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo experiments). Prior et al (2019)states the role of this framework is to ensure the data and findings published within literature are done so appropriately, accurately and conclusively. Continually, validation is required to ensure in vitro studies are of a high enough standard (Romberg et al., 2012). Authentication is vital in ensuring protocols are followed correctly and therefore reduces the chance of secondary issues being as a result.

The legislation currently in place is extremely complex, therefore using laboratory animals has become much more of a highly monitored situation. This results in the frequent need of alternative models to enable the furthering of scientific research, especially within the veterinary field. Enabling further research into the use of alternative methods means that they can be used more viably and readily. This again has been extremely enhanced since the introduction of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. According to Berger (2009), the use of all laboratory animals is restricted in European countries, USA, Canada as well as many more countries in the world. This is based on economic, ethical and legal grounds and is likely to result in more countries adopting this view.

Biological research that has been conducted to develop and improve in vitromodels has gained more precedence over time. The biological advancements have made synthesising tissues much more viable as well as functional. Therefore, reducing the number of animals used for scientific research has been an extremely positive outcome. Further development should result in fewer animals being used over time as scientific procedures using in vitromodels advances.  

2.6 Skin models

When selecting tissues and cell lines to make in vitrosamples, the main principle is to synthesise a model as close to the organ or tissue as possible. An example of this achievement is one by Cerrato et al (2016)whereby they have been able to use in vitroskin models to test skin treatments. This is a positive advancement within animal research and due to the success could result in the replication as well as advancement of this technique.

One method of collecting a skin sample is to collect it through surgery. When collected, the sample needs to be rapidly cooled down and transported in order for the study to be carried out the same day. As the process is being used more regularly, conditions have improved allowing for samples to be kept for longer periods of time. Throughout the study, the sample needs to be kept in appropriate conditions in order to prolong the use (Bauhammer et al., 2019). Methods of collecting skin samples has become broader and more innovative, and so the most appropriate sample for the study should always be selected.

Due to the complexity of skin and its ability to complete many complex functions, the importance of using in vitromodels is essential. For example, one study completed by Moronkeji et al (2017)allowed for the imitation of microneedle penetration. After the development of this skin model, development of more representative skin models was promoted. This could be done through more attention being taken into the respect of subcutaneous layers.

3.0 Conclusion

To conclude, animal testing is becoming less possible due to the associated risks throughout the testing process, as well as the legalities in place. Therefore, alternative methods are being used to minimise this risk. As stated within this review, in vitromodels are one of the most common alternatives. The movement from using animals to non-animal alternatives has been largely propelled by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. This propulsion has allowed for an ever-increasing number of alternatives to be developed and investigated.

Although alternatives cannot always be used, when they can they should be, using in vitrosamples is an accepted alternative. According to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, 1999), in vitromethods should be warranted to address the posed question on how to follow the 3Rs principle for inhibiting the use of further animal tests.


4.0 Bibliography

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986(1999). [Online] [Accessed on 9th April 2019]

Bauhammer, I., Sacha, M. and Haltner, E. (2019) ‘Establishment of a novel in vitro viable human skin model as a basis for the treatment of human and veterinary chronic skin diseases.’ Journal of Drug Delivery Science and Technology, 51, June, pp. 695–699.

Benam, K. H., Dauth, S., Hassell, B., Herland, A., Jain, A., Jang, K.-J., Karalis, K., Kim, H. J., MacQueen, L., Mahmoodian, R., Musah, S., Torisawa, Y., van der Meer, A. D., Villenave, R., Yadid, M., Parker, K. K. and Ingber, D. E. (2015) ‘Engineered In Vitro Disease Models.’ Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease, 10(1) pp. 195–262.

Berger, J. (2009) ‘Preclinical testing on insects predicts human haematotoxic potentials.’ Laboratory Animals, 43(4) pp. 328–332.

Cerrato, S., Ramió-Lluch, L., Brazís, P., Fondevila, D., Segarra, S. and Puigdemont, A. (2016) ‘Effects of sphingolipid extracts on the morphological structure and lipid profile in an in vitro model of canine skin.’ The Veterinary Journal, 212, June, pp. 58–64.

Doke, S. K. and Dhawale, S. C. (2015) ‘Alternatives to animal testing: A review.’ Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 23(3) pp. 223–229.

Dovč, P., Ogorevc, J., Univ. of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Fac., Dept. of Animal Science, Groblje 3, SI-1230 Domžale, Slovenia, Lapanja, T., Univ. of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Fac., Dept. of Animal Science, Study program in biotechnology, Groblje 3, SI-1230 Domžale, Slovenia, Poklukar, K., Tominšek, N. and Univ. of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Fac., Dept. of Animal Science, Groblje 3, SI-1230 Domžale, Slovenia (2015) ‘Establishment of primary keratinocyte culture from horse tissue biopsates.’ Acta agriculturae Slovenica, 106(2) pp. 87–91.

Dvořáková, M., Kejlová, K., Bendová, H., Rucki, M., Kohout, P., Tomešová, J., Vavrouš, A. and Jírová, D. (2016) ‘Alternative methods in vitro for screening of endocrine disruptors.’ Neuroendocrinology Lettersp. 9.

Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.(2014).

Jennings, P. (2015) ‘“The future of in vitro toxicology.”’ Toxicology in Vitro, 29(6) pp. 1217–1221.

Johnson, C. I., Argyle, D. J. and Clements, D. N. (2016) ‘In vitro models for the study of osteoarthritis.’ The Veterinary Journal, 209, March, pp. 40–49.

Karami, D., Richbourg, N. and Sikavitsas, V. (2019) ‘Dynamic in vitro models for tumor tissue engineering.’ Cancer Letters, 449, May, pp. 178–185.

Katt, M. E., Placone, A. L., Wong, A. D., Xu, Z. S. and Searson, P. C. (2016) ‘In Vitro Tumor Models: Advantages, Disadvantages, Variables, and Selecting the Right Platform.’ Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 4, February.

Moronkeji, K., Todd, S., Dawidowska, I., Barrett, S. D. and Akhtar, R. (2017) ‘The role of subcutaneous tissue stiffness on microneedle performance in a representative in vitro model of skin.’ Journal of Controlled Release, 265, November, pp. 102–112.

Morrissey, B., Blyth, K., Carter, P., Chelala, C., Jones, L., Holen, I. and Speirs, V. (2017) ‘The Sharing Experimental Animal Resources, Coordinating Holdings (SEARCH) Framework: Encouraging Reduction, Replacement, and Refinement in Animal Research.’ PLOS Biology, 15(1) p. e2000719.

Prior, H., Casey, W., Kimber, I., Whelan, M. and Sewell, F. (2019) ‘Reflections on the progress towards non-animal methods for acute toxicity testing of chemicals.’ Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 102, March, pp. 30–33.

Romberg, J., Lang, S., Balks, E., Kamphuis, E., Duchow, K., Loos, D., Rau, H., Motitschke, A. and Jungbäck, C. (2012) ‘Potency testing of veterinary vaccines: The way from in vivo to in vitro.’ Biologicals, 40(1) pp. 100–106.

Waiblinger, E. and König, B. (2004) ‘Refinement of Gerbil Housing and Husbandry in the Laboratory.’ Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 32(1_suppl) pp. 163–169.


The use of critical reflective practice as evidence for decision making in professional practice

Reflective practice has been increasing in popularity over the past twenty years (Dubé and Ducharme, 2015). It is a very important aspect in improving professional development and the process of decision making within professional practice. Although it is a novel concept, its recognition is broadening and is becoming vital to practitioners. It can be defined as an active process whereby one has a perspective on their own personal actions, briefly, but also in much more depth (Amulya, 2004). In addition to its importance in developing experiences through practical tasks. Trefla (2016)states that reflective practice is often used at graduate level due to the engagement it creates at a higher education.

There are many different connections between reflective practice and different professions including healthcare and veterinary medicine. Especially with the use of reflective practice aiding greatly in professional development. Alongside this, it allows practitioners to make more informed decisions, feeding into the concept of evidence-based practice (EBP).

EBP is an emerging concept that is gaining continual recognition. This is especially due to evidence being such an important aspect in many different sectors, profoundly in nursing. Sackett and Rosenberg (1995)devised a definition for evidence based medicine (EBM), which included aspects of it being a self-directed learning process, allowing for individual clinical decisions to be made that tailor to each individual patient. Both EBM and evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) base treatment decisions on valid, clinically relevant research(Arlt, 2016). The evidence used within EBM can be collected from many different sources including; research, clinical experience, patients and also in local contexts (Rycroft-Malone et al., 2004). According to Barredo (2005), the incorporation of critical reflection into EBM allows professionals to both evaluate and find alternatives to the different practices undertaken. Reflective practice and EBP are equally essential, however, they are taught separately due to there being minimal overlap between the two (Bannigan and Moores, 2009).

Critical reflection is another aspect that feeds into reflective practice. It is described as being a more liberal form of reflection and aims to transform wider societies compared to reflective practice which is aimed at one given individual. Critical thinking is necessary in order to make evidence-based and efficient clinical decisions (Carter et al., 2017; Mules, 2018). Improving reflective practice is a good way to refine and develop methods of work, ensuring the individual is a more effective and informed professional (Loughran, 2002). There are many advantages to reflective practice, these include; increased clarity and a more enriched view on interacting with patients  (Thompson and Burns, 2008). Although it is an overall positive process, issues such as bias can influence the way people reflect on their own work resulting in it being less effective.

Johns(1995) states that when learning to become a more effective professional, not only are fundamental skills required, but assessing these skills and reconstructing the way they are undertaken is vital. When reflecting, individuals need to be honest with themselves and evaluate both their strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to improve on what they aren’t doing as effectively, and what they are doing successfully. This is especially vital within bioveterinary science. This is due to the fact that it helps scientists to solidify their knowledge and skills and execute them much more efficiently and accurately.

Gibbs’ model of reflection (figure 1) is one of the main models that is used in many different sectors, especially so in the education sector (Timmins and Neill., 2013). The model is an extension on Kolb’s cycle and is a more detailed approach for both exploration and analysation of a situation (Paterson and Chapman, 2013). Although Gibbs’ model provides a basic structure for reflection, a more critical approach may be required. The model incorporates 6 different stages which aim to help people put reflective practice into different aspects of both their professional and private life. The stages include; descriptions, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and finally an action plan. These different stages allow for in depth thoughts to be made about the tasks undertaken, improving future attitudes towards the task or process.


Figure 1: Gibbs reflective cycle (Husebø et al., 2015)

Although Gibbs model is still highly commended when it comes to reflective practice, it is outdated and as stated previously, it is not effective for critical reflection.  Due to this, models that use a more critical approach to reflection are favoured.

A slightly more modern and critical model of reflective practice is Stockhausen’s clinical learning spiral (figure 2).This reflective framework is used widely within nursing and is used predominantly for reflection and retrospection after an experience (Quinn, 1998). There are four stages to Stockhausen’s clinical learning spiral, these are the; constructive phase, reflective phase, reconstruction phase and preparative phase.


Figure 2: Stockhausen’s clinical learning cycle (Quinn, 1998)

The four stages allow practitioners to look at the whole task that they have undertaken and allows them to be critical about what they have done and how they could potentially alternate the way they do it in the future. Each stage of the reflective cycle allows for an expansion in understanding (Koole et al., 2011). Stockhausen explored reflective practice and found that the way participants reflect on what they have completed is influenced by both their previous cultural and educational experiences (Hamilton and Druva, 2010).

The models of reflective practice spoken about can be integrated with the concepts of EBP and allows linkage of the best possible evidence and clinical conclusions due to their question-based concept. The use of EBP and critical reflection simultaneously allow outcomes to be more efficient and effective as there are many influencing factors that feed into the outcome (Barredo, 2005). Analysing experiences and evaluating them has become much more accessible as technology has advanced resulting in knowledge being shared much more freely (Claridge and Fabian, 2005).

Continually, reflection is also vital for EBM as it helps practitioners to make decisions looking at their own knowledge, knowledge from experts in the field and from evidence. Doing so helps to centralise the patient and make sure that they are receiving the best possible care available. According to Holmes and Ramey (2007), the main difference between EBM and traditional methods is that it uses more primary clinical research rather than textbooks and lecture notes.

To conclude, reflective practice and EBP are vital to the future of the healthcare, veterinary medicine and research science sector. These methods help practitioners to put their own knowledge along with knowledge from experts into practice, ensuring that the most desirable and best possible outcomes are reached. As well as this, it allows outdated and recent developments to be compared, therefore providing a much more informed response.


Amulya, J. (2004) ‘What is Reflective Practice?’ p. 4.

Arlt, S. P. (2016) ‘The staircase of evidence – a new metaphor displaying the core principles of Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine.’ Veterinary Evidence, 1(1).

Bannigan, K. and Moores, A. (2009) ‘A Model of Professional Thinking: Integrating Reflective Practice and Evidence Based Practice.’ Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(5) pp. 342–350.

Barredo, R. D. V. (2005) ‘Reflection and Evidence Based Practice in Action: A Case Based Application’ p. 4.

Carter, A. G., Creedy, D. K. and Sidebotham, M. (2017) ‘Critical thinking evaluation in reflective writing: Development and testing of Carter Assessment of Critical Thinking in Midwifery (Reflection).’ Midwifery, 54, November, pp. 73–80.

Claridge, J. A. and Fabian, T. C. (2005) ‘History and Development of Evidence-based Medicine.’ World Journal of Surgery, 29(5) pp. 547–553.

Dubé, V. and Ducharme, F. (2015) ‘Nursing reflective practice: An empirical literature review.’ Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, 5(7).

Hamilton, J. and Druva, R. (2010) ‘Fostering appropriate reflective learning in an undergraduate radiography course.’ Radiography, 16(4) pp. 339–345.

Holmes, M. A. and Ramey, D. W. (2007) ‘An Introduction to Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine.’ Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice, 23(2) pp. 191–200.

Husebø, S. E., O’Regan, S. and Nestel, D. (2015) ‘Reflective Practice and Its Role in Simulation.’ Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 11(8) pp. 368–375.

Johns, C. (1995) ‘Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing.’ Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22(2) pp. 226–234.

Koole, S., Dornan, T., Aper, L., Scherpbier, A., Valcke, M., Cohen-Schotanus, J. and Derese, A. (2011) ‘Factors confounding the assessment of reflection: a critical review.’ BMC Medical Education, 11(1).

Loughran, J. J. (2002) ‘Effective Reflective Practice: In Search of Meaning in Learning about Teaching.’ Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1) pp. 33–43.

Mules, P. (2018) ‘Reflections on the absence of formal reflection in public relations education and practice.’Public Relations Review, 44(1) pp. 174–179.

Paterson, C. and Chapman, J. (2013) ‘Enhancing skills of critical reflection to evidence learning in professional practice.’ Physical Therapy in Sport, 14(3) pp. 133–138.

Quinn, F. M. (1998) Continuing Professional Development in Nursing: A Guide for Practitioners and Educators. Nelson Thornes.

Rycroft-Malone, J., Seers, K., Titchen, A., Harvey, G., Kitson, A. and McCormack, B. (2004) ‘What counts as evidence in evidence-based practice?’ Journal of Advanced Nursing, 47(1) pp. 81–90.

Sackett, D. L. and Rosenberg, W. M. (1995) ‘The need for evidence-based medicine.’ Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 88(11) pp. 620–624.

Thompson, D. N. and Burns, H. K. (2008) ‘Reflection: An Essential Element of Evidence-based Practice.’ Journal of Emergency Nursing, 34(3) pp. 246–248.

Timmins, F. and Neill., M. F. (2013) ‘Reflections on Reflection: An Audit of Students’ use of Structured Models Within Specific Assessments.’ Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 93, October, pp. 1368–1370.

Trelfa, J. (2016) ‘What is reflective practice?,’ 53 pp. 1–22.


Reflection on Research Skills Test

Reflecting on my research skills test, I believe that the result I got was the result I deserved, and I believe that I did well. Although I did not spend much time revising due to the fact that I had other exams I thought were more important, the mark I got I was very happy with. Overall, I got 83% in the exam, with most of the marks coming from the maths-based questions. In order for me to have achieved a better result, I should have spent more time answering past questions. As well as this, I could have used the marking of the mock paper we did during one of our sessions to look at my weaknesses and worked on those. More care should also have been taken in the finer details of my answers. To continue improving on these skills for next year, I shall continue to look over the types of questions as well as answering a wider variety of questions. The skills that I gained from this test were very important. Resultantly, they will be able to help me next year during the statistics module we have to undertake allowing me to have a good understanding of the basic concepts.

During this past academic year, I have been very pleased with my results for the year. In all of my modules that I have an overall grade for so far, I have not achieved below a 2:1 class grade. However, to improve on this, I believe that working on my academic writing is vital. This has been one of the aspects that I have stated I wanted to improve on in past reflective pieces. Other than academic writing, there are many other skills that I have spoken about during my past reflective pieces including time management and understanding more scientific concepts. Looking back on the targets that I set myself, I feel as though I have improved. Although I didn’t spend a large quantity of time revising for the research skills exam, I decided to prioritise the exams that contributed to my overall grade of the year. Improving my overall grade for the year is likely to give me more confidence going on to my second year. I believe that I have made improvements to my time management but, I still feel as though I can make improvements with this being reflected in the amount of time I spent revising for my research skills test. Previously I have also said that working in a group is one of the best ways for me, however this is not always possible as well as not always being the most effective way, and as a result I believe that motivation to work individually is something that continually needs more attention in order to succeed. Especially as self-regulated learning is important in ensuring that reliance on others is limited (Chau and Cheng, 2010). The time scales that I have set myself in previous reflections have been beneficial as they have let me prioritise certain aspects, meaning that I am more driven to work on them by a certain point.

Alongside the academic side of the course, I have also undertaken some CPD I have completed. According to Peck et al (2000), the importance of CPD is to continually gain new knowledge and skills to become more competent in a certain field. Some of these tasks include attending a snake dissection and peer marking a journal paper alongside fellow students. Over the summer break, myself and fellow students are attending Vet Fest where we hope to make connections and network with people and companies in the Bioveterinary science field. Other ways I wish to continue to gain more CPD is to volunteer in a sector close to the field in which I wish to work in the future. This may include a veterinary practice which I have done in the past, but potentially in other fields.


Chau, J. and Cheng, G. (2010) ‘Towards understanding the potential of e-portfolios for independent learning: A qualitative study.’ Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(7) pp. 932–950.

Peck, C., McCall, M., McLaren, B. and Rotem, T. (2000) ‘Continuing medical education and continuing professional development: international comparisons.’ BMJ : British Medical Journal, 320(7232) pp. 432–435.


Effect of time and pH on enzyme kinetics using acid phosphatase

  1. Introduction

According to Röthlisberger et al (2008), naturally occurring enzymes are extremely efficient catalysts. They do this by the substrate binding directly with their complementary active site, alongside selecting an appropriate catalyst allowing them to undertake a large abundance of chemical reactions. Enzymes are globular proteins and they are made up of long polypeptide chains that arrange themselves into a folded arrangement forming a three-dimensional shape, they are also able to increase the rate of reaction by many magnitudes, from a million to 107(Crowe and Bradshaw, 2014). Acid phosphatase is an enzyme that is widely distributed in microorganisms, plants and animals (Liu et al., 2017). According to Dick et al (2000), acid phosphatase activity reacts to the alkaline phosphatase activity. Acid phosphatase releases a phosphate group under acidic conditions and is vital in many different reactions. It can be found in mammalian tissues such as the prostate, liver, kidney and haematological system, regulating many cellular functions (Liu et al., 2015). The aim of the experiment was to look at the effects of time and pH on enzyme activity based on the enzyme acid phosphatase.

  1. Materials and methods
  • Effect of time on an enzyme catalysed reaction using acid phosphatase

In order to carry out the first part of the experiment, 5 sets of 3 microcentrifuge tubes were labelled A1-E3 based on the length of time the tube was to spend in the water bath set at 30oc. To the microcentrifuge tubes, 0.2mL distilled water, 0.25mL of 0.1M sodium acetate buffer solution (pH 5.0) and 0.25mL pNPP solution (0.5mM) to each tube. These tubes were then left at room temperature for 5 minutes in order to balance the temperature. After the temperature balanced, the tubes were added to a water bath set at 300c and left for 5 minutes. Then, 0.05mL acid phosphatase enzyme (1mg/mL) was added at 1 minute intervals. Incubation happened for 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 minutes. In order to conclude the reaction, 0.5mL sodium carbonate (1M) was added. A blank solution was also prepared in order to determine the absorbance of each reaction mixture. The mixture consisted of 0.2mL distilled water, 0.25mL sodium acetate buffer, 0.25ml pNPP, 0.5mL sodium carbonate, and finally, 0.05mL of acid phosphatase at the same concentrations as mentioned above. The blank solution was used in order to calibrate the spectrophotometer at the wavelength of ƛ=410nm. Equation 1 allows the pNP calibration curve shown in figure 2 to be calculated.


 pNP produced

Equation 1: Relationship between the concentration of pNP produced  produced and the absorbance at ƛ=410nm

  • Effect of pH on an enzyme catalysed reaction using acid phosphatase

The basic procedure as mentioned in part 2.1 was followed in this part of the experiment, however instead of changing the amount of time in which the tubes were placed in the water bath, the pH of the buffer was changed. The pH’s of the buffer solutions were 3, 5, 7 and 9. Incubate the solution in a water bath set at 30oc for 10 minutes. After the solution had been incubated for the full 10 minutes, 0.5mL of sodium carbonate (1M) was added to terminate the reaction. The blank for this reaction was carried out in the same way as experiment 2.1 and again was used to calibrate the spectrophotometer. The absorbance values were then collected, again at a wavelength of ƛ=410nm. Again, the amount of pNP produced was calculated using equation 1. To calculate the rate of reaction, equation 2 was used.

Rate of reaction

Equation 2: Calculation of the rate of reaction for pNP production per minute

  1. Results

Graph 1

Figure 1: pNP concentration against time. This was performed at 30oc and pH 5.0 at time intervals of 5,10, 15, 20 and 30 minutes. The linear phase is represented by the trendline and happens for the first 10 minutes of the reaction


Graph 2.png

Figure 2: Calibration curve of pNP at absorbance ƛ = 410 nm

Graph 3.png

Figure 3: Rate of Reaction against pH of buffer solution at the pH intervals of 3, 5, 7 and 9 measured at 30oc after 10 minutes

An acid phosphatase assay with variations in time was performed so that the results shown in figure 1 could be gathered. Shown in figure 1 is the linear phase and this is between the times of 5 and 10 minutes. After the linear phase has been completed, the reaction begins to plateau with the reaction rate slowing down considerably. The initial rate of the reaction was 0.178 μmol/min.Shown in figure 2 is the calibration curve of pNP compared with the absorbance. The calibration curve enables the conversion of amount of pNP produced into the reaction time. Figure 3 shows the rate of pNP production. It shows the optimum pH for the enzyme acid phosphatase to work at, allowing conclusions to be made about the enzyme.

  1. Discussion

Enzymes are known as natures’ catalyst and due to this they are able to efficiently catalyse a large number of biochemical processes to precise specificity (A novel fluorescence biosensor for sensitivity detection of tyrosinase and acid phosphatase based on nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots, n.d.). Acid phosphatase hydrolyses para-nitrophenol phosphate (pNPP) to pNP, due to dephosphorylation, this however only happens under acidic conditions (Kim and Jin, 2016). In alkaline conditions, the colour of pNP is yellow and due to this change in colour, a spectrophotometer can be used to determine the absorbance of the solution.

The results from the experiment are relatively reliable. The R2value shown in figure 2 is 0.9997, this is extremely reliable as it is very close to 1 and so there is very little deviance and the results are rather accurate. In figure 1, enzyme substrate concentration was the rate limiting factor. This is because eventually the number of substrate molecules outweighed the number of active sites available. Resultantly, no influence was made to increase the rate of reaction, and so the rate plateaued after 10 minutes. According to Bull (2002), human acid phosphatases are generally found at low concentrations. Which is backed up with the results collected and displayed in figure 3 due to the fact that it shows the acid phosphatase works best at a pH of between 3 and 5. From figure 3 we can also see that by pH 9 the acid phosphatase had denatured, and the reaction had completely stopped.  It is also backed up by Behera et al (2017)who stated that the best pH for acid phosphatase to work at is pH 5.

Enzymes only function properly under the correct conditions. These conditions include, temperature, time and pH. This experiment looked into the impact of time and pH on how well the enzyme acid phosphatase works. This is backed up by Crowe and Bradshaw (2014)who stated that most enzymes function best at both a particular pH and temperature and will only continue to work within a narrow range of both the parameters. This was then used to an advantage, as adding the sodium carbonate to the solution, completely terminated the reaction as acid phosphatase does not work in alkaline conditions.

There are many possible factors that may have influenced the results collected including, accuracy and precision of using the micropipette. Precision also varies depending on who is carrying it out, and so variations in the accuracy may be present. There may also be a chance that the glassware may have been contaminated meaning that the enzyme may have worked in a different way than expected. Time was also one of the independent variables of the experiment, and so some tubes containing the solution in may have been left in for slightly longer or shorter periods of time, meaning that the enzyme may not have reacted completely, or the reaction may have proceeded for too long. As shown in figure 3, pH 9 provided no results with the rate of reaction being 0. This was potentially due to the fact that the solution was left in the water bath for too long a period of time.

There are many advances as to what acid phosphatase could potentially be used for. With some of these advances including diagnostic use as histological markers of disease (Bull, 2002).

  1. Conclusion

Acid phosphatase was used to determine the best time and pH of the enzyme and this was used to determine the optimum conditions that the enzyme works at. Over the 30 minute time frame, the enzyme worked best between 5 and 10 minutes with the rate of the reaction being the best during this time period. After this, the enzyme reaction began to decrease as the number of enzyme substrate complexes were decreasing in occupancy. The best pH for the enzyme was between pH 3 and 5, suggesting that the enzyme worked best in more acidic condition. The enzyme did not work at all at more acidic conditions such as pH 9 as the enzyme had denatured and so the active site has changed shape meaning that the substrate could not bind.

  1. References

A novel fluorescence biosensor for sensitivity detection of tyrosinase and acid phosphatase based on nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 17th May 2018]

Behera, B. C., Yadav, H., Singh, S. K., Mishra, R. ., Sethi, B. ., Dutta, S. K. and Thatoi, H. . (2017) ‘Phosphate solubilization and acid phosphatase activity of Serratia sp. isolated from mangrove soil of Mahanadi river delta, Odisha, India.’ Journal of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, 15(1).

Bull, H. (2002) ‘Acid phosphatases.’ Molecular Pathology, 55(2) pp. 65–72.

Crowe, J. and Bradshaw, T. (2014) Chemistry for the Biosciences. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press Inc.

Dick, W. A., Cheng, L. and Wang, P. (2000) ‘Soil acid and alkaline phosphatase activity as pH adjustment indicators.’ Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 32(13) pp. 1915–1919.

Kim, B. Y. and Jin, B. R. (2016) ‘Molecular characterization of a venom acid phosphatase from the Asiatic honeybee Apis cerana.’ Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 19(3) pp. 793–797.

Liu, N.-Y., Fan, X.-H., Zhang, Z.-Q., Wu, G.-X. and Zhu, J.-Y. (2017) ‘Molecular and enzymatic characterization of acid phosphatase from venom of Scleroderma guani.’ Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 20(4) pp. 1434–1441.

Liu, Z., Lin, Z., Liu, L. and Su, X. (2015) ‘A convenient and label-free fluorescence “turn off–on” nanosensor with high sensitivity and selectivity for acid phosphatase.’ Analytica Chimica Acta, 876, May, pp. 83–90.

Röthlisberger, D., Khersonsky, O., Wollacott, A. M., Jiang, L., DeChancie, J., Betker, J., Gallaher, J. L., Althoff, E. A., Zanghellini, A., Dym, O., Albeck, S., Houk, K. N., Tawfik, D. S. and Baker, D. (2008) ‘Kemp elimination catalysts by computational enzyme design.’ Nature, 453(7192) pp. 190–195.


Molecular Biology Report – Meiosis

There are two main types of cell division; mitosis and meiosis. The result of meiosis is daughter cells which are genetically different from their parent cells, compared with mitosis, where the daughter cells are genetically identical to their parent cells (Reece et al., 2011). Meiosis is a vital part of the life cycle of all sexually reproducing organisms (Schwarzacher, 2003). The process is important to ensure that the number of chromosomes in the gamete is both not too high or too low, which as a result could cause a variety of chromosomal diseases to arise, for example Down Syndrome. Chromosomal abnormalities also occur due to sex chromosomes failing to separate correctly. Due to the impacts on life that issues in the number of chromosomes can cause, it is vital that meiosis is carried out correctly by cells. In order to ensure that this process occurs successfully, there are many checkpoints that determine whether the cell has divided correctly. Animals such as the sheep do not possess the same number of chromosomes and so their chromosomal defects are not the same as those in humans. Meiosis is also important to ensure that there are differences in the gene pool to ensure genetic variation, where the four haploid cells produced fuse during fertilisation. The result is two gametes combining to form a diploid cell.

The process of meiosis was discovered by Edouard Van Beneden between 1883 and 1884. This discovery has been one of the most important advancements in hereditary at the end of the 19thcentury (HAMOIR, 1992). Meiosis is extremely important for molecular biology due to the fact that if abnormalities occur, there can be many consequences that last throughout the life of the person suffering. Due to this, it is important that regular checks are undertaken throughout the process of DNA replication in order to reduce the chance of this occurring.

The main importance of meiosis is for the division of chromosomes. By combining the two rounds of  meiotic DNA replication, a mechanism to produce haploid gametes is provided (Burke, 2018). During meiosis, a complete cell cycle is undertaken followed by consecutive rounds of both meiosis I and II (Tsubouchi and Roeder, 2003). Within the process, there are eight different steps in which they are split in to two different divisions called meiosis I and meiosis II which are both extremely similar to one another. Within these divisions, the four individual steps are Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase and Telophase.

During prophase I the chromosomes become visible, condense along with the nuclear envelope disappearing. Also during prophase I, the recombination of chromosomes occurs which causes the distribution of genomic diversity (Ikeya et al., 1996). After this, metaphase I begins where the homologous chromosomes line up along the equator of the cell, the spindle fibres are completely formed (Audesirk et al., 2016). During anaphase I the homologous chromosomes separate and complete independent assortment and finally, during telophase I the chromatids decondense with the result being the haploid nuclei with separate replicated chromatids. As stated by Jones and Jones (2008), cytokinesis occurs at the same time as telophase I.

Meiosis then progresses onto the second stage. During prophase II, the chromosomes condense as they did during prophase I as well as attaching to the sister chromatids. Then during metaphase II, the replicated chromosomes realign themselves along the equator of the cell. During anaphase II the centromeres split along with the chromatids separating, the previous chromatids also move towards each pole (Jones and Jones, 2008). Finally, during telophase II the chromatids decondense, and four haploid cells are formed (Wilkins and Holliday, 2008). Cytokinesis then occurs, and resultantly, the four haploid cells each acquire one member of each pair of homologous chromosomes (Jones and Jones, 2008).

Meiosis sometimes fails during anaphase I where one or more pairs of homologous chromosomes are not able to reach the opposite poles of the cell. Alongside this, centromere tension may also be necessary for spindle elongation as well as some segregation (Champion and Hawley, 2002).  Hassold et al (2007)states that errors in meiosis I are much more common than they are within the process of meiosis II. To quote Alberts et al (2015)mistakes in meiosis can be very common in female humans, which can result in miscarriage or mental illness and resultantly chromosomal deviation is one of the most common causes of human death (Nicolaidis and Peterson, 1998). Homologous chromosomes sometimes fail to separate during the process of meiosis I or the sister chromatids may fail to separate during meiosis II (Karp, 2005).

Down syndrome (DS) is a cause of mental defectiveness and is the result of an extra chromosome 21 (Korenberg et al., 1994). According to Yoon et al (1996), around 95% of DS cases are a result of trisomy 21, which generally results from nondisjunction throughout meiosis and is the most common chromosomal imperfection resulting in mental disability (Valenti et al., 2018). Over time, the ability to be able to improve the life expectancy of people suffering with DS has increased considerably. According to Karp (2005), although chromosome 21 is the smallest of all the human chromosomes, the fact that failure of meiosis results in an extra copy causes serious health implications. During meiosis, the pairs of chromosomes in set 21 fail to successfully separate and resultantly, one cell will have 24 chromosomes, with the other having 22 chromosomes (Diamandopoulos and Green, 2018). This occurs when either the sperm or ovum fails to separate successfully.

Edwards’ syndrome (ES), also known as trisomy 18, is another chromosomal disease that occurs as a result of meiosis. ES is an autosomal trisomy condition, which is the second most common with 1 in 8000 people having the condition (Boghosian-Sell et al., 1994). The chromosomal altercation affects many systems and the condition results in a high risk of foetal death (Springett and Morris, 2014). According to Chen and Chien (2007)there has been molecular analysis of the extra copy of chromosome 18 and this has identified that over 90% of cases caused due to nondisjunction during meiosis II. Klug and Cummings (2003)have stated that people with trisomy 18 usually pass away with conditions such as pneumonia or heart failure.

In order to detect chromosomal abnormalities, different tests are carried out during the pregnancy of the mother. One of the ways that detection happens is by using sonography and it has been reported that foetuses with trisomy 21 and 18 alongside trisomy 13 have sonographic characteristics which imply that they have unusual karyotypes (Benacerraf et al., 1992). As a result of this research, the results have suggested that characteristics such as a thickened nuchal fold was 67.4% positive for all three types of trisomy. The detection of trisomy disorders is becoming increasingly common as technology and medical advances continue to improve. Trisomy 21 is able to be detected before birth by examining the foetal cells chromosomes as well as biochemical tests and ultrasounds, however these two methods tend to have less certainty (Jones and Jones, 2008). According to Ehrich et al (2011)rapid advances in sequencing technologies are available to extract individual genomes and thus they become available as a standard source for medically genetic information.

To conclude,  the process of meiosis halves the number of chromosomes, decreasing the number of sets from two to one (Reece et al., 2011). Although the process is similar to that of mitosis, there are many significant differences between the two contrasting types of cell division. In order for meiosis to occur, the cells must commit after the first round of meiosis before progressing on to the second round (Esposito and Esposito, 1974). During the first division the chromosomes then move to opposite poles of the cell. Then at the second division, the sister chromatids move to the opposite poles overall producing four haploid cells (Kleckner, 1996). Due to the fact that meiosis can only occur due to it being confirmed after the first round of meiosis, it means that the likelihood of chromosomal defects occurring are minimised further. When the process of meiosis goes considerably wrong, chromosomal defects can occur. As a result of these chromosomal defects, a wide range of health implications can arise minimising the life expectancy of people with the trisomy defects. Both trisomy 18 and trisomy 21 are genetic disorders whereby cells acquire an extra copy of a certain chromosome (Nakamura et al., 2014). Both trisomy 21 and 18 are the two most common forms of chromosomal defects. Detection of these trisomy defects has become more accessible as the improvement of technology has vastly advanced.


Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Morgan, D., Raff, M., Roberts, K. and Walter, P. (2015) Molecular Biology of the Cell. 6th ed., New York, United States: Garland Science.

Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G. and Byers, B. E. (2016) Biology Life on Earth with Physiology. 11th ed., Pearson Education.

Benacerraf, B. R., Neuberg, D., Bromley, B. and Frigoletto, F. D. (1992) ‘Sonographic scoring index for prenatal detection of chromosomal abnormalities.’ Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, 11.

Boghosian-Sell, L., Mewar, R., Harrison, W., Shapiro, R. M., Zackai, E. H., Carey, J., Davis-Keppen, L., Hudgins, L. and Overhauser, J. (1994) ‘Molecular mapping of the Edwards syndrome phenotype to two noncontiguous regions on chromosome 18.’ American Journal of Human Genetics, 55(3) pp. 476–483.

Burke, B. (2018) ‘LINC complexes as regulators of meiosis.’ Current Opinion in Cell Biology, 52, June, pp. 22–29.

Champion, M. D. and Hawley, R. S. (2002) ‘Playing for half the deck: the molecular biology of meiosis.’ Nature Cell Biology, 4, October, pp. S50–S56.

Chen, C.-P. and Chien, S.-C. (2007) ‘Prenatal Sonographic Features of Trisomy 13.’ Journal of Medical Ultrasound, 15(1) pp. 58–66.

Diamandopoulos, K. and Green, J. (2018) ‘Down syndrome: An integrative review.’ Journal of Neonatal Nursing, February.

Ehrich, M., Deciu, C., Zwiefelhofer, T., Tynan, J. A., Cagasan, L., Tim, R., Lu, V., McCullough, R., McCarthy, E., Nygren, A. O. H., Dean, J., Tang, L., Hutchison, D., Lu, T., Wang, H., Angkachatchai, V., Oeth, P., Cantor, C. R., Bombard, A. and van den Boom, D. (2011) ‘Noninvasive detection of fetal trisomy 21 by sequencing of DNA in maternal blood: a study in a clinical setting.’ American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 204(3) pp. 205.e1-205.e11.

Esposito, R. E. and Esposito, M. S. (1974) ‘Genetic Recombination and Commitment to Meiosis in Saccharomyces.’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 71(8) pp. 3172–3176.

HAMOIR, G. (1992) ‘The discovery of meiosis by E. Van Beneden, a breakthrough in the morphological phase of heredity’ p. 7.

Hassold, T., Hall, H. and Hunt, P. (2007) ‘The origin of human aneuploidy: where we have been, where we are going.’ Human Molecular Genetics, 16(R2) pp. R203–R208.

Ikeya, T., Shinohara, A., Sato, S., Tabata, S. and Ogawa, T. (1996) ‘Localization of mouse Rad51 and Lim15 proteins on meiotic chromosomes at late stages of prophase 1.’ Genes to Cells, 1.

Jones, M. and Jones, G. (2008) Advanced Biology. Cambridge.

Karp, G. (2005) Cell and Molecular Biology. 4th ed., United States: Wiley.

Kleckner, N. (1996) ‘Review Meiosis: How could it work?’ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USAp. 8.

Klug, W. S. and Cummings, M. R. (2003) Genetics: A molecular Perspective. 1st ed., United States: Pearson Education.

Korenberg, J. R., Chen, X. N., Schipper, R., Sun, Z., Gonsky, R., Gerwehr, S., Carpenter, N., Daumer, C., Dignan, P. and Disteche, C. (1994) ‘Down syndrome phenotypes: the consequences of chromosomal imbalance.’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91(11) pp. 4997–5001.

Nakamura, K., Ishikawa, N., Izumiyama, N., Aida, J., Kuroiwa, M., Hiraishi, N., Fujiwara, M., Nakao, A., Kawakami, T., Poon, S. S. S., Matsuura, M., Sawabe, M., Arai, T. and Takubo, K. (2014) ‘Telomere lengths at birth in trisomies 18 and 21 measured by Q-FISH.’ Gene, 533(1) pp. 199–207.

Nicolaidis, P. and Peterson, M. B. (1998) ‘Origin and mechanisms of non-disjunction in human autosomal trisomes.’ Human Reproduction, 13(2) pp. 313–319.

Reece, J. B., Urry, L. A., Cain, M. L., Wasserman, S. A., Minorsky, P. V. and Jackson, R. B. (2011) Campbell Biology. 9th ed., San Francisco, United States: Pearson.

Schwarzacher, T. (2003) ‘Meiosis, recombination and chromosomes: a review of gene isolation and fluorescent in situ hybridization data in plants.’ Journal of Experimental Botany, 54(380) pp. 11–23.

Springett, A. L. and Morris, J. K. (2014) ‘Antenatal detection of Edwards (Trisomy 18) and Patau (Trisomy 13) syndrome: England and Wales 2005-2012.’ Journal of Medical Screening, 21(3) pp. 113–119.

Tsubouchi, H. and Roeder, G. S. (2003) ‘The Importance of Genetic Recombination for Fidelity of Chromosome Pairing in Meiosis.’ Developmental Cell, 5(6) pp. 915–925.

Valenti, D., Braidy, N., De Rasmo, D., Signorile, A., Rossi, L., Atanasov, A. G., Volpicella, M., Henrion-Caude, A., Nabavi, S. M. and Vacca, R. A. (2018) ‘Mitochondria as pharmacological targets in Down syndrome.’ Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 114, January, pp. 69–83.

Wilkins, A. S. and Holliday, R. (2008) ‘The Evolution of Meiosis From Mitosis.’ Genetics, 181(1) pp. 3–12.

Yoon, P. W., Freeman, S. B., Sherman, S. L., Taft, L. F., Gu, Y., Pettay, D., Flanders, W. D., Khoury, M. J. and Hassold, T. J. (1996) ‘Advanced maternal age and the risk of Down syndrome characterized by the meiotic stage of chromosomal error: a population-based study.’ American Journal of Human Genetics, 58(3) pp. 628–633.


Personal and Professional Development Plan

Personal and professional development are important aspects in all areas of the science sector. Working on these development plans is a beneficial way of helping decide what career path I want to take once graduated. Continuing professional development (CPD) is a way to progress knowledge, skills and confidence within a certain area (Council, 2013).

One way in which I plan to improve my professional development is by attending careers fairs organised by different societies such as the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). This will allow me to make connections with different companies and organisations allowing me to network successfully. I believe that this will help me to come to a greater understanding of the variety of graduate roles available as well as the different possibilities of postgraduate study options. In the future, my main goal is to go onto a Postgraduate Veterinary Medicine course, however, there is always the possibility that once I have completed my degree I may decide to take a different professional path.

Showing a wider interest in the veterinary industry will help enhance my application to   Postgraduate Veterinary School. So far, in order to do this, I have completed a large amount of work experience in a veterinary practice for a total of six months over the course of three years which has enabled me to gain a great insight into working in a veterinary practice. Alongside this, I have also completed a week of work experience in both kennels and cattery. Together with this, relevant work experience is needed, for example experiencing veterinary practice for both small animal and large animals. It would also be beneficial to complete work with exotic animals. According to Cranmer (2006), It has been shown that significant work experience has positive effects on a graduates future. Since being at university I have attended a python dissection organised by my university, as well as also helping to peer review a journal paper which ultimately decided whether or not the paper was going to be accepted for publication or not. This has allowed me to explore different writing styles and has encouraged me to develop my academic writing which I shall continue to improve over the duration of this course. A positive way to improve my academic writing is to review my past assignments that have been marked and to view the feedback. Looking at the feedback means that I am able to look at the things that I have done well and not so well allowing me to improve on them.

We have been fortunate to be able to access the IDEXX laboratories student section with access to a large variety of information and quizzes enabling me to continually improve my knowledge in specific areas such as blood cytology. To keep improving this knowledge, I shall utilise the website more. We have also had many talks regarding CPD and from this I have come to the understanding that it is very important to continually work on this throughout my student life and continue this through into my professional career. To achieve these goals, I believe that there are some skill gaps that I need to address. Since being at university I feel as though my time management has improved, however, I still feel as though there is room for improvement. In order to do this, I shall plan my time more effectively looking into the future more so that I always have adequate amounts of time to complete work. I also believe that I have a good understanding of different scientific concepts, meaning I am able to develop different aspects continually both during lectures as well as independent study. To display this, I have used a Gantt chart showing the different start dates I intend to use, and when I hope to have finished them by.

Gant Chart


Council, G. D. (2013) ‘Continuing professional development.’ Online information available at http://www. gdc-uk. org/Dentalprofessionals/CPD/Pages/default. aspx (accessed December 2011).

Cranmer, S. (2006) ‘Enhancing graduate employability: best intentions and mixed outcomes.’ Studies in Higher Education, 31(2) pp. 169–184.

Urinalysis Laboratory Report

Laboratory Report – URINALYSIS


The purpose of this experiment was to look at the different quantitative and qualitative aspects of urine. Whilst collecting this data, we looked at different parameters such as; colour, clarity and odour. According to White (1991), urinalysis has been very important in the past for use of diagnostic medicine even prior to the  chemical analysis of urine. Urinalysis is often commonly used for emergencies on patients with urinary tract infections (Lammers et al., 2001). We completed a wide range of tasks within the whole experiment, consisting of a specific gravity (SG) urinalysis, a urine dipstick analysis as well as many urine smear analysis’ using unstained and stained samples. In order to stain the sample, we used both Rapi-Diff II stains and methylene blue stains. The aim of the SG urinalysis is to look at the differences in specific gravity of urine. In order to determine the SG of urine, a refractometer (figure 1) is used. The refractometer quantitatively displays how hydrated the sample is (Wyness et al., 2016). The SG is the ratio of the density of a substance compared with a standard (Wyness et al., 2016) which, in the case of this experiment was distilled water. According to Falakaflaki et al (2011) dipstick urinalysis provides data about many different physiochemical properties of the urine being tested.


Figure 1: Refractometer (Aranas, 2013)

The results that we collected could lead to many different conclusions, such as lower urinary tract diseases, change in clarity of urine, infectious diseases and many more (Chew et al., 2004). The purpose of this report is to provide an insight into the potential uses of urinalysis as well as both the pros and cons of using both biochemical methods as well as diagnostics as urine holds a large amount of information (Delanghe and Speeckaert, 2016).

Materials and methods

Urine SG analysis materials

  • Refractometer
  • Distilled water
  • Paper towel
  • Urine

In order to complete the urine SG analysis, add a drop of distilled water onto the refractometer (as seen in figure 1), after closing the cap aim at a light source, checking the horizontal line aligns with zero. If the horizontal line does not align with zero, adjust the refractometer ensuring that it does so. Wipe dry with some paper towel, add a drop of urine onto the refractometer and finally, aim at a light source and read the specific gravity.

Urine dipstick analysis materials

  • Dipstick colour block to compare with
  • Pasteur pipette
  • Urine

To complete the urine dipstick analysis, take a dipstick from the pot, closing it immediately. Then, using a Pasteur pipette, add a drop of urine onto each pad on the dipstick allowing it to stand for 60 seconds. Lastly, read each pad against the diagram on the pot (as shown in figure 2).

Urine dipstick test

   Figure 2: Urine dipstick test(J3D3, 2012)

Urine smear analysis’ materials

  • Micro centrifuge pipette
  • Centrifuge machine
  • Microscope slide
  • Light microscope
  • Rapi-diff solutions
  • Absorbent paper
  • Distilled water
  • Methylene blue
  • Urine

For the urine smear analysis’ there are three separate methods that need to be completed. First of all, the unstained sample should be completed. To start with, add 2ml of urine to a micro centrifuge tube and close it, centrifuge the tube at 1500 rpm for 4 minutes. After the sample has been centrifuged, decant the supernatant, being careful to ensure all of the sediment remains (0.5ml of urine should remain). Agitate the tube and place a small drop of urine on a microscope slide, prepare a smear as shown in figure 3 allowing the smear to air dry. Conclusively, analyse the smear under a microscope when completely dry view under the microscope at both 40x and 400x magnification.

To undertake the first staining method – Rapi-Diff II, agitate the previously used tube and place a small drop of urine on a microscope slide, again preparing the smear as shown in figure 3, let the smear dry. Immerse the slide in the Rapi-Diff II solution A for 5 seconds. Transfer without rinsing to solution B, dipping and withdrawing the slide 5 times, allowing 1-2 seconds in between dips, drain any excess stain onto absorbent paper and rinse with distilled water. Transfer slide to solution C and dip 5 times, allowing 1-2 seconds in between dips, rinse with distilled water and allow to air dry. Analyse under a microscope at both 40x and 400x magnification.

Finally, the last staining method is to stain the sample with a methylene blue stain. To complete this, add a drop of methylene blue to the previously used tube and close it, agitate the tube again. Place a small drop of urine on a new microscope slide, prepare a smear (as shown in figure 3). Finally, analyse under a microscope at both 40x and 400x magnification.

How to create a blood smear

Figure 3: How to create a blood smear (Blood cytology, n.d.)

This experiment entailed a number of different aspects, therefore, the methods involved were much more complex as well as time consuming.


From all of the data we collected, there was no value that suggested our urine specimen indicated any serious abnormal issues.  For the urine SG analysis, the urine scored 1.020, this value suggests that the urine sample was well hydrated, therefore suggesting no issues. From the dipstick analysis, we compared the test strip with the colour chart (as shown in figure 4). Looking at the chart enabled us to identify any anomalies that were out of range as to what is considered ‘normal’. From our results, most of the indicators were in range, for example, the pH of the blood was 7.0, and the amount of glucose in the blood was negative. However, there was a trace of protein in the urine, which could raise some concerns as to the overall health of the animal.

Table 1: Results of urine dipstick analysis

Component of urine Result
Leukocytes Negative
Nitrite Negative
Urobilinogen (mg/dL) 0.2
Protein (mg/dL) Trace
pH 7
Blood Negative
Specific gravity 1.015
Ketone (mg/dL) Negative
Bilirubin Negative
Glucose (g/dL) Negative

Urinalysis colour chartFigure 4: Urinalysis test strip colour chart (Urinalysis Test Strip Color Chart |, n.d.)

From all of the urine smear analysis’ put together, we could see that there was very few issues indicated. Although there were a very few number of crystals, there were not enough to raise any indication of major health problems. The stain that provided the most detailed slide was the methylene blue stained slide. Although there was not much to identify on each of the slides, the methylene blue slide did allow us to see the very few small crystals that were in the urine.


After completing the experiment, we found out that we had a young male dog. This suggests that the results we collected correlated with the age of the dog due to the fact that a dog below the age of 1 is not likely to have many health issues.

The urine SG analysis score was 1.020 which is in range. For moderately concentrated urine, the SG of a dogs urine should be between 1.013 and 1.029 (IRIS Kidney – Education – Using Urine Specific Gravity, n.d.). The pH was also in range at 7.0. the range for urine in a healthy dog is between 5.5 and 7.0 (Urinalysis: Testing a Urine Sample, n.d.).

As stated in the results, there was a trace of protein found in the urine sample. Which if bigger, this trace could suggest issues such as a small abnormality within the kidney, such as with glomerular filtration. However, as only a small trace was found this is not likely to be the case. The small number of crystals visible in the urine smear analysis are small clusters of different minerals in the urine. These crystals could have formed due to the fact that the urine was left for longer than 30 minutes before testing, which is not desired (Callens and Bartges, 2015).

Although between the SG analysis and the dipstick analysis there was a slight difference in score for the specific gravity. The difference is not significant enough to state that one method is completely incorrect. Instead, to have both methods is advantageous to rule out any anomalies.

As with all research, there are always weaknesses with the methods used in order to obtain the results. As an example, within this experiment, there could have been an incorrect time delay after placing the urine on the dipstick test strip, which many have negatively affected the results as the reagent could have reacted with the urine more than desired.

Overall, the results of the experiment undertaken provided enough evidence to come to the decision that there were no health issues associated to the dog. Although there was some evidence suggesting that there may be health issues, there is not enough of a deviance from ‘normal’ to suggest that the health of the animal is being compromised.


To conclude, urinalysis is a good way of identifying many health issues that may have arisen for a range of different species. Throughout the experiment completed, there were some issues that occurred, however they were rectified suitably, allowing us to come to a valid result and conclusion. In our sample, there were few visible issues identifiable by urinalysis. However, these issues were not detrimental to the health of the dog and so resultantly health issues such as kidney stones can be ruled out. As a first call, urinalysis is able to detect many health issues such as liver failure and hemolysis (Callens and Bartges, 2015).



Reference list

Aranas, Ce., Uwe (2013) English: Portable Refractometer.

Blood cytology (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 31st December 2017]

Callens, A. J. and Bartges, J. W. (2015) ‘Urinalysis.’ Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 45(4) pp. 621–637.

Chew, D. J., DiBartola, S. P. and Nestlé Purina PetCare Company (2004) Interpretation of canine and feline urinalysis. Wilmington, Del.: Gloyd Group.

Delanghe, J. R. and Speeckaert, M. M. (2016) ‘Preanalytics in urinalysis.’ Clinical Biochemistry, 49(18) pp. 1346–1350.

Falakaflaki, B., Mousavinasab, S. N. and Mazloomzadeh, S. (2011) ‘Dipstick Urinalysis Screening of Healthy Neonates.’ Pediatrics & Neonatology, 52(3) pp. 161–164.

IRIS Kidney – Education – Using Urine Specific Gravity (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 9th January 2018]

J3D3 (2012) English: A urine test strip photo. (Multistix – Siemens Medical Solutions Diagnostics).

Lammers, R. L., Gibson, S., Kovacs, D., Sears, W. and Strachan, G. (2001) ‘Comparison of test characteristics of urine dipstick and urinalysis at various test cutoff points.’ Annals of Emergency Medicine, 38(5) pp. 505–512.

Urinalysis Test Strip Color Chart | (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 6th January 2018]

Urinalysis: Testing a Urine Sample (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 9th January 2018]

White, W. I. (1991) ‘A new look at the role of urinalysis in the history of diagnostic medicine.’ Clinical chemistry, 37(1) pp. 119–125.

Wyness, S. P., Hunsaker, J. J. H., Snow, T. M. and Genzen, J. R. (2016) ‘Evaluation and analytical validation of a handheld digital refractometer for urine specific gravity measurement.’ Practical Laboratory Medicine, 5, August, pp. 65–74.


Fundamentals in Bioveterinary Science – Task D

Reflective piece

Compared with my original reflective piece, I feel as though my interpretation of both maths and chemistry has improved. Firstly, we have covered a wider range of topics within the module such as organic chemistry and osmosis which I have a much better grasp of due to the fact that I completed A levels in both Biology and Chemistry. Due to the greater understanding that I was fortunate to have, it meant that I was able to help my peers understand different aspects covered within this module, which resultantly allowed myself to solidify what I had learnt. This resulted in a positive learning experience for both myself and my peers and has been supported by Glynn et al (2006) who states that peer assisted learning shows positive impacts on exam results as well as personal development. There are many transferable skills, such as acting independently, team work and numeracy (Allan, 1996) and I believe that I have successfully improved these transferable skills since my prior self-reflection. The organic chemistry worksheet we completed targeted a wide range of areas, such as naming a variety of compounds of various difficulties. We also used Molymods within these lectures, which I believe helped me put into practice what I had learnt. Another resource I used was (Chemistry for Biologists: Some basic chemistry, n.d.), with this website allowing me to read a wide range of notes, and then complete a test in order to solidify what I had just learnt.

I also believe that my comprehension of maths has improved greatly due to the fact that I have completed a wider array of questions from the textbook ‘Core maths for the biosciences’ (Reed, 2011), which I had used prior, progressing onto the more complicated questions as my clarification improved. Alongside this, I also applied my knowledge from the ‘Essential Laboratory Techniques’ module, putting my understanding of the maths required in the questions into real life practice. Although my knowledge of maths has improved, I still feel as though there is room for improvement as there are aspects, such as converting units that I still need prompting on sometimes.

As stated in my previous self-reflection, I believed that working in a group was the most effective and pro-active approach for me.  Since this, the amount of group work that I have completed has increased, and I believe that this has contributed to my greater understanding.  According to Ginsberg-Block et al (2006) peer assisted learning brings together both strong affective and academic learning strategies. My time management also improved as the number of lectures increased. This has meant that I am able to set more time aside for reviewing work that I have completed that week as well as solidifying my knowledge.  This benefited me as according to MacCann et al (2012), more effective time management is concordant with higher academic success.

In order to enhance my understanding in the future, I shall continue to answer a wide range of questions whilst applying my knowledge to a wider range of topics, hoping to further develop my understanding in the future.



Allan, J. (1996) ‘Learning outcomes in higher education.’ Studies in Higher Education, 21(1) pp. 93–108.

Chemistry for Biologists: Some basic chemistry (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 2nd January 2018]

Ginsberg-Block, M., Rohrbeck, C., W. Fantuzzo, J. and C. Lavigne, N. (2006) Peer assisted learning strategies.

Glynn, L. G., MacFarlane, A., Kelly, M., Cantillon, P. and Murphy, A. W. (2006) ‘Helping each other to learn – a process evaluation of peer assisted learning.’ BMC Medical Education, 6(1).

MacCann, C., Fogarty, G. J. and Roberts, R. D. (2012) ‘Strategies for success in education: Time management is more important for part-time than full-time community college students.’ Learning and Individual Differences, 22(5) pp. 618–623.

Reed, M. B. (2011) Core Maths for the Biosciences. 1st ed., New York, United States: Oxford University Press Inc.