Liz is Associate Professor of Veterinary Education and Sub-Dean for Teaching, Learning and Assessment at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham. Liz graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2000 and initially worked in a number of assistant roles in mixed, small animal and equine practice in the Midlands. In 2006 Liz joined the University of Nottingham as a teacher and lecturer, whilst continuing in equine practice, before becoming head of teaching in 2012.
Liz completed a Masters in Clinical Education in 2007 and a PhD in Veterinary Education in 2012 with a thesis focusing on the definition and teaching of professionalism to undergraduates. Liz is a member of the Veterinary Schools Council Education Committee, the RCVS VN Education Subcommittee, and a Trustee of the Wikivet Educational Foundation.
My motivation to become a member of the Vet Futures Action Group was the desire to be part of something with a real potential to have an impact on the profession I love. As a teacher at Nottingham Vet School (but very much a general practitioner at heart) I am very lucky to be involved with educating the vets of the future, and I strongly believe it is important that veterinary educators engage with the profession in all contexts and ensure the graduates we are producing are appropriately equipped for the wide range of roles and opportunities available.
Of course this is a real challenge – after all, the veterinary degree has been five years long for many years, but the amount of veterinary knowledge has exponentially increased in that time! Veterinary teaching has changed hugely in order to accommodate this and ensure graduates don’t just know enough information, but have appropriate practical and professional skills to be able to deal with what they don’t know. Having said that, I don’t think any of the schools would claim to have a perfect curriculum, and we are always changing and innovating to provide the best possible experience for our students, in the challenging environment that is higher education today.
The education theme runs through most of the Vet Futures recommendations and so I have had the task of advising and discussing a range of ideas with the other Action Group members. This has been stimulating and challenging at the same time, and part of my role has included collecting information from all the schools about curricular content on several of the key topics, including the teaching of ethics, teamworking, reflective practice, career planning and information on the wide range of peer support systems now in place across the schools.
It has been a great opportunity to demonstrate the different approaches used and also to identify where action points can help to consolidate and enhance areas of the curriculum. It has also been exciting to consider how we might predict the content of the future veterinary Day-one Competences, especially in the context of the One Health agenda. I am not sure we will manage to make the crystal ball function correctly, but I think we can have a very good try!
The action I am proudest of is the careers hub. Career planning and employability is something I am passionate about and it will be great to bring together expertise and ideas from across the profession, to try to really engage students and vets with the huge range of opportunities which are out there. There was a strong feeling of agreement on this action point right from the beginning of our meetings, and this was definitely not the case for all areas! Several of us within the Group have had slightly ‘alternative’ careers, and we felt it was very important that the veterinary degree is seen as a starting point for everything from general practice to specialisation to research, academia, business and a whole lot more.
I will watch with interest as the action points take shape and hope very much to be a continuing part of the Vet Futures initiative.