Be part of #TheBigPicture with Graduate Outcomes Consultation

On 15 November 2018 the RCVS launched one of its most ambitious consultations yet regarding the future of veterinary education and how the profession can better help support veterinary graduates through the transition into life in practice.

Launching at the London Vet Show 2018 with a call to be part of #TheBigPicturethe Graduate Outcomes Consultation asks for the views of all veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, veterinary students and other stakeholders in a broad range of areas related to how veterinary students are educated and trained, and how recent graduates are prepared and supported into life in practice.

Professor Stephen May (pictured), RCVS Senior Vice-President and Chair of the Graduate Outcomes Working Group which developed the consultation, said: “For some time it has been apparent that there is often a mismatch between the way that veterinary students are educated and their expectations of life in practice, and the realities which they encounter. This can often lead to problems with mental health and wellbeing and therefore recruitment and retention.

“This is not unique to the UK. Veterinary educators around the world are recognising the dangers of ‘knowledge overload’ as veterinary students are exposed to more and more advances in technical and scientific knowledge, in an ever-wider range of areas, which has made the development of crucial professional skills such as communication, decision-making, ethics and reflection more of a challenge within curricula where there is limited space.

“This impression was cemented by the research we conducted with the British Veterinary Association as part of our joint Vet Futures project in which there was a strong message from recent graduates that many of them were struggling with the transition into working life.

“One of the key actions of the Vet Futures Action Plan, published in 2016, was therefore to conduct a wide-ranging, root-and-branch review of outcomes for veterinary graduates and how they could be improved, encompassing the veterinary degree and the important first year in practice.

“Since 2016 we have been busy liaising with stakeholders, organisations, educators and others to work out where we think the key areas for potential change can be found and to develop a series of questions for the profession on how improvements can be made; in particular, how we rebalance curricular content to develop capable professionals. We are now proud to be able to launch this consultation to the profession at large.”

The consultation will encompass four core areas identified by the Working Group. These are:

  • Day One Competences – the skills and attributes required by veterinary graduates to work safely and independently upon entering practice. The consultation will be seeking feedback on a new overarching model for the Day One Competences, and some specific competences, encompassing a greater focus on those critically important ‘professional skills’ such as communication, collaboration, self-reflection and clinical reasoning.
  • The Professional Development Phase (PDP) – a period of structured learning and development for recent graduates that acts as a structured bridge between life as a veterinary student and clinical practice. The consultation builds on research conducted last year with the profession, which identified a need for a more structured PDP programme, and the consultation is now asking for feedback on what this could look like.
  • Extra-mural studies (EMS) – the consultation will be asking questions about how EMS placements should best be implemented, to achieve a more consistent quality and value for veterinary students. The consultation will also explore whether EMS could be revised to fall towards the end of the veterinary degree and act as a bridge between the degree and the Professional Development Phase.
  • Clinical education for General Practice – this element of the consultation will be looking at how the veterinary degree can ensure there is an appropriate balance of general practice and specialist experience so that students are prepared for as wide an array of clinical experiences as possible.

Promoting the consultation over the two days of the London Vet Show and throughout the nine-week consultation period, the RCVS will also be running a social media campaign under the hashtag #TheBigPicture, to help raise awareness of the scale and importance of this review and encourage all veterinary surgeons, nurses and students to take part, as well as those in the broader veterinary team.

Professor Susan Dawson, Chair of the RCVS Education Committee, at the Graduate Outcomes pre-launch in October 2018 “It is fair to say that this is one of the most ambitious consultations the College has carried out in at least the past 20 years,” said Professor Susan Dawson (pictured), Chair of  the RCVS Education Committee and member of the Graduate Outcomes Working Group, “but it will only succeed if we have the support and input of as many veterinary professionals as possible.

“Our ‘Big Picture’ campaign therefore refers not only to the sheer scale and importance of the areas under consultation, but also to the need to encourage everyone to submit their views, no matter what stage they are in their career, or in what sector of the profession they work. Their constructive feedback will be critical to ensure we get this right, as this will affect not just those qualifying in the next few years, but potentially the next generation of veterinary graduates.

“With such a big picture to consider, we sincerely hope that they can set aside some time to send us their views, and I can assuredly say it will be time very well spent.”

The consultation exercise is being carried out on behalf of the RCVS by the independent research consultancy, Work Psychology Group (WPG).

In mid-November, WPG emailed every RCVS-registered veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse with a unique link to the online consultation. It is expected that respondents will need to set some time aside to answer the consultation in full, so this personalised link will enable them to submit their views in stages, and pick up where they left off.

The RCVS is also hoping that veterinary students, veterinary organisations and all those in the wider veterinary team will also be able to submit their views via a general link to the online consultation.

The deadline for responding to this first stage of the Graduate Outcomes Consultation is Friday 18 January 2019. The second stage of the consultation, in the first quarter of 2019, will consist of focus groups and interviews with selected respondents.

#Timeforchange: Do women in the veterinary profession still face discrimination?

Women in the veterinary profession still face discrimination and it is those who believe they are no longer experiencing it who are most likely to discriminate, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Exeter, working with the British Veterinary Association (BVA), surveyed approximately 260 UK-based employers, partners, and managers to see whether they would show bias when reviewing the work record of male and female vets. The study, designed by Dr Chris Begeny and Professor Michelle Ryan and launched at BVA Congress at London Vet Show today (15 November), showed that gender discrimination was present in many of the employers’ recommendations on pay, competence and career advice but was most prominent among those who believe that ‘discrimination against women in the veterinary profession is no longer a problem’.

Dr Begeny said:

“The results of the study offer compelling evidence that discrimination against women not only exists, but is in fact most commonly perpetuated by those who, perhaps ironically, believe that women do not face discrimination. Contrary to those beliefs our results clearly demonstrate that discrimination is still a problem, negatively impacting the careers of women in this profession. But not everyone is necessarily contributing to this inequality. Instead it seems there may be a subset of individuals—substantial in size, but a subset no less—who may need to take a little extra time at work to consider whether their own bias is affecting their judgement on which of their employees or colleagues are truly most competent and capable.”

The experimental study asked respondents to review a recent performance evaluation of a vet. Everyone in the study was shown the same evaluation but half of the respondents were randomly assigned a version in which the vet’s name was “Mark”, while the other half reviewed “Elizabeth”. The researchers also asked questions to explore their views on the veterinary profession, including questions about whether they believed discrimination remained a problem.

Differences in the treatment of the male and female evaluations were most evident and systematic among those who believed female vets no longer experience discrimination. Altogether, 44% of respondents held this belief, of whom 66% were male.

Those who held this belief offered “Mark” a significantly higher salary than “Elizabeth,” ranging from £1,100 to £3,300 more. The strongest pay disparity was among those who most strongly endorsed the belief but even those who were generally indifferent or uncertain about this issue systematically paid “Mark” more than “Elizabeth”.

Those who believe female vets no longer experience discrimination also perceived “Mark” as significantly more competent than “Elizabeth.” This was important as with greater levels of perceived competence employers and managers indicated they would: (a) be more likely to let this vet take on more managerial responsibilities, (b) more strongly encourage them to pursue promotions, and (c) be more likely to advise other vets to look to this vet as a valuable source of knowledge. By comparison, those who believed female vets still experience the negative impact of gender biases and discrimination (42%) showed little to no difference in how they perceived or treated “Mark” versus “Elizabeth”.

British Veterinary Association President Simon Doherty said:

“The results of this study are disappointing but possibly not surprising for many of us –  they clearly show that gender inequality and discrimination in the veterinary profession is still present, albeit sometimes subtle.

“We have been aware for some time that a stubborn pay gap exists between men and women in the profession but there has been a pervasive feeling that this will rectify itself as the large number of young female vets progress further in their careers. This report shows that this will not happen automatically. It is unacceptable that in 2018, when everything about two vets is equal, their gender can still have a significant impact on how they are perceived, treated, and paid.

“We will undertake further research with the University of Exeter into ways in which we can address these beliefs and tackle such subtle inequalities but in the meantime we all have a role to play in engaging with these discussions. We’ll be exploring these issues at BVA Congress today and I look forward to hearing from our members about their personal experiences and suggestions about what can be done. If we are to address motivation and retention issues and create a profession where everyone feels fairly rewarded and valued for their work, we must start by checking our own unconscious prejudices.”

The new study was the second piece of research on workforce issues conducted as part of the Vet Futures project to explore confidence, motivation levels and retention within the profession. The first study revealed that women in the profession were more likely than their male peers to struggle with the lack of role models and less likely to experience the feeling of ‘fitting in’ and of being valued and admired by peers. The follow-up study with employers was carried out in Spring 2018.

Dr Begeny and Professor Ryan’s session ‘A crisis of confidence? What’s happening to the veterinary workforce’ is open to all attendees and will take place in the BVA Congress Theatre at London’s ExCeL at 9.30-10.20am on Thursday 15 November. It will be followed by a panel discussion: ‘Creating a confident workforce’, where members can add their thoughts on how to address the issues highlighted by the research.

My Vet Future: New website offers a one-stop guide to veterinary careers

The British Veterinary Association and Vet Record are today (15 November) launching a new online careers hub which offers future and existing vets and vet nurses comprehensive content and resources to support and inspire them at every step of their careers. It is open access and free of charge, which means that it is available for everyone to use.

My Vet Future, which is launching today at the London Vet Show, provides valuable content for those interested in becoming a vet professional or developing their existing career. This new hub is linked to the existing Vet Record Careers job site where employers can advertise their vacancies and vet professionals can look for new career opportunities.

The new site offers targeted content structured around eight different ‘personas’, which include vets and vet nurses at various points in their careers. Individuals can access content relevant to their specialism and work sector, as well as advice on how to take their career in a new direction.

School students and undergraduates are also well catered for, with information on undertaking extramural studies as well as guidance for those looking to take the first steps towards embarking on a rewarding veterinary career.

My Vet Future features free editorial content and resources from a range of organisations including BVA, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) and the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS). Existing careers content from Vet Record will also be available.

The site has been developed as part of the Vet Futures project, the joint BVA/RCVS initiative, which set out a vision for the veterinary profession and recommended the creation of a one-stop-shop for careers advice and support to promote diverse career opportunities.

Commenting on the launch of My Vet Future, BVA President Simon Doherty said:

“This valuable resource is the result of superb collaboration, and it’s fantastic to see such an important initiative from the Vet Futures Action Plan coming to fruition. We hope it will support and inspire existing and future vets and vet nurses from school through to retirement. It will be a valuable tool for students, professionals and the wider public to give them a better sense of the variety of roles that veterinary professionals perform throughout society.
“My Vet Future is the only veterinary careers site in the UK that has a dedicated section for school students and, as a STEM ambassador, I think this is a vital tool to engage young people in a meaningful way with the value and reality of veterinary careers.”

Adele Waters, Editor of Vet Record, said:

“Today’s vets and vet nurses want more career options, the opportunity of working in a variety of different fields and in diverse ways. My Vet Future fills a much-needed gap – giving all veterinary professionals, whatever their experience or future aspirations, the opportunity to access the latest information about the range of career options available to them.”

President of the BVNA, Wendy Nevins, said:

“There are always opportunities out there for qualified nurses to develop themselves and broaden their experience. On top of that we are seeing real changes in employment patterns across the sector. This initiative with BVA is a timely response, connecting our members with up to date information and opportunities which can support them throughout their careers. We are pleased to be a part of it.”

David Charles, AVS President, said:

“My Vet Future is going to be a real asset to current and future veterinary students. Having so many resources in one place will allow students to benefit from their time at vet school through to university and beyond, being a resource equally beneficial to them when they qualify.
“I am glad that AVS have been able to provide some content for the student sections of the My Vet Future website to give support and information to current and future veterinary students, particularly around their extramural studies. I can also see how My Vet Future will help veterinary students nearing the end of their training, by allowing them to look ahead at the recently qualified sections and consider the many different routes they can take with their veterinary degree.”

Online career discussion platform wins ‘inspired by Vet Futures’ competition

An online discussion forum dedicated to sharing ideas, tips and anecdotes about how veterinary surgeons can further develop their careers has won a competition recognising outstanding projects inspired by Vet Futures.

The competition, which was launched in July 2018 marks the second anniversary of the Vet Futures Action Plan. In total 13 entries to the competition were received which, following a shortlisting process, were whittled down to reveal a winner – Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify (or V:SGD). Three entries – VetDB, the VDS Training’s Vet Leadership Programme and Virtual Vet Derms were highly commended by the judges.

V:SGD started as a closed Facebook group where, as the name suggests, vets could discuss how to best use their veterinary degree – whether that was staying in clinical practice, using their skillset in different fields or branching out into a diverse range of other areas. In April of this year, it held its first live event in London featuring a range of seminars, lectures and workshops on career development, mental health, job hunting tips and information about a variety of different career options including civil service, research, science communication and charities.

As the winner of the competition, Ebony Escalona, founder of V:SGD, will now be given a platform to showcase the idea during the BVA Congress stream of the London Vet Show on Thursday 15 November, as well as two tickets to London Vet Show (including accommodation and travel) and support from both BVA and RCVS to promote the project to the wider profession.

Commenting on her win Ebony said: “I am over the moon that V:SGD has been recognised by Vet Futures for its positive impact on the profession. It has gone from helping a few friends to providing a safe and supportive space for thousands of veterinary professionals. I have been astounded by the peer-to-peer career inspiration, helping us to explore our potential together! The beauty of it too is that it has helped so many other Vet Futures inspired initiatives and businesses such as WellVet, Simply Locums, Streetvet and VDS Training to name a few. This award is a HUGE thanks to all the community members who reach out to help our secret supports, share their career stories or just make us feel that we are never alone on this career journey. We are excited to build and create new initiatives and partnerships with V:SGD in the future too #VetPassport.”

All entries to the competition were judged against a set of criteria, including how far they advanced one or more of the six core Vet Futures ambitions, these are:

1. A leading force for animal health and welfare
2. Valued for wider roles in society
3. Confident, resilient, healthy and well-supported
4. A broad range of diverse and rewarding career paths
5. Thriving, innovative, user-focused businesses
6. Exceptional leadership

Simon Doherty, BVA President, said: “We had a very strong field of entrants doing everything from improving the technological tools available to the profession, to developing leadership skills and to helping to enhance the wellbeing of the profession.

“It was a very difficult decision to choose just one but Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify stood out for the impact it has had in opening up the discussion on career change and development within the profession, the major and very well-attended live event it held in April and the enthusiasm and drive of its members.”

Amanda Boag, RCVS President, added: “V:SGD touched on a variety of the Vet Futures project’s core aims, particularly developing a confident and well-supported profession and looking at a broad range of diverse and rewarding career paths.

“By allowing members of the profession to talk about their career dreams, hopes, aspirations and frustrations V:SGD is acting as an important resource to support the veterinary community in a digital age. It is a source of ideas and inspiration for vets seeking to do something a bit different or just seeking reassurance about their current career path.”

ViVet logo

Innovation project celebrates first anniversary

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ landmark innovation project ViVet is celebrating its first anniversary with the publication of a new regular feature highlighting innovators and influencers in the veterinary and animal health sector.

ViVet was launched at the Innovation Symposium at the Warwick Business School in The Shard in September 2017, featuring a wide range of speakers drawn from the world of technology and innovation in areas such as healthcare, scientific research, business and finance and, of course, veterinary science.

The ViVet programme itself grew out of the recommendations of the Vet Futures research project and is designed to ensure veterinary professionals are engaged with innovation and technological development in the animal health sector.

Since it launched last year, blogs and case studies have been published on the ViVet website and the RCVS team, led by RCVS Council member Chris Tufnell and Director of Leadership and Innovation Anthony Roberts, has been talking to audiences both within and without the veterinary professions about the project and veterinary innovation in general.

Events spoken at have included the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe Conference in Brussels and the Veterinary Public Health Association/ Association of Government Vets ‘Embracing Innovation’ Conference.

To celebrate the year since the project started, ViVet has now launched a brand new resource called ViVet Bites which are short interviews with innovators who are making waves in the profession through technological development, new business models and other inspiring ways of working.

The first person to be interviewed for ViVet Bites is Sam Joseph, co-founder of StreetVet, which has some 300 volunteer veterinary surgeons and nurses providing free veterinary care to animals owned by the homeless community in a number of cities across the UK.

In his interview Sam talks about how he and Jade Statt started StreetVet, his thoughts on the future of veterinary innovation and how vets can use their problem-solving skills to become innovators.

Dr Chris Tufnell, who is leading the ViVet project, said: “We are delighted that Sam has agreed to be our first ever ViVet Bites interviewee and his story demonstrates that innovation isn’t just about new pieces of equipment or software, but is about new ways of thinking about how veterinary services can be delivered – including to some of the most vulnerable in society.

“I am also very proud of the work that the ViVet project has been undertaking in the year since it has launched. Throughout the year, together with Anthony Roberts I have met many people working in the innovation and healthcare space, learning about current and future trends in innovation and providing regulatory advice and support.

“We have a very exciting year to look forward to with some upcoming events and competitions. Make sure to regularly check in on this website and to subscribe to the ViVet e-newsletter for news and events and to keep up-to-date with the latest blogs, case studies and ViVet Bites.”

A podcast and a webinar featuring Chris Tufnell and Anthony Roberts speaking about the ViVet project and what it means are also available to download from the resources section of the ViVet website.

Cover of Vet Futures Action Plan

Vet Futures competition: what’s inspired you?

To mark two years since the launch of the Vet Futures Action Plan, BVA and RCVS are launching a competition to find the best project or initiative that has been inspired by Vet Futures.

The prize for the best entry includes a platform to showcase the idea during BVA Congress at the London Vet Show (LVS) in November, as well as two tickets to LVS (including accommodation and travel) and support from BVA and RCVS to promote the project to the wider profession.

The Vet Futures Project Board wants to hear from individuals or organisations who are taking forward initiatives that will help to meet one or more of the six Vet Futures ambitions to enable the profession to take charge of its own future. They are:

  1. A leading force for animal health and welfare
  2. Valued for our wider roles in society
  3. Confident, resilient, healthy and well-supported
  4. A broad range of diverse and rewarding career paths
  5. Thriving, innovative, user-focused businesses
  6. Exceptional leadership

Entrants must set out their project in 500 words or fewer explaining which of the Vet Futures ambitions it aims to meet, how the idea will be or has been implemented, and how success is being, or has been, measured.

The Vet Futures Action Plan, launched at the Vet Futures Summit in July 2016, set out 24 specific actions to help meet the ambitions. The actions are being taken forward by RCVS and BVA, with Vet Schools Council and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), and great progress is being made, for example:

  • Publishing the Animal Welfare Strategy, which won a World Veterinary Association award in 2017
  • Setting up the Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition to communicate to the general public about the five welfare needs
  • Establishing up the UK One Health Coordination Group with medical and environmental professionals to share best practice
  • Launching RCVS Leadership and piloting the Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme for vets and VNs
  • Launching ViVet, the veterinary innovation hub, and hosting the first veterinary innovation symposium in September 2017
  • Engaging the profession globally with the Vet Futures Europe project and inspiring individual countries to run their own Vet Futures projects
  • Launching the VN Futures report and action plan

Commenting, BVA President John Fishwick said:

“A lot has already been achieved against the Vet Futures actions, with more in the pipeline, but we are keen to hear from others who have been inspired to set up their own projects, whether big or small.”

Stephen May, RCVS President, added:

“Vet Futures has reminded us that to fully serve Society the profession must be in control of its own future, and we are delighted that so many are already taking up that challenge. We want to celebrate their contributions and look forward to receiving the entries to our competition.”

The closing date for entries is midnight on Sunday 23 September 2018. Entries will be judged by members of the Vet Futures Project Board, which includes representatives from BVA, RCVS and Vet Schools Council. The winner will be announced ahead of the Vet Futures session at BVA Congress at the London Vet Show on Thursday 15 November.

For more information about the competition visit https://www.vetfutures.org.uk/competition

Female vet walking in cattle farm

Seven-year itch: vets who make the move to non-clinical work do so after seven years

With widespread concern about the recruitment and retention of vets, new figures from the British Veterinary Association reveal a mix of “push” and “pull” factors in vets’ decisions to leave clinical practice.

The vast majority of the vets polled who are now in non-clinical roles (92%) had worked in clinical practice in the past and, on average, these vets decided to make the move to non-clinical roles seven years after qualification.

Finding a new challenge was the most popular motivation for making the career change. The figures from the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which are being published ahead of this weekend’s veterinary careers event, Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify LIVE!, showed that 43% of vets who had moved were looking for a new challenge through a non-clinical role.

Where did they come from, where did they go?

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those vets who had moved from clinical to non-clinical work had worked in mixed practice at some point in the past. Nearly half (49%) had worked in companion animal practice and one in three had worked in production animal practice (33%). Around one in eight had worked in equine practice (12%) at some time during their clinical career.

The survey showed that nearly a third (32%) of working vets who are not in practice are in academia. Commerce and industry was also a popular non-clinical role with one in five (21%) of vets in non-clinical roles choosing to work in these fields.

Reasons for leaving

Vets most commonly gave positive reasons for making the move to a non-clinical role, with 43% citing that they were looking for a new challenge as one of the reasons and 33% saying they were looking for a different type of work.

Vets also based their decision on improving their work/life balance, with a quarter saying they wanted a role with no out of hours work, 14% saying they wanted more flexible working hours and one in ten reporting that clinical work was incompatible with family or outside commitments.

More than one in five (21%) cited difficulty in progressing with their clinical career as a reason whilst just under one in five (19%) were looking for less stress at work.

Gender differences

There were some differences between men and women in the timing of their career change and the reasons behind it. Women tended to leave clinical practice earlier in their career; an average of 6.5 years after they qualified compared to 8 years for men.

Reasons related to working hours and flexibility were more prominent motivations for women to move from clinical practice (54% of female vets compared to 31% of male vets). On the other hand, male vets were more likely than female vets to cite reasons related to a desire to do a different type of work (44% of male vets compared to 24% of female vets).

Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify LIVE!

This weekend (28-29 April), the event ‘Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify LIVE!’ will celebrate the range of roles that vets can take on throughout their careers, providing insight and advice on the different options out there and how to negotiate the move.

BVA Senior Vice President, Gudrun Ravetz, will be touching upon some of the gender issues at play in her talk on the current UK workforce crisis, whilst BVA Junior Vice President, Simon Doherty, will be contributing to the session about veterinary roles in charities. Both Simon and Gudrun will be taking part in a session about what BVA is doing for the profession.

BVA Senior Vice President, Gudrun Ravetz said:

“These figures show that there is a sizeable percentage of practising vets who are making the move into non-clinical roles and that there are a variety of reasons behind their decision. There is a huge diversity of career paths open to vets and it’s important both for those who are already in practice and for those considering a veterinary career to be aware of all the options available.

“I have had a portfolio career myself that involved clinical practice in all different business models including charity practice and industry and I know that the most important thing is for vets to feel fulfilled in their chosen roles and understand that there is a wide range of opportunity available to them.

“However, we also know that practices are seriously worried about being able to recruit and retain staff. Looking at the reasons for leaving – including a desire for more flexibility, a better work/life balance, and concerns about stress – this has to be a wake-up call to all employers to think about whether we can do things differently to support our colleagues.

“BVA has a role to play too and many of the Vet Futures actions are designed to address these issues, including the workforce study commissioned by BVA, the development of a careers hub, and our support for the Mind Matters Initiative led by the RCVS, amongst others. These are issues that the profession must tackle together.”

Vet with stethoscope

More than 500 people register an interest in leadership course

More than 500 people have pre-registered for an online leadership course pilot being run as part of the new RCVS Leadership Initiative.

Some 550 people veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, students and practice managers have registered an interest in joining the first cohort of the Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme, a massive open online course (or MOOC) being run through the FutureLearn digital education platform.

The individuals who have registered an interest will, in due course, be sent an email providing them with details on how they can formally sign-up to the pilot version of the course.

The MOOC was developed in conjunction with the NHS Leadership Academy and aims to emphasise the importance of leadership and deliver information on the art of good leadership and decision-making, build confidence, develop an inclusive leadership culture and encourage active reflection and application of leadership skills.

To do this the course includes a fictional audio drama featuring veterinary professionals living in the county of Glenvern, which provides a vehicle for reflection and learning about the diverse leadership challenges veterinary professionals face on a daily basis.

RCVS Vice-President Amanda Boag, who is heading up the Leadership Initiative, said: ‘It’s been wonderful to see such high levels of interest and high numbers of sign-ups for the MOOC, and we want to thank all those who have volunteered.

“We are particularly glad that the people who have registered are a diverse group with around a fifth of them being veterinary nurses and also including practice managers, students and non-clinical staff because the course aims to develop everyday leadership within the whole veterinary team, no matter what stage a person is at in their career.

“We very much look forward to receiving their feedback and making the necessary changes and improvements.”

The MOOC is a key part of the RCVS Leadership Initiative, launched on Thursday 5 April at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress in Birmingham, and inspired by the joint Vet Futures project with the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

The initiative is also part of the RCVS Strategic Plan 2017-2019 which had as one of its ambitions ‘to become a Royal College with leadership and innovation at its heart, and support this creatively and with determination.’ The College is running it in parallel with its innovation project, ViVet, which was launched in September 2017.

The initiative’s goals include integrating leadership into veterinary professionals’ continuing education, in part by creating the MOOC, leading by example in the College by developing Council and staff members’ leadership skills, and highlighting more diverse leadership opportunities.

To listen to the first two episodes of the audio drama and preview content, as well as watch a video with further information about the programme, please visit the RCVS website or contact Oliver Glackin, RCVS Leadership Initiatives Manager, for more information at o.glackin@rcvs.org.uk

Dog in waiting room

BVA welcomes first ever protocol for animals in health care

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued a warm welcome to the launch of the first ever nationwide protocol for animals in health care.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has launched the protocol, ‘Working with dogs in health care settings’, in a bid to encourage more hospitals to explore animal therapy.

A recent RCN survey found that nine out of ten (90%) nurses believe animals can improve the health of patients with depression and other mental health problems, and 60% said the presence of animals could speed patient recovery.

Simon Doherty, BVA Junior Vice President, said: “This new protocol highlights the importance of the bond between humans and animals. It also serves as a welcome reminder at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week of how caring for and interacting with ‘man’s best friend’ can help to relieve stress and enhance wellbeing and a sense of companionship.

“It’s positive that the working group consulted with a wide range of organisations on welfare and safety considerations in developing this protocol, as ensuring the wellbeing of both humans and animals in these settings is paramount. As a fellow member of the UK One Health Coordination Group, BVA is very pleased to see a joined-up and forward-thinking approach to this important area of work.”

The ‘UK One Health Coordination Group’ (UKOHCG) was established following the launch of the BVA/RCVS Vet Futures Action plan. The UKOHCG exists to improve liaison and collaboration between the UK veterinary, medical and environmental professions towards One Health aims in order to foster and facilitate the approach whereby professionals “think globally and act locally”. The founding members of the UKOHCG are: the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA), the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the National Health Service (NHS), the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the National Trust, and the Wildlife Trusts.

VSGD logo

RCVS supports new veterinary career diversity event

Representatives and staff from the RCVS attended the inaugural Vets: Stay, Go, Diversity (VSGD) Live! event in April to showcase its work on leadership, innovation and mental health.

The VSGD event – inspired by the Vet Futures project – took place on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April at CodeNode, a community events venue in the City of London, and with an estimated 250 delegates in attendance, as well as online delegates, to discuss veterinary career diversity.

Members of RCVS Council and the RCVS Officer Team took part in a number of talks and workshop/ panel discussions. On Saturday:

  • Niall ConnellRCVS Council member and Junior Vice-President elect Niall Connell (pictured right) gave a talk called ‘Discovering life after ill-health retirement’ about how he has continued to work in the veterinary sphere after his multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2010.
  • RCVS Senior Vice-President Chris Tufnell, who runs our ViVet innovation project, gave a presentation entitled ‘Playing our part in world progress through science, innovation and caring’.
    Rob Pettitt, Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Orthopaedics at the University of Liverpool, delivered a talk on behalf of our Mind Matters Initiative titled ‘Mind over surgical matter’ in which he spoke about his own experiences of mental ill-health.
  • Chris Tufnell joined RCVS Council member Danny Chambers and the BVA’s Simon Doherty and Gudrun Ravetz in a Q & A panel session titled ‘What have the RCVS and BVA ever done for us?’

On Sunday:

  • Professor Stuart Reid, Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative, joined RCVS Council member Jo Dyer in a workshop titled ‘We are all human: healthy minds for medics and vets’.
  • Chris Tufnell took part in a workshop called ‘Practice makes perfect: Starting a veterinary business’.
  • And finally, Chris and Danny held a panel discussion titled ‘Advocating for the profession in practice’.

Ian Holloway, RCVS Director of Communications, said: “We were delighted to be invited to attend this new event which has grown out of a very popular Facebook group in which vets of all stages of their careers gathered to share stories and ideas on how to make the best of their veterinary education and experience.

“As well as taking part in many of the talks and workshops the College we also had a stand at the event where we promoted our ViVet innovation programme which aims to ensure that the veterinary profession is at the forefront of technological and business innovation in the animal health space.

“Furthermore, we were very pleased to be promoting the new RCVS Leadership Initiative which aims to instil everyday leadership for veterinary professionals at all career stages through a massive open online course on leadership development inspired by the NHS Leadership Academy.”

For more information about the event, including recordings from the day, visit the VSGD LIVE website.