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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.”

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

Fortune favours Lincolnshire vet as winner of ‘Headlines of tomorrow’ competition

A Lincolnshire veterinary surgeon has won the Vet Futures ‘Headlines of tomorrow’ competition for his suggestion that the veterinary and medical professions work together to tackle obesity in animals and humans.

The competition was held at BSAVA Congress in April where our Vet Futures-themed fortune cookies contained a message asking those attending ‘What future headline do you want to see?’ and providing a weblink to enter the competition.

The winner, as chosen by the Project Board which oversees Vet Futures, was David Bull with his headline of ‘Vets and medics collaborate to prevent human and animal obesity’.

David, a joint partner at Vets4Pets in Lincoln South and an Advanced Practitioner in General Small Animal Surgery, has now received a Kindle Fire for his efforts.

Speaking of the inspiration behind his entry he said: “The headline was inspired by topical issues, having ‘One Health’ in mind and the issue of obesity in our patients, as well as the general human population. I feel that these are some of the big issues of our time, especially that of obesity which has been linked to so many other diseases and is essentially a self-induced problem.

“We see so many overweight cats, dogs and rabbits on a daily basis. It seems to be becoming a more common problem, as well as seemingly more accepted in society. This is to the extent that we have some clients that come in worried because they have been told that their dog is too thin, when in actual fact they are in an ideal body condition and are being compared to overweight pets which have become perceived as normal.”

Some of the other topics raised in the competition include the veterinary profession taking the lead in tackling ‘superbugs’, veterinary surgeons topping job satisfaction and wellbeing polls and the profession taking a leading role in One Health and medical advancements.

Remember, you can also enter our essay-writing competition, in which you can pen an essay of no more than 1,000 words on an idea that will transform the profession by 2030. The deadline for submitting an entry is Monday 31 August and the winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the London Vet Show in November.

Can vets work better together by playing to our strengths? ask guest Vet Futures bloggers Erwin Hohn and Adi Nell

In this month’s blog, Erwin Hohn and Adi Nell, Senior Partners at Medivet, argue that the way forward for veterinary practices large and small is to work better together by following nineteenth-century economist Daniel Ricardo’s stricture – stick to what you do best.

In Medivet practices, say Erwin and Adi, “we play to our vets’ strengths by allowing each one to do what they do best. We’ll refer to each other internally or between branches in a group. That’s just what Ricardo suggested.”

The innovation suggested by Erwin and Adi is for individual vets to expand this principle out to work collaboratively with external parties – even “those we think of as competitors, both veterinary and non-veterinary. This would serve to advance the health and wellbeing of our patients, not just cure or prevent disease.”

Taking on board the Vet Futures ethos of the veterinary profession shaping its future for itself, Erwin and Adi argue for an extension of what, to a certain degree, happens already, such as the sharing of out-of-hours work or referrals to specialist centres. The pair argues:

“We can apply this more widely. Breeders could refer puppies to a small vaccination clinic. That branch does the vaccination, but sends the puppies to a larger practice for x-rays when they’re lame. In turn, the larger practice sends its inoculations to the vaccination clinic or small satellite, and they refer clients who want to buy puppies back to the breeder. I could, for example, support your investment in an MRI unit and you could support my laparoscopic surgery.

“This is how many human community health programmes work all round the world, right now.”

Refuting the claim that such working might be ‘pie in the sky’, Erwin and Adi make the case that such a collaborative approach deals with many of the challenges the profession  has identified, including reducing costs and enhancing financial viability as well as offering a way in which corporates can become part of the solution for smaller and independent practices. Erwin and Adi argue:

“It’s easier to develop business skills for a narrower range of services than a much broader one – and it’s easier to choose your own hours. That same focus makes regulators and legal compliance easier. Non-veterinary competitors become collaborators. Rising costs are controlled by the same narrower focus, and evidence-based medicine is enhanced by sharing outcomes.”

In relation to Erwin and Adi’s blog this month’s Vet Futures poll asks “To what extent would you be willing to work collaboratively with others if it would benefit you all: Not at all, To some degree, A lot or Completely?”

Last month’s poll focused on the balance between business skills and veterinary practice as a caring profession, asking “Can vet practice embrace the need for better business skills without damaging its reputation as a compassionate profession?” This was based on the blog written by John Sheridan, a management and business consultant to the veterinary profession and former BSAVA and VPMA President, who argued that veterinary businesses must be viable to continue to care and that “better business is essential for better medicine.” A significant majority of those who responded to the poll agreed that veterinary practice can embrace better business skills without damaging its reputation as a caring profession: 81% of respondents answered “Yes”, 14% said they were “Unsure” and only 5% answered “No.”

Could we work collaboratively with those we think of as competitors?

Erwin Hohn and Adi Nell are both Senior Partners at Medivet. Erwin has a postgraduate degree in sociology and an MBA. Adi has advanced clinical qualifications and has recently completed MBA studies.

What’s coming?
None of us knows what the future will bring. There’s been much written in the vet press and many meetings have been held to look at the challenges we face. Major issues included work-life balance and

Erwin Hohn

Erwin Hohn

financial viability, the rise of corporates and feminisation in the profession, as well as standards of care. There are others: business skills, student debt, lack of leadership, excessive regulation and legislation, lack of evidence-based veterinary medicine, competition from non-vets, online pharmacies, mobile veterinary clinics, the Internet and its legions of unqualified experts, the rapidly-rising cost of offering a comprehensive service, and rising client expectations, to name just some.

We propose a new model of working together that could change the face of veterinary care. This model offers new ways of working and solutions to many of these challenges.

In 1817, the renowned economist Daniel Ricardo came up with a novel idea: stick to what you do best. This has been proved successful over and over again – but, oddly, is often overlooked. If you do what you do best and I don’t compete with that, but offer another service that I can do really well, we’ll maximise our profits and can support each other rather than competing.

Can we apply this to our profession?

Theory into practice
In our practices, we play to our vets’ strengths by allowing each one to do what they do best. We’ll refer to each other internally or between branches in a group. That’s just what Ricardo suggested.

Adi Nell

Adi Nell

By expanding this principle, we could work collaboratively with those we think of as competitors, both veterinary and non-veterinary. This would serve to advance the health and wellbeing of our patients, not just cure or prevent disease.

We already do this to a degree: practices share out of hours work, for example, or refer to specialist centres. The problem with the referral example is it’s currently one way only – if a complex fracture repair turns into an amputation, could it not be referred back to you?

We can apply this more widely. Breeders could refer puppies to a small vaccination clinic. That branch does the vaccination, but sends the puppies to a larger practice for x-rays when they’re lame. In turn, the larger practice sends its inoculations to the vaccination clinic or small satellite, and they refer clients who want to buy puppies back to the breeder. I could, for example, support your investment in an MRI unit and you could support my laparoscopic surgery.

This is how many human community health programmes work all round the world, right now.

Pie in the sky?
This collaborative approach deals with many of the challenges the profession has identified. By specialising in what each party does best, costs are reduced and financial viability is enhanced. Those who do what they love doing have fewer problems with work-life balance. Corporates become part of the solution. And client expectations are much easier to meet if we play only to our strengths.

It’s easier to develop business skills for a narrower range of services than for a much broader one – and it’s easier to choose your own hours. That same focus makes regulators and legal compliance easier. Non-veterinary competitors become collaborators. Rising costs are controlled by the same narrower focus, and evidence-based medicine is enhanced by sharing outcomes.

This utopia may seem difficult to achieve. But there are simple, practical steps that we can take right now to make our lives more professionally fulfilling, less stressful and more financially rewarding.

Reference:
Hohn, Erwin W (Sep 2014) The Development of Veterinary Community Health. Proceedings of the 39th World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress, 249-252.


Read more about Erwin Hohn→
Read more about Adi Nell→

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of either the RCVS or the BVA.

Pen your vision for a chance to win London Vet Show trip

The Vet Futures team is offering the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the London Vet Show (Olympia, 19-20 November) to the lucky winner of its ‘Veterinary Vision’ essay competition.

London Vet Show logoThe winning entry will also be included in a time capsule, to be opened by the veterinary profession in 2030.

Entrants – who could be vets, VNs, practice managers, students, in fact anyone with a veterinary interest – are being asked to pen an essay in no more than 1,000 words which outlines ‘An idea that will transform the veterinary/veterinary nursing profession by 2030’.

The topic might look at a new business model, a new approach to education, a technological innovation or perhaps a way that the working lives of those in the practice team could be improved – the approach is totally up to the author.

The entries will be judged by the Vet Futures Project Board, which includes the Presidents and Chief Executives of both the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association.

Entries will be anonymised then scored on a range of criteria, including originality, potential impact for the future and realistic prospects of change.

The closing date for entries is midnight on Wednesday 30 September 2015, and the winner will be notified the week commencing Monday 5 October 2015.

The full rules and details of how entries can be submitted can be found on our competition page.

 

19.08.15 Note the deadline for competition entries has been extended from the original deadline of 31 August 2015.