First of all I would like to congratulate the UK Vet Futures team on the great work they are doing. I really appreciate the work of the UK project. As a guest of the summit on the 4th July 2016 in London I brought this idea back to Switzerland and immediately started a similar project for my own country. After having discussed the project with the board of the Swiss Veterinary Association (GST) we organized a workshop in October 2016 with all the important stakeholders of veterinary medicine in Switzerland: the Vetsuisse Faculty, the Central Veterinary Office (CVO), the state veterinarians and the GST. We could achieve a commitment to work together on this issue – the lead stays with the GST. This is a major milestone in the history of Swiss veterinary medicine.
In a working group, we defined our six ambitions for the veterinary profession in the future:
- A leading driving force for the promotion of animal health
- Perception by society
- Exuding self-confidence
- Diversity of career paths
- Future-oriented, innovative and productive businesses
- Competent and well-organised
Back on the board of the GST we took these ambitions as a template for the five-year plan for our association. At the general assembly in June 2017 our delegates approved our VETFUTURE project and our five-year plan. We continued our work with the definition of the recommendations. We established a total of 21 recommendations. All of them can be attributed to our ambitions.
Now we are going from theory into practice. For the VETFUTURE project, we have put together a diverse action plan and I am going to describe some of the actions in more detail below:
– We have created forums to be able to cultivate an intensive exchange within our profession, like the podium at our annual congress in Switzerland or institutionalized talks at the “Castle of Habsburg”, where we invite important people to contribute to a discussion about a current topic of interest.
– Together with the Vetsuisse Faculty, we are creating a new system to enter the profession after studying with so-called teaching practices. Together with a university of applied sciences, we have developed a course for future teaching practices with the aim of improving the career advancement for the graduate students. A first course called “Fit for Entrepreneurship” has already taken place.
– The GST office has been professionalised. We have recruited experts in the fields of animal health, education and communication. This helps us to develop well-supported positions in the fields of animal health and animal welfare. With such positions our influence in politics is much bigger and at the same time we receive much more media requests.
– We are trying to develop a new line with a marketing concept in order to continue to be attractive for younger veterinarians.
– We have carried out a career study. We wanted to know from Swiss veterinarians in which veterinary fields they had worked at the age of 25, 30, 35 …. up to 65 years and, if they had changed the direction of their career, why they have changed (eg family, income, emergency service etc.) The final report is going to be published this autumn.
– We intensified our cross-border cooperation, especially with our neighbours in Germany and Austria. With France, first contacts have been made and, of course, we are strongly involved in the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE).
– Our veterinary journal “Schweizer Archiv für Tierheilkunde” (SAT), by the way, the world`s oldest still existing veterinary journal, is being developed further and further, with new open access so we can reach a broader readership around the world.
– We have improved the cooperation between official and practical veterinarians with regular meetings of both groups.
For me the most important goal remains that we talk with one voice within the veterinarian business, so that we can improve our public profile and are able to increase our influence in politics.
With great passion for our profession,
Christoph Kiefer, President GST