In 2030 vets should be a leading force for animal health and welfare and valued for their wider roles in society. They should be confident, resilient, healthy and well supported, and benefit from exceptional leadership. And there should be a broad range of diverse and rewarding veterinary careers, as well as thriving, innovative and user-focused businesses.
These are the ambitions set out in our new report, which is published today [20 November] by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), under the overarching ambition for 2030 of ‘a profession in charge of its future’.
The report, launched at BVA Congress at the London Vet Show, is the culmination of a year of engagement, consultation and research with the veterinary profession, veterinary nurses, members of the wider veterinary team, key stakeholders, animal owners, and the general public.
At every step of the journey we have reached out to the veterinary profession through news, guest blogs, polls, surveys and roadshow events to capture the issues of today and consider the issues for the future.
Our surveys, roadshow events and meetings engaged hundreds of vet students, and thousands of vets and members of the general public and gave us some very useful insights, which all fed into the Vet Futures project and the development of the six major themes. The resulting 64-page report sets out a clear vision and ambitions and makes 34 recommendations for change.
We engaged with the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council and British Veterinary Nursing Association, as well as individual veterinary nurses throughout the project and many of the ambitions should resonate with members of both professions. While the focus has been on veterinary surgeons, the report recommends that the veterinary nursing profession should build on our work to develop its own clear vision and ambitions.
With the launch of the Vet Futures report RCVS and BVA are calling on the whole profession, as well as others with an interest in its future, to help take forward the recommendations, which include:
- Explore and consult on a sustainable structure for the veterinary degree, including the viability of limited licensure, allowing veterinary students to focus their studies and specialise during the veterinary degree [rec 16];
- Review the regulatory framework for veterinary businesses to ensure a level playing field, enable a range of business models to coexist, ensure professionalism in commercial settings, and explore the implications for regulation of new technologies (eg telemedicine) [rec 23];
- Deliver a coordinated, well-funded and evidence-based approach to mental health and wellbeing for the veterinary team [rec 10];
- Undertake a veterinary workforce study to assess the rewards, recognition and working conditions of vets and veterinary nurses, and the drivers of low and unequal pay [rec 18];
- Develop a public-facing awareness campaign to raise the profile of wider veterinary roles (including public health, research, government, industry and academia) [rec 22];
- Strengthen leadership for the profession by exploring options for bringing greater coherence to the support and representation of the veterinary profession [rec 30] and exploring ways to develop the next generation of veterinary leaders including by identifying and nurturing talent, and providing them with the skills and opportunities to succeed [rec 31];
- Explore options to develop an online animal welfare hub to better disseminate animal welfare research, evidence and tools, including the critical appraisal of common practices in the light of emerging evidence [rec 3].
Other recommendations include developing an animal welfare strategy for the profession, increasing collaboration with medical professionals and environmental organisations, adopting a more strategic long-term outlook for research funding, and exploring how to encourage a more diverse profession.
Commenting, RCVS President Bradley Viner said:
“The Vet Futures report is the culmination of a year of research and engagement with thousands of members of the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions, which has given us a very firm foundation on which to build our ambitions and recommendations. We are extremely grateful to every individual who has contributed in some way to the project, and helped us to seize the initiative.
“Over the years the veterinary profession has proved itself to be adaptable and able to face challenges head on, and we have no doubt that by working together we will realise our joint vision of a profession in charge of its future. Ultimately, we all want a profession that is confident in itself and one in which members are proud to call themselves veterinary surgeons.”
Sean Wensley, BVA President, added:
“Vet Futures has proved to be an exciting, engaging and truly ambitious project for the veterinary profession and it has created a fantastic level of debate and engagement.
“The report we are launching today is not the end of the story; it is the beginning of the next chapter. It is crucial that we maintain the momentum of the project so we will be inviting members of the veterinary professions to step forward and join a new Vet Futures Action Group to help us turn the recommendations into actions and drive forward activity.”