The Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) held the first training day for its new Vet Futures Student Ambassadors last Thursday.
A recurring theme throughout the Vet Futures project has been a need for a broader range of career options for veterinary surgeons, and research identified that dissatisfaction was already present among student veterinary surgeons and recent graduates.
Since the launch of the Vet Futures Action Plan in July 2016 the College and BVA have been engaging with the wider profession to take forward the 24 actions, and AVS developed the idea for the Vet Futures Student Ambassadors programme. Two students each from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham, Surrey, and Glasgow, along with University College Dublin and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) were selected to become Vet Futures Ambassadors who could champion Vet Futures within their schools and develop and deliver some student specific projects in line with the Vet Futures ambitions.
The training day included training on planning, communication, presentation and leadership, and discussion aimed at developing student-led projects, facilitated by College and BVA staff.
Themes chosen by the students as areas for focus included innovation, veterinary careers, communication with the public on animal welfare issues, mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals and One Health.
Rosanna Kirkwood, one of the ambassadors from Nottingham, talked about why she applied to be an ambassador: “I’ve already have lots of friends who have graduated, and one or two years out they don’t want to be vets anymore – why is that? Is that an admissions problem, is that a vet schools problem, is that a problem in the profession? I want to see how we can change that, and work with the veterinary schools and the profession to measure expectations and prepare students for the future.”
Seth Kennerd from the RVC added: “It’s important that we as a profession look to the future and not only embrace change, but become champions of it. We must work together to find, create and strengthen innovative technologies and ideas so that graduates know what they have at their disposal and are not afraid to use it.”
Eleanor Robertson, President of the AVS, said: “AVS has been excited about the Vet Futures project from day one and we want to play our part in making it a success. As students, our members are the future of this profession and they should therefore be active in shaping it. I was delighted at the level of interest from students from across all of the vet schools and very impressed by the ideas and novel thinking that came through during the training day.”