Zoe Skinner, is a Vet Futures Student Ambassador from Nottingham University and has an interest in farm animal medicine, One Health and how new developments will shape the future of the veterinary profession. She describes the VF Student Ambassadors’ Innovation Team’s new initiative, designed to give more vet students the opportunity to get involved with veterinary innovation.
As a Vet Futures student ambassador, I was fortunate to attend the first RCVS innovation symposium with other student ambassadors from across the country. The day was incredibly interesting and opened my eyes to innovations such as new business models, artificial intelligence and big data as well as how these developments will affect the veterinary profession. I also learned the importance of embracing innovation to ensure the role of a veterinary surgeon remains relevant and the need for veterinary professionals to be at the forefront of new developments to ensure there is a focus on improving the health and welfare of animals.
I must admit, before attending the symposium, I had never considered the extent to which innovation and new technology will reform my future career. This is something I am sure I am not alone in, as I believe it is easy for veterinary students to focus solely on the approaches currently taught in our curriculum without considering how these might change in the future. The day inspired me to encourage other students to become involved in innovation so I was keen to join the innovation project group when the opportunity arose at the Vet Futures training day.
After lots of brainstorming, the innovation project team have come up with a plan to introduce a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style competition to UK and Ireland veterinary universities in order to help realise the potential in the next generation of innovators. Student teams will be challenged with identifying an issue facing our industry and designing a new solution; then pitching their idea to a board of industry professionals. We plan to launch the competition in September 2018 with prize giving taking place at the RCVS innovation symposium in 2019. Teams will be encouraged to diversify their skill set and include students from outside the veterinary sphere with plans in place to reach out to business and technology schools at corresponding universities to determine if they would like to be involved.
We hope the competition will fuel an interest amongst our fellow students to embrace innovation and new technology and encourage them to learn about the changes it will bring to our profession. After all, using new technology in our daily lives has become second nature to our generation, so why can’t we embrace this in our chosen profession? I believe encouraging students to grasp the potential that innovation holds from the beginning of their veterinary education will produce graduates who are confident to be at the forefront of creating and embracing innovation, ensuring it is used in a way that that focuses on improving veterinary care.