RCVS Workforce Summit explored recruit and retention concerns.
Delegates from across the veterinary sector met in London this week to discuss potential solutions to some of the key workforce issues currently facing the professions.
Representatives of veterinary and veterinary nursing associations, employers, charities, government and educators were among those in attendance at the RCVS Workforce Summit, held at the organisation’s headquarters on Tuesday (30 November).
During the meeting, participants were invited to identify solutions on six topics highlighted as priorities by preliminary research conducted by the RCVS, including ‘readiness for work’, work-life balance', and ‘workplace culture’.
Delegates were then asked to condense their ideas into viable solutions that would have a positive impact on the professions and the public. A report of the day is expected to be published shortly, together with an action plan that will include a commitment from a range of stakeholders.
RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett said: “It’s clear that there are a number of workforce issues affecting the professions, such as high vacancy rates that employers are struggling to fill and a resultant increase in pressure on the professions in terms of caseload and hours worked, together with an increase in the number of people choosing to leave the professions.
“While many of these issues are long-standing, and due to complex and multifactorial reasons, the scale of the problem has been exacerbated by three things: the UK’s exit from the EU and the impact this has had on overseas registrants; the ongoing impact of the pandemic in areas such as staff absence and burnout; and an increase in demand for veterinary services.”
Concluding the meeting, RCVS President Kate Richards, said: “The connections that we have with each other as veterinary professionals – through our dedication to animal health and welfare, our vital role in public health and protection, the trust placed in us day-in, day-out by the public – those connections have sparkled through today’s discussions.
“We can’t change what brought us to this particular moment, but I now feel confident that we have the beginning of a roadmap to address and mitigate the issues currently facing the profession. It won’t be quick or easy, and there are many factors and circumstances that aren’t within our control, but thanks to you, we have a direction of travel and a sense of how to get there.”
Applications are now open for BSAVA PetSaver's new Research Fellowship, with a grant of up to £35,000 for two years' work in companion animal research.
Qualified veterinary professionals (vet surgeons and RVNs) are invited to apply for the Grant, which aims to support Early Careers Researchers immediately after gaining a postgraduate research qualification.
Applicants must have completed either a PhD or Masters and should be within their first four years of starting an academic post. Candidates must not have also received any more than £50,000 in funding in competitive external grants.
David Killick, chair of the BSAVA PetSavers Grants Awarding Committee, said: “BSAVA PetSavers is delighted to launch the PetSavers Research Fellowship. It is well recognised that the journey from completion of a PhD to becoming established as an independent researcher is one of the most challenging times of a researcher career.
“With this new grant, BSAVA PetSavers will support exceptional veterinary professionals in the Early Career Researcher phase develop their research ideas by providing £35,000 towards research costs over a two-year period.
He added: "Through this initiative, BSAVA PetSavers aims to help these researchers reach their potential and in so doing expand the capacity for companion animal research in the UK.”
Applications will remain open until 28 February 2022, with the decision reached by the end of May 2022. For more information and to apply, visit petsavers.org.uk
The course supports RCVS’ Practice Standard Scheme changes.
Clinical audits and the benefits they bring to teams, clients and animals are to be covered in the second series of RCVS Knowledge’s free educational course, ‘QI Boxset’.
The course, which launched on Tuesday (30 November), aims to help practitioners implement Quality Improvement (QI) in practice – a topic that will be most relevant to Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) accredited practices owing to a series of updates to the requirements announced earlier this year.
Open to the whole practice team, the topics covered in the series include starting out with audits and carrying out audits. There are also real-life examples of teams that have used audits, together with bite-sized content containing webinars, podcasts and reading resources.
Welcoming the series, David Ashcroft, lead PPS Assessor, said: “The latest update to the Practice Standards Scheme has reflected the value and importance of clinical audit by including it at General Practice level, so a lot more practices may wish to seek guidance. RCVS Knowledge remains the perfect place to start, and the Boxset is an extremely user-friendly resource.”
Pam Mosedale, QI clinical lead at RCVS Knowledge, added: “The RCVS Knowledge team have been working hard on producing these free resources to support veterinary teams, and I am delighted that the series is now available.
“The benefits that clinical audits bring to practice is massive, but we understand it may seem difficult to know where to start. This series features a huge number of resources from teams who have identified the benefits of clinical audit for themselves, and we hope they will be both useful and inspiring. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the contributors.”
To access the series, visit RCVS Knowledge's Learn Platform.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has shared that veterinary professionals globally rate their knowledge of oncology at five out of 10, from a recent survey held to ascertain global levels of knowledge of veterinary oncology.
Conducted by the WSAVA Oncology Working Group (WOW), the survey, completed in 10 different languages, found that veterinary professionals rated the importance of oncology cases for their practice at seven out of 10, with little variation between languages.
Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn, member of the WOW Group and former WSAVA president, said: “Cancer is increasingly common in companion animals, with almost 50 per cent of dogs over 10 years of age developing this devastating disease.
“To support WSAVA members effectively in treating oncology patients, we wanted to know where they needed help most urgently.”
The survey also found that the most common type of tumour found in practice was a mammary tumour (81 per cent). The second most common type of tumour encountered was a skin tumour (75 per cent), followed by abdominal tumour (40 per cent), malignant lymphoma (39 per cent) and other tumours (five per cent).
When asked about educational resources, and which topics would be most valuable, chemotherapy protocols was considered to be the most needed, requested by 82 per cent of respondents.
Dr Jolle Kirpensteijn added: “Our survey is the largest the WSAVA has ever conducted and shows the reach of this well-respected association, which works to share best practice in companion animal veterinary care around the world.
“It is salutary to see the huge demand for veterinary oncology education all over the world. We have much to do but are excited at the opportunity to support WSAVA members and to offer new hope to oncology patients and their owners globally.”
The BVA is inviting nominations from its members for the 2022/23 BVA junior vice president (JVP) role.
Representing the BVA and the wider veterinary profession, the JVP uses their expertise to provide political advice and works closely with the Association’s CEO and policy, media and membership teams.
As with other Officer positions, the term lasts for one year, beginning in September at BVA’s Annual General Meeting. The successful applicant would then become president in September 2023, with a total commitment of three years as BVA officer and a further three years serving on BVA Council.
BVA president Justine Shotton, who was elected BVA JVP in 2020/21, said: “I would encourage anyone with a passion for animal health, animal welfare, and our wonderful veterinary profession, to consider putting themselves forward to join our officer team. There’s no denying it’s hard work, but the rewards are enormous, and we’re expertly supported by an incredible team at BVA HQ.
“The team spirit is tangible, and the team brief us on key messages and ensure that everything runs smoothly, enabling us to represent the views of our members clearly and concisely, not only to policymakers and politicians but also both local and national media.
“If you think you have what it takes to represent the views and interests of BVA members and the wider UK veterinary profession to governments, politicians, and the media; forge and maintain excellent relationships with our stakeholders, and lead on a portfolio of priority issues, then why not put yourself forward?”
Nominations remain open until Monday, 17 January 2022, with BVA veterinary surgeon members invited to nominate themselves for the role. Further details, including a nomination form, are available on the BVA website.
Swissvet becomes group’s founding network of practices in the country.
VetPartners has announced its continued expansion into the European market with the acquisition of a group in Switzerland.
The Swissvet Group, which was founded five years ago, has become VetPartners’ founding network of practices in the country.
The group has 100 employees working across 12 practices in the French-speaking part of Western Switzerland. Group co-founder Florent Bourachot will continue as CEO to oversee the organisation’s further growth.
Mr Bourachot said: “VetPartners is the right fit for us because we share the same values and culture. It is a very caring group that looks after its people and supports teams while still allowing them the autonomy to make clinical decisions.
“The veterinary market is evolving in Switzerland and VetPartners will help us to pursue our strategy by being more competitive and to expand in this country. We already have interest from other practices and projects for new practices.
“Being part of a larger group means our employees will benefit from having access to knowledge and data throughout the VetPartners group, and there will be opportunity to benefit from CPD and training. It is also a group that looks after the wellbeing of employees, which is important in today’s challenging climate.”
UK-based VetPartners already has practices in France, Italy and Germany, and plans to further expand in Spain.
VetPartners CEO Jo Malone said: “As soon as I met Florent and Antoine, I knew that Swissvet Group would be a good fit for us. We are delighted that they are now working with us and we look forward to being part of the future growth in Switzerland.”
Image (C) VetPartners.
The candidate nomination period has now opened for election to RCVS and VN Councils for 2022, and will close on Monday 31 January at 5pm.
Both elections will be held entirely online, following the success of the previous year's online format, with both nominations and votes to be submitted electronically.
RCVS registrar and returning officer for the elections, Eleanor Ferguson, commented on the continuation of the online format: “Last year demonstrated that we are able to successfully hold our elections online, making the process more efficient and convenient for our members.
“Once again, for prospective RCVS and VN Councils election candidates, this will mean that, rather than having to send us hard copies of your nomination documents in the post, the forms can simply be emailed to the College along with the relevant digital photographs and electronic signatures.”
Full eligibility criteria for RCVS Council, alongside further information, guidance notes and frequently asked questions can be read here, and all equivalent similar details for VN Council can be read here.
Prospective RCVS and VN Council members can contact Dr Kate Richards on email@example.com for an informal discussion on what it means to be an RVCS Council member, or Matthew Rendle, VN Council chair, on firstname.lastname@example.org for a discussion on VN Council membership.
Kate said of the RCVS Council: “I’m on Council for my second term and can reassure any prospective candidates that it is a wonderful experience, both personally and professionally.
“You will learn new things not only about the College, but also the professions, policy and government; you will have fascinating discussions and debates with colleagues on issues of great importance and consequence.”
“I would be happy to talk to anyone who might be interested in joining VN Council about its role and how you could contribute both to it, and to the wider profession,” Matthew added.
“This 60th anniversary year for the veterinary nursing profession has been a time to take stock about how far the profession has come and where it is going.
“One thing I have appreciated is the important role both VN Council and its committees will continue to have in this development process, by making key decisions on areas such as student training and wellbeing, continuing professional development, post-registration qualifications and statuses, and registration of veterinary nurses.”
There will be one RCVS Council meeting prior to the nomination period deadline, on Thursday 20 January 2022, and any candidates interested in attending virtually as observers should contact Dawn Wiggins on email@example.com
Jessica Grant, a veterinary specialist from Northwest Veterinary Specialists in Cheshire, has run a half marathon to raise funds for veterinary charity Vetlife UK.
Vetlife, an independent charity, provides free-to-access and confidential support to veterinary professionals experiencing mental and physical health or financial problems.
A European and RCVS specialist in oncology, Jessica spoke about why she chose to support Vetlife: “I really wanted to support a charity which was related to veterinary mental health as it is a topic that is so relevant and close to my heart.
“Many of my past and present colleagues, and myself included, have suffered from mental ill heath in the past and so many people I know have used and needed Vetlife when times were tough.”
Running the Manchester Half Marathon, Jessica raised £1,100 for Vetlife UK, and made a time of under two hours.
She said: “The run went as well as I could have hoped. I had been really ill in the two weeks leading up to the run so I had made the decision just to finish the run, rather than to try to get a good time.
“I think this actually made the run more enjoyable. The atmosphere at the start was electric – the camaraderie of my fellow athletes was brilliant – and the weather was perfect.
“I also received an incredible amount of support, both in donations as well as good luck messages, and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such a brilliant team.”
Latest figures from the RCVS have shown that in 2020, 92 per cent of veterinary nurses who had their records audited had completed their required hours of CPD over the year.
This is an exceptionally high level of CPD compliance across the profession, as Jenny Soreskog-Turp, RCVS lead for postgraduate education, commented: “This is an incredibly impressive CPD compliance figure, especially considering all the challenges that vet nurses faced throughout 2020.
“I want to thank everyone that took part in our audit as this is a really important data source which helps us understand what the profession needs from us to help them complete their CPD.”
Jenny also noted that often, veterinary nurses complete their CPD quota for the year without realising it: “I know that sometimes vet nurses are unsure as to what counts towards their CPD target and often they discover that they’ve completed their CPD quota for the year without realising it.
"Things that take place within practice, like formal case discussions, clinical audits and in-house training, all count towards someone’s CPD target.
“If anyone is unsure as to what counts as CPD, I would encourage them to get in touch with the RCVS Education team and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.”
Information of what counts towards VN CPD can be found here.
HRH The Princess Royal was in attendance as the charity's patron.
HRH The Princess Royal attended a celebratory event held by The Moredun Foundation on Wednesday 24 November, to mark its 100 year anniversary.
Held at The Moredun Foundation's premises in Pentland's Science Park, the event celebrated the foundation's work as one of the largest livestock charities in the UK.
Patron of The Moredun Foundation for over 30 years, HRH The Princess Royal congratulated Moredun on its achievements over the years in preventing and controlling infectious diseases of livestock. She also highlighted the importance of effective communication of new science and technology, in order to share it with as many people as possible.
Mr Gareth Baird, chairman of The Moredun Foundation, commented: “We are delighted and honoured to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to this special event to celebrate the contribution Moredun has made to the livestock industry over one hundred years and to look to some of the exciting new developments going forward.
“Science and research is needed now more than ever to help combat disease and improve the health of animals, people and our environment and I am confident that Moredun will continue to deliver practical science solutions to make a significant impact not only in UK but across the world.”
The event also featured many other speakers, including Mr Mungo Guthrie, who discussed Moredun's unique relationship between farmers and scientists, and Dr Francesca Chianini, who spoke about the power of pathology in understanding the causes of diseases, among several other speakers.
As part of the centenary celebrations, The Princess Royal opened the new Moredun Mobile Laboratory and Education bus, designed as a nod to Moredun's past, as the first mobile laboratory was commissioned in 1926 to conduct epidemiology work on Scotland's farms.
Image (C) The Moredun Foundation
Representatives from across the veterinary profession gathered in Central London on Monday (22 November) to discuss the future of Extra-Mural Studies (EMS).
Veterinary educators, employers, veterinary students and new graduate representatives were among those in attendance at the RCVS EMS Stakeholder Meeting, which considered the current challenges of EMS and the impacts they could have on students’ studies and early work experiences.
Amongst the challenges discussed included the annual increase in vet student numbers, meaning a higher demand for EMS placements and problems in some students accessing specific placements. The group also spoke about the financial impacts of undertaking 38 weeks of unpaid EMS placements.
Several students and newly-qualified vets shared their positive experiences of EMS and how their placements had enabled them to work in an array of different environments.
RCVS President Dr Kate Richards and RCVS education committee chair Dr Sue Paterson spoke about how EMS helps to improve the confidence of veterinary students and prepares them for their first role as a vet.
The benefits to veterinary practices were also discussed, with many practices outlining how they have used EMS placements to recruit new team members. However, some speakers said that delivering EMS placements in-person is becoming increasingly challenging in light of the impact of the pandemic and staff shortages.
The day culminated with a workshop in which attendees were split into groups to discuss several proposed future models for EMS, including:
- An enhanced, outcomes-based quality assured EMS experience, with the potential to reduce the number of weeks of EMS required to help meet the demand for places.
- A model where formal and structured EMS placement plans are provided for all students to access at different times in the programme, which gives students the chance to practise their skills and consolidate their learning.
- Create more initiatives that increase the availability of EMS placements and the number of workplaces offering EMS by encouraging and providing incentives for workplaces to offer placements for students.
- Brand new ideas for an approach to EMS, or something in its place. During this session, delegates were encouraged to put forward their own ideas for what the future of EMS could look like.
“I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories of positive EMS experiences, as well as the challenges encountered. Our task ahead will be to develop a future model for EMS that addresses the obstacles that many students face when completing their placements, whilst also preserving the positive aspects of EMS that many students and practices alike have benefited from.”
BSAVA PetSavers is seeking veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and veterinary physiotherapists for a survey on senior dog preventative healthcare treatment.
The survey is part of BSAVA PetSaver's Old Age Pets project, and requires responses from veterinary professionals who currently conduct, or have recently conducted, consultations on senior dog preventative healthcare treatment in order to assist in the development of a guidance tool.
Taking around 20 to 25 minutes to complete, the survey provides veterinary professionals the opportunity to contribute to the development of the guidance tool, and to help guide discussions with owners on senior dog care in practice.
Funded by BSAVA PetSavers, the research project at the University of Liverpool aims to help veterinary professionals and owners provide the best cate for senior dogs. In the initial stage of the study, veterinary professionals were interviewed about current services provided for senior dogs, and owners were asked about their experiences living with their senior dogs.
Lisa Wallis, postdoctoral researcher on the project, said: “The interviews obtained rich qualitative data that captured the thoughts and feelings of the owners living with and caring for a senior dog.
“Their depth and detail encouraged people to expand on their individual experiences and open up new topic areas that we might not have initially considered.”
Commenting on the new veterinary survey, Dr Carri Westgarth said: “The veterinary survey focuses on the perceived barriers to care for senior dogs, end-of-life care including quality-of-life, and the potential design of the BSAVA PetSavers guidance tool.
“We would be grateful if any veterinary professional could take a few minutes from their day to help us with this project.”
Any participants are given the opportunity to win an Amazon voucher, and the survey can be accessed here.
The lectures will reflect on the tole of evidence-based veterinary medicine.
The University of Nottingham's Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine (CEVM) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a series of online lectures.
Focusing on the role of evidence-based veterinary medicine in both research and clinical practice, the lectures will take place online on Monday 13 December and Thursday 16 December at 7.30pm, and will be held by Dr Marnie Brennan from the CEVM, alongside Dr Rachel Dean and the team from VetPartners.
Dr Marnie Brennan, current director of the CEVM, commented: “The 10-year anniversary of the CEVM is a great time to reflect generally on where we are with evidence-based veterinary medicine within the veterinary profession.
“There have been some significant achievements by individuals and groups globally in harnessing this approach, not only within clinical settings but also within veterinary research.
“With the publication of the Evidence Manifesto in the Vet Record last year, it feels like the right time to be reflecting on the journey the profession has taken to date and how this could shape the future. I’m delighted that Rachel Dean and her team from VetPartners are joining us for this event.”
Co-founder of the CEVM, Dr Rachel Dean, added: “We are partnering in the Evidence Sessions as it is critical that we bridge the gap between academic research and veterinary practice to make sure the evidence generated is useful to decision makers and can really impact care.
“It is important both groups work together to enable evidence-based practice to be a reality so we can progress care and improve outcomes for ourselves, our clients and the animals we treat.”
Anyone interested can sign up for the events here.
The Courses will balance scientific research with real-world practice.
Hartpury University in Gloucester has announced two new postgraduate animal science degrees for 2022 to equip students with the skills required for management and research roles.
The MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare has been designed to meet emerging animal welfare challenges and their connection to behaviour.
Focusing on the scientific understanding of behaviour and welfare issues, the programme will also explore how this can be applied to real-life situations.
The MRes Animal Science degree aims to equip graduates with advanced research expertise, enabling them to advance future scientific research and real-world practice. Students will be encouraged to attend industry conferences and engage with academics to gain opportunities to present and publish research.
Dr Wanda McCormick, head of animal and agriculture at Hartpury University, said: “We’re thrilled to announce the addition of two exciting and important postgraduate degrees for 2022.
“As graduates progress into management positions, they’re likely to be making decisions that actively impact the lives of animals. Having a comprehensive understanding of behaviour will enable them to act in the best interests of the animal while balancing practical real-world challenges. Graduates will perhaps most importantly have the knowledge and skills to influence and educate others around them, further improving the lives of animals.
"I’m particularly looking forward to the difference students enrolled on our new MRes Animal Science degree will make, given the far-reaching impact Hartpury research has previously had in the sector.”
The College has voted to leave under the terms of the existing lease.
The RCVS has announced that it will be formally leaving its central London headquarters by the end of March 2022.
Belgravia House, based in Westminster, was sold to a private investor in March 2021 in a deal worth £14 million. The sale included an option to lease back the building for up to two years to give Council members time to consider the future building requirements of the organisation and how these may have changed following the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the easing of coronavirus restrictions, RCVS Council and team members have returned to the building for occasional meetings and everyday work. However, the building occupancy is still not back up to its pre-pandemic levels.
Taking this into consideration at its recent meeting (11 November) - together with the time it would take to move any new permanent headquarters - RCVS Council members agreed there was a clear financial benefit to vacating the premises at the first opportunity under the terms of the existing lease.
The decision will see both the organisation and its charity partner, RCVS Knowledge, depart Belgravia House by 31 March 2022.
Commenting on the decision, RCVS chief executive Lizzie Lockett said: “As we all gradually emerge from the restrictions of the past 18 months, one of the things we, as an organisation, have learned from the pandemic is that we can cope well with remote and hybrid working, whilst continuing to provide a high level of service to the professions and the animal-owning public.
“Retaining the use of our current offices over the last few months has certainly helped us to do this, but our Estates Strategy Group recommended to Council that there was now little to be gained and much to lose financially if we continued to lease Belgravia House for another year.”
Ms Lockett added that the College will be outlining plans in the coming weeks for the safe removal and storage of its library, historical collection and archives.
She continued: “To support the team until we can move into a permanent building, we will hire serviced office space and meeting rooms around London and elsewhere in the UK as and when we need them. We also plan to take Council meetings ‘on the road’ over the next 12 months to enable Council members to engage with more veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses around the country.
“Meanwhile, we remain fully committed to the purchase of a new permanent London home for the RCVS and are seeking a building that not only meets the needs of the professions both now and well into the future but also aims to be a sound financial investment for the College in the years ahead.”
Image (C) RCVS.
The RCVS is encouraging veterinary students and those who have recently joined the RCVS Register of Veterinary Surgeons to attend a free webinar on how to handle difficult situations in practice.
Taking place on Tuesday 7 December from 7.15pm onwards, the hour-long interactive webinar will show veterinary surgeons who have recently joined the Register discussing the challenging situations they have encountered in practice, and how they dealt with it.
Topics covered will include the provision of pragmatic care, having difficult conversations with clients, and handling client confidentiality. These situations will be shared by Izzy Hocking, Hannah Prestwood and Bolu Eso, who graduated in 2018, 2018, and 2019 respectively.
Head of legal sevices (Standards) at the RCVS, Gemma Kingswell, commented on the webinar: “We recognise that starting in your first job as a veterinary surgeon is very exciting, but that the first few months in practice can be daunting too as you encounter challenging situations for the first time.
“This webinar aims not only to provide some practical guidance on how to deal with difficult situations in a pragmatic way should they arise, but also provide some reassurance that you are not alone in facing them.
“The webinar will also explore how the speakers have reflected on the difficult circumstances they have encountered in order to build up the knowledge, confidence and resilience to deal with similar situations in the future.”
After Izzy, Hannah and Bolu have shared their experiences, Gemma will go through each scenario with reference to the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons and discuss how best to handle those challenging situations.
Those interested can sign up for the webinar here, and a recording of the webinar will be made available shortly afterwards on the RCVS website for those unable to attend.