Professor Stephen May

Future-focus for the RCVS at BSAVA Congress

The RCVS hosted a suite of future-focused presentations at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress this year, building on some of the key recommendations of the Vet Futures project.

BSAVA Congress, took place from Thursday 4 through to Saturday 6 April 2019 at the Arena Birmingham, where the College gave presentations on its graduate outcomes project and RCVS Leadership programme, as well as the VN Futures project.

On the morning of the first day, there was a split-session presentation from Professor Stephen May, RCVS Senior Vice-President, and Amanda Boag, RCVS President.

Professor Stephen May presented a talk entitled ‘Graduate Outcomes review – looking to the future’, which covered the future of the veterinary education Graduate Outcomes consultation launched by the College last year. The consultation, which asked for the views of all members of the veterinary team on the future of veterinary education, grew out of the joint RCVS and British Veterinary Association (BVA) Vet Futures research project, which found that there is often a mismatch between the expectations of graduates and the reality of veterinary practice.

Amanda Boag then presented a talk entitled ‘Leadership for all with the Edward Jenner Leadership Programme’ in the second half of this split-session.

Also inspired by Vet Futures, and launched at last year’s BSAVA Congress, the RCVS Leadership Programme aims to support the College’s strategic ambition to become an organisation with leadership at its heart. On 13 November 2018, as part of this initiative, the RCVS launched the Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme, a free-to-access Massive Open Online Course for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

“The programme is designed for all veterinary professionals and addresses the importance of leadership in the veterinary setting. Over 3,000 veterinary professionals have already engaged with the course and feedback has been exceptional, with 100% of learners in the last run saying they “would recommend the course to a colleague” and 95% saying they “felt the programme had equipped them to be more effective leader”, says Amanda Boag.

The programme comprises two online courses with a final assessment and is supported by an innovative audio drama, ‘Glenvern’, which faithfully portrays the leadership challenges vets encounter in daily practice. All the learning materials are free to access, although there is a small charge for those wishing to undertake the final assessment.

The last stream of sessions for the day focused on VN Futures, a joint RCVS and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) initiative formed at the beginning of the 2016 in parallel with the Vet Futures project, to help the veterinary nursing profession prepare for its future.

Laura Black RVN, began these sessions with a talk entitled ‘A VN’s guide to wellbeing’. Black’s presentation focused on what veterinary nurses can do to improve not only their wellbeing, but also that of their colleagues.

Liz Cox, Senior Vice-Chair for Veterinary Nurses Council and RCVS Council Member, presented the second VN Futures talk, entitled ‘VN’s guide to Practice Standards Scheme’.

The Practice Standards Scheme, launched in 2005, is a voluntary initiative to accredit veterinary practices in the UK, aiming to promote and maintain the highest standards of veterinary care.

“More than half of veterinary practices in the UK are now accredited under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme, with numbers continually increasing”, says Liz.

“This presentation will explain the scheme and associated awards, look at commonly asked questions, and, most importantly, examine how the scheme supports practice and quality of care.”

The third VN Futures talk, entitled ‘A VN’s guide to Schedule 3 and Delegation’, was presented by Julie Dugmore, RCVS Director of Veterinary Nursing.

This session examined Schedule 3 and its role in the profession today, particularly given the 2015 granting of the RCVS Royal Charter in which veterinary nurses became recognised as professionals in their own right.

“During the evidence-gathering sessions for the VN Futures project there was found to be a great appetite to increase the number of tasks that VNs are allowed to undertake”, says Julie.

“One of the recommendations of the VN Futures Report was to ‘clarify and bolster the VN role via a reformed Schedule 3’ which has led to the RCVS undertaking a review of Schedule 3.”

Susan Howarth, Chair of the VN Education Committee and VN Council member, presented the final VN Futures talk, entitled ‘A VN’s guide to Advanced Practitioner Status’.

Susan focused on the development of our post-registration framework for RVNs, which has been devised to allow access to advanced veterinary nursing qualifications from all registerable veterinary nurse qualifications.

“It is the intention that Higher Education Institutions and Awarding Organisations will use this framework to develop qualifications that offer specialist areas of interest, alongside academic progression. These RCVS accredited qualifications will allow candidates to gain an RCVS Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing (RCVS Cert AVN) award”, says Susan.

Meanwhile, in Hall 7 on Friday, 5 April RCVS Director of Communications Ian Holloway joined a panel discussion entitled ‘Effective consultation: how to make clients your best marketing tool’ and, that afternoon, RCVS Chair of Standards Committee Kate Richards spoke in the Big Issues debate entitled ‘Telemedicine: patient care in the digital world’.

For the full agenda for BSAVA Congress 2019 visit