Mixed Practice or Good Practice? I’d like to work in both.

By Eleanor Robertson, AVS President

Source: The Telegraph, 13th January 2017

Source: The Telegraph, 13th January 2017

“Young vets don't want to work in mixed practice anymore and prefer to treat pets, says TV vet” ran the headline of the Telegraph. In the article TV vet Julian Norton suggested that new vets are now unenthusiastic about practicing with all species in an often isolated environment- doing it “the James Herriot way”.  We are blessed in this country with so many  well-staffed, superbly organised, successful mixed practices equipped with all the new toys; and most importantly with vets confident to deal with a huge array of challenges that always seem keen to teach and inspire. But I believe we shouldn’t be condemning young vets as non committal if they choose to circumvent the ‘19 days without a day off and 11 nights on call’.

 There are a number of veterinary students that are interested in working in mixed practice prior to graduation, however, the desire to undergo speciality training and lead the profession in an area of interest should be encouraged, not diminished.  The often idealistically portrayed days of James Herriot with a dairy farm around every corner and a bucket of warm water with a mug of tea to solve every problem, are coming to a close. Patient welfare should remain a constant priority, and as the veterinary profession evolves to match demands with new technology and knowledge, vets should take the opportunity to advance the care they provide.  

 Furthermore, the support of new graduates is vital to create a generation of confident, resilient and proficient vets; seeking it cannot be dismissed as individuals being unwilling to challenge themselves, but rather a desire to succeed.  The challenge here, as recognised by BVA President, Gudrun Ravetz ‘is how to help…provide those that graduates rightly need’. Seeking flexible, dynamic employment is not cowardice, but essential to ones wellbeing.

 Finally, as globalisation accelerates, the role of the veterinary profession is continuing to expand far beyond that of traditional mixed practice. The creativity and drive to diversify and expand into various aspects of the profession should be applauded in our generation as the moral obligation to make a positive impact on planetary health becomes ever more vital.  We need to get rid of any idea that if you only treat cats and dogs, if you only do research work, or if you never touch an animal in your working day- you’re not a vet and ‘real’ vets must be willing to work 25 hours a day. Once you graduate, you’re always a vet (unless you get stuck off but let’s not mention that)

 As a current vet student, I believe we should be congratulating the expertise and encouraging the enthusiasm of young vets, not criticising them for being unwilling to surrender to an out-dated, ineffective norm.

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