President's Blog - June - Vet Futures
VET FUTURES: it's our turn to speak up! I implore you ALL to fill in the survey. It's the one opportunity for students to have an input into the major research project 'vet futures' initiated by the BVA and RCVS, looking to shape the future of our profession. We're the young, idealistic, optimistic open minded ones here, and after all, we are the future. It is vitally important we have a say.
Having been consulted on some of the content of the survey, it definitely got me thinking… What would I like to see in the near future of our profession? I think there are challenges ahead, but a lot to be optimistic about! The following four points are my own personal wishes for the future of our profession - what do you think?
Education that welcomes diversity and breeds innovation
I think that veterinary education should be accessible, but also an attractive choice to high-flying candidates from all socio-economic, cultural and academic backgrounds as well as all genders. Students should be given the time and opportunity to be creative, develop new ideas and experiment in different disciplines in order to carve out their own individual career paths. I believe that a diverse student body is one of the best ways to promote exchange of ideas and experiences, that ultimately leads to progress and change.
A profession that is highly valued by society
By value I do mean economic value as well as public opinion value, and I guess the two go hand in hand. The last thing anyone wants to feel is undervalued in their job especially when, as vets, we are all highly qualified, skilled professionals. The response to the RCVS Dr title survey certainly displayed the desire to be regarded on the same level as other medical professionals. Vets need to recognise their own value and market their expertise accordingly. I also agree that the profession must speak up with one voice on matters of animal welfare, with opinions based solidly on the best scientific evidence available.
For One Health to be a reality
In my opinion the biggest challenges and opportunities for the vet profession relate to the global picture of animal and human health. This must be tackled in an interdisciplinary way and the notion of 'One Health' that we are all aware of fully accepts this. So with this in mind, why is more of the vet course not taught in an interdisciplinary way? Most scientific collaboration is built on friendships and mutual contacts, so I personally feel that new vet schools and new campuses isolated from main university 'hubs' of research are dangerous for the future of the profession. Isolation prevents the exchange of ideas and innovation, and may even contribute to some of the mental health issues seen within the profession.
A profession full of opportunity
No one's aspirations should ever be held back by lack of opportunity. The veterinary degree is already highly valued by employers in many different sectors. I believe that vets should be encouraged to work in whatever setting that makes them happy and fulfilled, whilst maintaining their sense of belonging to the close-knit community of the veterinary profession. There is huge potential for expansion in the veterinary research sector. I believe more vets in research (particularly interdisciplinary) would increase the perceived societal value of the profession, and this career path should be encouraged and celebrated equitably to others.
In conclusion, it's all very well talking about it and taking time to consider the future, but we are the vets of the future. It is us to us to make the changes and act on our ideals now. Please feel free to respond to this post in support of or disgust of any of my opinions. The most important outcome of this project is the discussion.