Tag: vet

Ireland: Vet Practice Survey Report

This makes for interesting reading and highlights the challenges facing the future of veterinary practice in Ireland.  Key areas noted to be a challenge by respondents included keeping accounts in order, succession planning, incorporation, compliance and maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Continue reading

Mentoring and Leadership

One aim of the Vet Futures initiative (pg38) is to create an intra-professional mentoring scheme.  A few schemes already exist, but provision is still lacking for the majority.  Several individuals and companies have taken up the mantle and are now providing expert, robust mentoring schemes.  These are largely aimed at new graduates.  However, there is an increasing need for mentoring of those progressing higher up the chain to provide effective, dynamic leadership.

Mentoring cannot be undertaken half-heartedly if it is to be truly effective.  As a starting point, take a look at this presentation written by coaching and business development experts, People and Performance, and the subsequent advice blogs for mentors and mentees.  If this is to be undertaken in house by practices, there needs to be a commitment and contracted agreement what to expect during the process.  Done properly, it will be time costly, and it may prove more effective and less costly overall to out-source to external expert providers – see below for details.

Mentoring presentation

Thinking about Mentoring

Skills of mentoring

How to be a great mentee

Vetpol also have some great blogs on mentoring, a webinar and links to external resources.

Mentoring/Leadership schemes:

Graduate mentoring

BSAVA are launching a pilot Mentoring Scheme Spring 2018, but HURRY you need to apply soon!

Dr. Dave Nichols, vet and veterinary business consultant has set up VetX; short for vet graduate accelerator programme designed specifically to help develop new graduates in their first year.

University College Dublin, have trialled a pilot scheme click here for info.

Leadership training

  • The RCVS is launching a pilot leadership initiative in Spring 2018.  It promises to be a fantastic resource for vets across the profession in a variety of roles to develop leaders of the present and future.  You have nothing to loose and everything to gain by learning how to bring out the best in yourself and your team. Read more here
  • Adrian Nelson-Pratt of Veterinary Business Consultancy has just launched Emerge which is dedicated to providing effective new ways to deal with the daily challenges faced by veterinary professionals.  He says:  “We exist to make a positive impact on the mental health, wellbeing and personal development of the veterinary community.  Using proven coaching techniques and by building veterinary networks and a wider community, EMERGE unleashes new growth and introduces balance in the lives and careers of its participants. Whether it’s a career change, or helping you to develop yourself, we will help you fulfill your potential.”
  • The Veterinary Defence Society have developed training, coaching and mentoring programmes working with a great team of people including Carolyne Crowe, Penny Barker, Catherine Oxtoby and Ebony Escalona.  They have also just launched The Veterinary Leadership Programme in response to the VetFutures need to drive positive culture and create the leaders of tomorrow.  It’s a fully immersive, comprehensive and supportive multi-modal programme over 5 months using evidence based tools and strategies that will make the difference to those working through the programme.

General mentoring

The Vets Christian Fellowship offer an informal mentoring scheme to provide support to members.

Informal mentoring is better than nothing! If you have connected well with a vet during EMS,  or a fellow student a year or two ahead of you, you could request they provide you with peer support when you graduate.

New Graduate Schemes:

  • Dr. Dave Nichols, vet and veterinary business consultant has set up VetX; vet graduate accelerator programme, online paid for course designed specifically to help develop new graduates in their first year.
  • Grads to Vets is a brand new graduate scheme due to launch August 2018 for new graduates going into small animal and mixed independent practices offering a mix of online and attendance CPD and support.
  • Several corporates run graduate schemes.  Some of these are relatively new, so it’s worth asking if you can speak in confidence with people who have experienced the scheme in practice.  Corporates with schemes at time of writing include CVS, IVC, MedivetPets at Home (includes Vets4Pets/Companion Care), Vet Partners, XL Vets


The house of Lords concluded i n a report published 25th July 2017 that “Veterinarians play a key role in ensuring and inspecting farm animal health and welfare in the UK from farm to abattoir… We note the overwhelming reliance on non-UK EU citizens to fill crucial official veterinary positions in the UK
Continue reading

The Good, the Bad and Ugly

Different career experiences, written by vets who have learnt along the way.  This page is a work in progress – email us with your story if you think it may be of help to colleagues.  Alternatively, the Veterinary: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook community has career profiles and comments from vets in diverse roles.

Working for a feed company

Mixed Practice


Working for a feed company; pros and cons

The following blog was originally posted on the Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook page and has been reproduced here with kind permission of the author.  It provides an insightful look at the pros and cons of work outside practice within a large company.

“Having been in my current role as Vet and Equine Nutritionist at a feed company for just coming up to a year I thought some feedback for others considering such a career move from practice or elsewhere might be useful.

For: Working for a big(ish) company has its advantages – training in everything from sales and negotiation to presenting and excel to vet and nutrition CPD. Plus any memberships, registrations, subscriptions or anything else I need are paid for without quibble. Reasonable pay (circa 40-45k) plus benefits and car. Good support, regular appraisals and an emphasis on development.

And the role itself: massively varied with control of your own diary- mix of yard meetings, office meetings, business-to-business collabs, research and advising, teaching, lecturing and organising internal and external CPD. You need to have a commercial interest because any role in the commercial sector has that focus, obviously, but this is a great opportunity to develop your skill set and enough practice to gain some confidence – in proposals, pitches, negotiating, managing and setting budgets and targets, working fast and efficiently (doesn’t come naturally to me!), customer interaction and support, and even marketing, promotion and PR; what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot do! And pretty much, if you have an idea or interest that you can pitch successfully internally (logistics, investment and returns etc) you have the opportunity to run with it and make it fly which is pretty cool (worry about pressure of making the predicted returns on it later…!). The prospect of working internationally – I currently advise where required from the UK because we have staff elsewhere but there’s definitely the option for more travel in this type of role.

Against: the hours (45+pw plus driving time, usually averages out at a 12 hour work day), driving (500-1000 pw though would depend on where you live and specific role of course), staying away (1-4 nights a week, every week, averages at about 2 pw, with the odd weekend night unavoidable). Sales chat! Quite a time waster. Some internal meetings inevitably end up with a lot of it however. The inefficiency of endless internal admin and reports which divert from doing the actual job – quite similar in other companies and similar roles probably but I have little to compare with in the commercial sector. It is certainly much more than in practice. The inefficiency of a larger company – gaining approval for plans or investments from multiple departments can take a very long time and if you don’t shout loud enough can miss the boat on whatever opportunity you were working on as a result which is frustrating. This is a very competitive sector, which is good sometimes and bad at others! Makes for quite a pressured work environment. There’s positives and negatives to working with big yards – they can be variable to work with, some great and others less so (as vets in practice will know about as well of course).

Overall, this is a great role to broaden and develop your skill set which is increasingly important in the inevitable changes in work force requirements in the future. Whether this role will even be relevant?! But it has been a step in the right direction to develop further after leaving practice. I was certainly not expecting to use my clinical knowledge and skills to the extent I have and having left practice rather demoralised it has reminded me why I wanted to be a vet in the first place, which is quite a relief! I won’t be staying in this role for much longer for the reasons stated above (the driving mostly) but it has provided a good focus for what to do next and, importantly, some great opportunities and contacts for future roles.”



Rumination is an entirely detrimental waste of time with no benefits for anybody.  Mistakes are inevitable, but if we learn from them and move forward better and stronger then everybody gains.  There are hidden dangers to ruminating; adverse effects on both physical and mental health.  Click here for more information

Thrive Global have a good blog on How to Fight Negativity and Kickstart Self-Worth

Psychology Today has a couple of great blogs on ruminating.  Here’s an excerpt from one:

“Replaying conversations in your head or imagining catastrophic outcomes over and over again isn’t helpful. But solving a problem is.

Ask yourself whether your thinking is productive. If you are actively solving a problem, such as trying to find ways to increase your chances of success, keep working on solutions.

If, however, you’re wasting your time ruminating, change the channel in your brain.  Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t helpful, and get up and go do something else for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive.”  Read the full article here for great information on how to stop yourself from worrying.


Have you found yourself on the receiving end of a complaint to your practice… or worse via the RCVS?  If not, do you live in fear of one??  Fear not!  Despite our increasingly demanding and litigious client base, the vast majority of complaints are not upheld, or are resolved in house.  However, the process can be incredibly stressful and time consuming, and often sleep depriving.  This can adversely affect both mental and physical health, so getting help and advice early on and getting things in perspective is vital to make the process as painless as possible.  Talk to friends, colleagues, or:

GET INSURED – professional indemnity insurance is vital.  A lot of practices will insure their assistants; double check this in your contract.  Veterinary Defence Society is run by vets and is a good place to start, though other providers are available.

Have you made an error?  Here are some of our tips:

  • You WILL make mistakes because you are human.  Some of these will regrettably adversely affect morbidity, even mortality in your patients.  Forgive yourself!  We’ve all done it, so don’t beat yourself up.  Dwelling on mistakes (ruminating) or feeling guilty is nothing but counterproductive emotion.  Learn from the experience (speak to a specialist/colleague to understand what went wrong and why), put measures in place to make it less likely to happen again (e.g. double check before giving a medicine; do some CPD in the relevant area…) and move on as a better, more experienced clinician.
  • Once you know you have made a mistake, own up to a senior colleague and/or your insurers before speaking to the client if possible – getting advice on how to handle the client is vitally important in the early stages and can reduce the likelihood of a resultant complaint
  • When the complaint comes BE HONEST.  If you’re in a fluster and your survival instinct kicks in you may find an overwhelming desire to shift the blame. STOP, take 5 minutes, have a cuppa, collect your thoughts and speak the truth.  Again, seek advice from your insurers and /or legal advisor.


If the complaint comes it is usually one of five ways:

1. Complaints to your Practice:

Most practices will have a system for dealing with the majority of complaints raised in house.  Your employers are likely to approach you to inform you a complaint has been received and ask for your response. (see above tips)


2. New: Vet Client Mediation Service

The Veterinary Client Mediation Service (VCMS) is a new service for veterinary clients and practices.  It is a voluntary, independent and free mediation service for clients whose animals have received veterinary care and for the veterinary professionals providing that care. Using the process of mediation, VCMS offer help and guidance to resolve complaints in a fair, cost efficient manner that is unbiased and non-judgemental. VCMS works with both parties to try and reach a solution that is acceptable to both the client and veterinary professional. The service is funded by the RCVS.

All veterinary practices will have their own complaints procedures to deal with concerns raised by clients. Where a complaint cannot be resolved within the practice, either party can refer the complaint to the VCMS. We will obtain all details of the concern and mediate with both parties to assist in finding a resolution.  The service is provided by Nockolds Solicitors. This means it is completely impartial and each complaint is considered in a fair, timely and efficient way so that the veterinary professional and client can move on.


3. RCVS complaints procedure

Stage 1: Assessment and investigation – a Case Examiner is assigned to gather information from you, and the complainant.  Copies of what you supply to the RCVS may be forwarded to the complainant to see if they agree with what you have said.  This may be done by telephone for speed, but you can request correspondence is done in writing if you want to collect your thoughts and/or gain advice from your professional indemnity insurer and/or legal advisor.  Additional information may be gathered e.g. from your colleagues in practice.  A group of 3 case examiners then review the case in private.  80% of cases are resolved at this point, either with no further action, or recommendations to the veterinary surgeon.  Within approx <3months

Stage 2: Preliminary Investigation Committee – the 20% of cases that make it to this point.  The information is reviewed, additional information may be gathered.  If there is a genuine concern the vet’s conduct could affect his/her fitness to practice the matter is referred to stage 3.  If not, the case is either closed, or held open for 2 years.  Within approx <9months

Stage 3: Disciplinary Committee – a small percentage of cases make it this far.  A public hearing (similar to a courtroom) takes place to decide if the vet is guilty of serious professional misconduct.  Witnesses may be called to give evidence.  If found guilty, the vet may be given a formal reprimand, suspended for up to two years, or struck off.  The case can be held open for up to 2 years.  Within approx <12months

You can see the results of the Disciplinary Committees findings for the last 3 years here

If you are having / have had experience of this procedure, we’d love to hear from you – please contact us if you would be willing to write an anonymous blog of your experiences to provide information to colleagues who may be at the start of the process and trembling in their boots!


4. Social media

This relatively new forum for complaining is impossible to regulate.  In our age of social media it is inevitable that there is a risk of being exposed by a disgruntled client.  When this is on a practice page it is possible to moderate the content.  When it is on a user’s private page it is more complicated; the issue of whether or not to respond, and how, is a complex one.  Contact Us if you have any experience of this, especially where you reached a successful conclusion.

This book ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed‘ by  Jon Ronson explores the origins and re-emergence of public shaming, especially on social media.  It may help you gain understanding and perspective if you’ve been on the receiving end


5. The Media

Certain papers or program makers are too quick to take a ‘shocking’ complaint from a member of the public as being the whole truth, and publish/film fantastical headline stories.  This type of complaint tends to involve large establishments/organisations, rarely an individual.  There is the capacity for response and in some cases, an apology is issued where a media source has published/aired prior to investigating the facts.  Regrettably, the apologies are less interesting than the shocking headlines, so tend to have less penetrance.