17 September 2016
BVA is extending its support for young vets
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is expanding its support and services to recent graduates to help in their professional development and personal wellbeing as findings from BVA's Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey show that 45% of vets under 35 had concerns about their mental health in the last year. While under 35s are among the most likely to seek support, it is still concerning that half of vets under 35 with concerns did not seek support and 45% of all vets reported that they weren't sure, or could not recognise, the signs of mental ill health in a colleague.
A Vet Futures survey found that recent graduates actively look for and want supportive working environments in the early stages of their careers, with two out of five students and young graduates rating a ‘supportive workplace' as a key factor in influencing career choice.
However, in BVA's Voice survey 70% of young vets said they did not feel supported in their professional development phase (PDP) during their first year of employment, indicating that more needs to be done across the veterinary profession as a whole to provide such supportive environments. The survey also revealed that 69% had no appraisal, 82% had no mentor and 77% had no time within standard hours of work to update their PDP record and case notes, with over half having none of these.
BVA is investing in the Young Vet Network (YVN) to support recent graduate groups and help individuals make connections with other young vets in their regions. BVA's support includes funding to set up regional groups and run meetings, and a dedicated team to act as a point of contact for YVN groups to help to establish and facilitate new groups throughout the UK, both via social media and through physical meetings, and to signpost resources that are available to vets to help them in their early careers, including with their mental health and wellbeing.
As a member of the RCVS-led Mind Matters Initiative, BVA is also calling on the profession as a whole to help support the next generation of veterinary surgeons and urging employers and managers to make use of a wide range of practical resources available to help with PDP and mentoring recent graduates. These include:
- Resources developed through the Mind Matters Initiative:
- BVA's own resources, which include PDP guidance, contracts of employment, personal development reviews and webinars aimed at recent graduates
- Vetlife, an independent charity, provides free and confidential support to the veterinary community through a helpline, a health support programme and a fund for financial support
BVA President Sean Wensley said:
“These statistics present a sobering challenge to the veterinary profession and it is essential that we all take steps to support our colleagues. We all have a role to play in making veterinary workplaces supportive and nurturing places for recent graduates. Through the Young Vet Network, BVA is taking a lead to help graduates fulfil their potential as veterinary surgeons, helping them cope with the pressures of the job in their early careers.
“We know we are not alone – there is some fantastic work going on, with some employers embracing PDP and practices making innovative and positive use of ideas such as reflective practice sessions. But clearly this isn't happening everywhere and we need to make sure good practice is widely disseminated and replicated so we urge everyone to make use of the resources and guides available.
“By investing in students and recent graduates we are investing in our future as a profession. We need to ensure that all vets who need support have access to it and know where to seek help if they need it. I would encourage any colleague with concerns about their mental wellbeing to use the Vetlife helpline and confidential email service.”
Anyone interested in setting up a YVN group, including funding support, should contact Tim Keen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7908 6343.
See the related blog post by Robin Hargreaves: Supporting recent graduates through the early years of veterinary practice