22 October 2020
BVNA Incoming President Acceptance Speech by Jo Oakden
This is the acceptance speech by Jo Oakden, given at this year’s AGM.
BVNA members can find a video recording of the AGM in the members portal AGM thread.
“We look to the next 12 months knowing that they will be riddled with uncertainty. But alongside that, we’ve the confidence to know that there will come inevitable opportunities too. I know how tough the last year has been for everybody involved in our profession.
Like many of you, I’ve been in practice, working throughout – having to adapt to every new development and completing so many new risk assessments I’m practically repeating them in my sleep! As a Practice Manager I have seen it all through the eyes of the team I work with – my amazing Students, vets and client care team. I know the challenges our whole profession has had to endure, but especially our nurses. It’s been intense and exhausting.
Though, through all of these challenges, we have seen remarkable professionalism and heart-warming stories from colleagues around the country through our BVNA Awards.
My theme for the upcoming year is sustainability and it couldn’t be more pertinent after the year we’ve had. We faced acute shortages within our profession and in our personal lives. Confronted almost overnight by a community stripped of basic resources, unable to socialise, see family and friends and in too many cases isolated away from our loved ones when they were ill, 2020 is the year we have been forced to focus on our own mortality and on just how precious the world around us is. It is very easy to focus entirely on the negative impact of COVID – it has been all consuming. But sometimes we need to step back and find the light in between the shadows.
We have come to appreciate how every contribution we make, no matter how small, makes a difference and we’re far more appreciative of the contribution made by others.
In many cases we have been forced to step back away from the fast paced, on demand, materialistic world we had become accustomed to and focus instead on a quality of life that has a greater appreciation of our impact in the world. We’ve learnt that we can manage with reduced resources, and we can adapt to cope with what is around us, we are aware of alternatives. Shortages encouraged us to engage with more sustainable resources rather than disposable ones. We have learnt to value the life we have away from work, even though that life is now framed by a very different world.
These things are all key facets of sustainability and as we carry that mentality into the future, I know our profession can lead the way.
Like you, the BVNA has had to adapt over the last year, part of which has involved us conducting all of our meetings online. Our physical congress was replaced by one which was held entirely online and I am so proud of the entire team of staff, Council Members, volunteers and external contributors that made it such a success. As a result of our adaptions this year, we have looked at how we hold our events going forwards and we are committed now to offering that online option, which in itself will have a positive sustainable impact.
We also had an amazing keynote speaker – Jane Goodall at our Awards Ceremony – who would’ve amused, educated and inspired everybody who was privileged enough to hear her speak. With that, I am delighted to announce that our charity for the upcoming year will be Janes charity ‘Roots and Shoots’. The charity’s network branches out across the globe, connecting young people in almost 100 countries who share a desire to lead positive change for communities, animals and the environment. Education is key to drive change and this charity has education and support at its core.
As Dr Goodall herself has said….
‘ You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.’
This fits in perfectly as we focus on the positive change we can be committed to making together. Alongside Roots and Shoots, we will of course be supporting our own charity, the Daphne Shipman Benevolent fund – created to help veterinary nurses in times of need.
As a representative of the BVNA I now have a seat on the Greener Veterinary Practice working group, headed by Vet Sustain (If you are not aware of their work, I would recommend giving them a google!). As the BVNA, we plan to remain involved, and to expand on our participation as the group develops. Nurses are ideally placed to be able to drive the change for a Greener Veterinary Practice, and we aim to give you the support, tools and confidence you need to make that happen.
Looking forward, I am going to be involved in the BVA consultation on the RCVS Legislation working party report on VN Enhancement. This group has BVNA representatives as well as more nurses from the profession. BVNA have been a member of the RCVS legislation working party from its inception and now we really have a chance to be heard. Please, please engage with surveys, questions, debates, feedback. We as a profession cannot complain about nothing changing, and not being heard if we are not engaged ourselves.
If you are not engaged because you think nothing ever changes, all you need to do is look back over the last ten years and see how far we have come in such a short space of time.
Our potential is huge. We just need to take the opportunities that are presented to us.
This also ties in nicely with the close of the first 5 years of VNFutures – well done to everybody who has been involved with the project over the years – this joint project between the BVNA and the RCVS has achieved what it initially set out to do and now opens up to the start of the next chapter. I will be chairing the VNFutures Board this year, as we explore what the next 5 years of our profession and beyond will look like. Thank you to everyone who engaged with the VNFutures discussions at our This is Us event, the feedback gained was invaluable.
Another key focus for us is One Health, which continues to be important, but is even more significant now. Nurses are again leading the way, as Helen Ballantyne has been asked to chair the One Health Group as the BVNA representative. I know Helen will do an excellent job in representing us. Congratulations Helen!
Despite all of the difficulties of 2020 we can all see that there is light, there is change on the horizon. We as nurses have demonstrated our resilience and adaptability especially through this year. Let’s mould the future to how we want it. Exciting times are ahead!”