We held a very successful VN Futures stream at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress at the beginning of April in which we had the opportunity to update delegates on how the project has been progressing since the publication of the VN Futures Report and Action Plan in July 2016 and highlight some of the key themes and actions.

The stream began with a panel discussion between Liz Cox, Chair of our Veterinary Nurses Council, and Chair of the VN Futures Action Group and fellow VN Futures Action Group members Dot Creighton and Stephanie Writer-Davies. The wide-ranging discussion encompassed issues such as technological development within the veterinary sector and how this could both help and hinder the role of the veterinary nurse. The panel members also discussed with delegates the framework for further training, education and career development for veterinary nurses after they join the Register and how their skills can be better utilised.

This was followed by a talk from Helen Ballantyne who is both a medical and a veterinary nurse and who, appropriately, heads up the VN Futures Action Group looking at One Health and cross-professional collaboration. Her talk covered the ties that have already been established between the VN Futures Action Group and the Royal College of Nursing including a joint publicity campaign about smoking cessation which encouraged people to stop smoking by highlighting the potential damage it can cause to pets.

Renay Rickard, chair of the VN Futures Career Progression Group, was the next to talk with a presentation on how veterinary nurses can develop a structured and rewarding career path by using personal development to maximise their potential and raising public and professional awareness of the vital role veterinary nurses play in the veterinary team. Her talk highlighted the impact personal development can have in areas such as confidence, self-esteem, job satisfaction, employability and, ultimately, earning power for veterinary nurses.

The final talk was from VN Council member and VN Futures Workforce Group member Matthew Rendle who talked about his own diverse veterinary nursing career and how it reflects the diversity of options open to veterinary nurses. He also discussed the VN Ambassador pilot, in conjunction with STEM Learning, and called for registered veterinary nurses to put themselves forward to take part in the initiative. If you would like more information please contact Claire O’Leary at c.olearly@rcvs.org.uk

Leadership and veterinary nurses

The need to encourage leadership skills amongst the professions came out very strongly and clearly through both the Vet Futures and VN Futures projects and this was integrated into our three- year Strategic Plan with an ambition to “become a Royal College with leadership and innovation at its heart, and support this creatively and with determination"

This is why we were excited to launch our Leadership initiative at BSAVA Congress which will run in parallel with our ViVet innovation project launched last year. The goals of the initiative include integrating leadership into the continuing professional development and education of veterinary surgeons and nurses through the creation of a Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC) and highlighting leadership opportunities.

We are currently taking registrations for a pilot version of the MOOC, which is called the Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme and was developed in conjunction with the NHS Leadership Academy, which will start in late June. It is vital that veterinary nurses take part in this pilot and so we would encourage you to sign up – for Archers fans the course also includes an audio drama featuring veterinary professionals living in the fictional county of Glenvern, which provides for reflection and learning about the diverse leadership challenges veterinary professionals face on a daily basis.

Please visit our dedicated leadership page on www.rcvs.org. uk/leadership to find out how to sign up to the pilot. You can also contact Anthony Roberts, our Director of Leadership and Innovation, for a discussion about the project and the MOOC on a.roberts@rcvs.org.uk

The benefits of flexibility

Last but not least, our VN Futures project held a dedicated event about flexible working and how it can benefit the veterinary team in early May at the Dovecote Veterinary Hospital near Derby.

The event was held for nurses and employers who currently either have flexible working and job-share processes in place in practice and for those who are considering introducing such systems into the workplace. The event gave some advice on how it works practically for individuals, the veterinary team and potential issues to be aware of when job sharing or locuming.

There was a variety of presentations covering the employers’ perspective, how to job share and how to manage your own time as a locum.

A report of the event, including pictures, will be published on the VN Futures website (www.vetfutures.org.uk/vnfutures) in due course.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 33 • June 2018