Ah ha! It worked! Perhaps the online blog writing course is starting to pay off!
Is it just me or does there seem to be a lot more articles written, workshops held, lectures at conferences about supporting new and recent veterinary graduates in practice? Personally, I think it is fantastic. However, are new grads receiving more support? I read an article in the Vet Record written by Richard Halliwell and his colleagues, who suggested that based on their initial results, new grad underwear, erm, I mean new grads could be better supported.
The ‘Viewpoint’ article was based on the preliminary findings of a postal survey, which achieved a response rate of 37%, completed by 649 vets in 2012 who graduated between 2007 and 2011. In terms of support with respect to clinical procedures, 10.2% always stated that a colleague would scrub in with them if performing the procedure for the first time, whereas, 16.2% claimed that such support was never provided. My experience was typical of the vast majority of respondents where surgical assistance was hit and miss.
The majority of respondents were members of the BVA but less than a third of these vets attended one of the Young Vet Network meetings. Similarly, I am in the majority again! I was aware of the meetings and had good intentions of attending but due to the on call rota and being exhausted most of the time, the drive to the meeting seemed like too much. A simple concept, which may not be familiar to many vets in practice, known as finishing on time, would be a great start. I appreciate that the nature of the veterinary beast means that this might not be possible everyday but, should happen most days.
In terms of moving forward, the authors suggested that a formal method for mentoring new grads should be considered. In my opinion, it’s a shame that this approach needs to be proposed. Surely it’s common knowledge that if people enjoy their work, they are more productive and this enthusiasm is infectious. If new grads are left to (I apologise, I wasn’t going to mention this phrase) sink or swim, it doesn’t bode well for the future which is perfectly demonstrated by the high attrition rate of vets in practice. I don’t spend much time in practice anymore and this is because of my bad experience as a new grad. However, I am pleased to report that I have found a supportive practice with team members with whom I can be completely open without fear of being judged, so they do exist!
The second proposal is providing BVA membership free of charge to all new grads. The authors discussed some of the options of how this could be financed. Two initiatives have been announced since the results from the survey which include the ‘Vet Futures’ project which is a collaboration between the BVA and RCVS. The RCVS has also launched ‘Mind Matters’ which sponsored the Mindfulness Series hosted by The Webinar Vet earlier this year. This series was hugely popular and as a result, another series will be launched in October.
I am looking forward to reading the full report from Richard Halliwell and his colleagues, and the progress of the Vet Futures and Mind Matters initiatives. I hope the future becomes brighter for the majority of veterinary new grads embarking on a career in veterinary practice.
Blease’s Blog based on Halliwell, R. et al (2016) Stress in new graduates: can the profession do more to help? Veterinary Record Vol. 178 No. 25 pp 635-636.