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On course. Introduction to the UK veterinary profession
  1. Heather Manning


‘Introduction to the UK veterinary profession’ is one of the BVA's CPD courses. Heather Manning describes what she gained from it.

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Who's it for?

This course is designed for graduates of foreign veterinary schools, both those who are new to the UK and those who are already practising here but want to improve their knowledge of veterinary regulation and their communications skills.

How is it structured?

The course is a two-day seminar, with the first day focusing on understanding the roles of various professional organisations such as the BVA, the RCVS and the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS), so that the participant learns exactly what functions each organisation fulfils and how those activities impact on a vet's daily role. Additional information concerning effective interactions with the veterinary team and techniques for finding the right job is also presented.

The second day consists of live role-playing with professional actors playing the role of clients in various scenarios common in veterinary practice. We were split into smaller groups so that everyone had an opportunity to practise communication techniques in a non-threatening atmosphere and benefit from the feedback of their peers and group leaders. While attendance at both days isn't a requirement, the information presented on the first day is helpful in shaping appropriate responses during the role-playing that takes place the following day.

When did you do it?

June 18 and 19, 2013

Why did you do it?

Although English is my first language, I felt that as an American practising in another country for the first time, I could benefit from becoming more familiar with the cultural and legal expectations that apply to the practice of veterinary medicine in the UK. Armed with this knowledge I have greater comfort interacting with UK clients, professional colleagues, and various legal representatives in my work day, which in turn improves the level of care I deliver and lowers my personal stress level.

What did it entail?

Participation was as simple as signing up for the course online and then arranging a place to stay for one night in London.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the two-day course was £354, with transport, lodging and meals outside course hours being arranged by the participant. Coffee, tea, and lunches were provided. My employer funded this course.

Was it worth it?

I found the course informative and helpful. Having the various roles of the BVA, RCVS, and VDS carefully explained really made a difference to how I understand the hierarchy of the professional organisations in the UK. When I returned to work, I was even able to clarify for a UK colleague exactly what role the RCVS fulfils when handling client complaints and whose interests it has at the forefront of its mandate. I also enjoyed the communication master class as I feel that while we all make mistakes, it's better to make them in an atmosphere that allows you to learn from those mistakes and reflect about how you could improve, should you find yourself in a similar situation in the real world.

Top tip

Be sure to approach other participants and get to know them. Some of the stories people have about what brought them to the UK to practice are fascinating and help put your own history into perspective. I found the group to be, by and large, very friendly and open to making new connections both professional and personal, which can be invaluable as you progress in your career in the UK.

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