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Career-long support that starts with new graduates
  1. Darren Mackintosh

Abstract

Armed with the knowledge that newly qualified vets want a clinical mentor and surgical support in their first job, Independent Vetcare set up its two-year Graduate Academy. Operations manager Darren Mackintosh describes how it works

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WHEN we first began developing the scope and content of the Graduate Academy, it was as part of the group's holistic approach to learning and development. We have created a CPD journey from student (EMS programme) to newly qualified vet (Graduate Academy) to established professional (IVC Academy). This journey offers structured support for vets at every stage of their career.

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In our Graduate Academy, new vets are supported, challenged appropriately and encouraged to develop to their potential. Our first intake of 10 graduates joined in September 2014, and numbers have grown significantly each academic year since.

Features of Graduate Academy

Year 1

▪ Exemption from the clinical rota and out-of-hours (OOH) rota during the first month of employment. Second on-call from month 2, with first on-call being introduced during month 3 (if the vet and clinical coach agree).

▪ At least six days of the first month are spent working alongside the veterinary nursing and customer care teams to understand how the wider practice team works and strengthen support networks.

▪ At least one fully supported neutering procedure is undertaken each week.

▪ Consultation skills training and coaching.

▪ Access to weekend OOH clinic experience.

▪ Twelve days of CPD with external trainers and experts, comprised of a variety of wet lab sessions, practical workshops and seminars.

Year 2

In the second year of the academy programme, vets undertake a further 10 days of clinical CPD across specialisms such as orthopaedics and ophthalmology. As a further commitment, IVC offers vets who have come to the end of the two-year Graduate Academy fully funded study for a recognised certificate if they choose to stay with their practice.

In 2013, Onswitch did some extensive work with new graduates, which highlighted that the primary attraction of a first vet job was access to a clinical mentor (mentioned by 78 per cent) and surgical support for routine procedures (68 per cent). The Graduate Academy delivers these components, along with a CPD budget offering 12 days' training in a wide range of medical, surgical, personal development and business areas in the first year alone. New vets are not simply left to get on with the job, but encouraged and supported appropriately by the practice team throughout the two-year academy and beyond.

‘New vets are supported, challenged appropriately and encouraged to develop their potential’

Participating practices choose to join the scheme as Academy Practices, so new graduates can be assured that they will find consistently high standards of support and development across these practices. In addition to a dedicated clinical coach, new graduates benefit from a self-selected personal mentor (based at the practice or at a sister site). Clinical coaches are selected for their experience and pragmatism – they are required to be either the practice's clinical director or an experienced senior vet within the practice team; all have undertaken IVC clinical coaching training.

CPD

Regular CPD events take place with other graduates in the same academy year, building a strong and supportive social network with peers across the country.

A number of current Graduate Academy vets work in mixed practices, but at present the CPD programme largely focuses on companion animals (of course many topics are applicable across species). Specific equine and large animal CPD is currently in development to best meet the specific needs of our mixed practice vets as the Graduate Academy programme continues to expand and evolve.

Further information is available from www.independentvetcare.co.uk. We are happy to put prospective applicants in touch with vets who are currently registered in the Academy or who have completed it. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find what our new graduates are up to.

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