Professionalism and professional skills are increasingly being incorporated into veterinary curricula; however, lack of clarity in defining veterinary professionalism presents a potential challenge for directing course outcomes that are of benefit to the veterinary professional. An online continuing education course in veterinary professionalism was designed to address a deficit in postgraduate support in this area; as part of this course, delegates of varying practice backgrounds participated in online discussions reflecting on the implications of professional skills for their clinical practice. The discussions surrounding the role of the veterinary professional and reflecting on strengths and weaknesses in professional skills were analysed using narrative methodology, which provided an understanding of the defining skills and attributes of the veterinary professional, from the perspectives of those involved (i.e. how vets understood their own career identity). The veterinary surgeon was understood to be an interprofessional team member, who makes clinical decisions in the face of competing stakeholder needs and works in a complex environment comprising multiple and diverse challenges (stress, high emotions, financial issues, work–life balance). It was identified that strategies for accepting fallibility, and those necessary for establishing reasonable expectations of professional behaviour and clinical ability, are poorly developed.
- Veterinary profession