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The Big Picture
Celebrating veterinary leaders

Abstract

Georgina Mills discusses how the RCVS is furthering its commitment to inspiring leadership in the profession

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‘Being a leader is all about becoming a role model and recognising that. It’s behaving in ways you would wish people to emulate in order to contribute to our profession and to society as a whole.’

These are the words of vet Liz Mossop in a video of veterinary leaders to be presented at Royal College Day this week.

The video features interviews with 12 inspiring veterinary leaders from a variety of backgrounds, roles and career stages.

Supported by outgoing RCVS president Amanda Boag, the video reflects the strong emphasis she has put on the need for all members of the vet team – not only those in senior positions – to develop everyday leadership skills during her presidential year.

The RCVS launched its leadership initiative last year, following the creation of an online leadership course. The three-year drive aims to focus on positioning leadership skills as an integral part of veterinary professionals’ continuing education.

The vet professionals who feature in the video are (clockwise from left):

  • University of Nottingham PhD student Bobby Hyde

  • Incoming RCVS president Niall Connell

  • Vet student Hatti Smart, who is playing a leadership role in the veterinary LGBT+ community

  • Joanna Price, vice-chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University

  • Liz Mossop, deputy vice-chancellor for student development and engagement at the University of Lincoln

  • RCVS veterinary nurses council member Matthew Rendle

  • Sarah Colegrave, clinical director of a small animal practice

  • Gemma Irwin-Porter, who leads a team of tutors providing pastoral care for student vet nurses at the University of Bristol

  • StreetVet’s Sam Joseph

  • Ross Allan, a partner at a Glasgow-based veterinary hospital

  • Richard Artingstall, clinical director at a referral centre

  • Victoria Fyfe, a vet nurse who leads her practice team to engage with the Practice Standards Scheme

In the video, each contributor talks about coping with the challenges of being a leader – added responsibility, a lack of personal confidence and making critical decisions – but also of how vet professionals can naturally adapt to these positions, no matter what role they are in.

Artingstall says: ‘Vets are problem solvers and leadership is about assessing, managing and solving problems.’

There is real compassion… I think vets find themselves in leadership positions because they care. Because they really believe in what they are doing’, says Joseph.

They also speak about the importance of leadership at a time when the profession is rapidly changing, with an increase in technology and corporatisation.

But with change comes teamwork, and having everyone on the same page is key, says Smart. And as Price adds, leadership allows people to bring about change and to make a real positive difference.

Reflecting on the video, Boag said: ‘We believe leadership is something that is ongoing, and something that can be demonstrated at any stage of a career… I am very proud that one of my last acts as president is to launch this and I hope that other members of the profession find the diverse stories and experiences contained therein as exciting as I do.’

The full video can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/InspiringLeaders

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