Introducing The GP Vet Futures Programme

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

They are at the very heart of the veterinary profession, the vanguard on whom both the industry and the world's pet owners depend.

Now industry leader IVC Evidensia is taking ground-breaking steps as part of our mission to create the best primary care network in the world with the launch this month of our pioneering GP Vet Futures Award Programme.

It aims to shine a spotlight on the GP vets who are the first point of contact for owners, ensuring their hard work and unparalleled range of talents and skills are showcased as never before. 

In a European first, IVC Evidensia vets will be recognised for the skills they already have, as well as supported to achieve new skills within the GP framework.

The programme is intended to increase their status within the profession, boost confidence and ability, and provide a clear, individualised pathway to career progression.

The aim is to increase staff satisfaction on the way to supporting retention, as a lack of career progression is frequently cited as a key reason for leaving the profession – a trend IVC Evidensia is taking hugely positive steps to reverse through many ongoing activities, of which this is one. 

And, according to one of the driving forces behind the GP Vet Futures Award, vet Edward Davies BVSc MRCVS, change is needed. 

“The GP vet underpins the profession,” said Mr Davies, who has just taken up the newly created role of Aspirational GP Lead, after stepping down as chair of the IVC Evidensia Small Animal Clinical Board.
“The plethora of skills a GP vet has is unparalleled when you look at other professions. With this programme, we want to recognise the core and expansive knowledge sets we as GP vets possess, celebrate the ongoing achievement and acknowledge the gravity of having such a penetrative, thorough range of capabilities.
And that’s not just at an individual level, but also an organisational and professional level.” 

The new programme has been created to inspire not just those taking part initially, but also colleagues who can see the fresh enthusiasm and recognition. 

And Dr Gayle Hallowell, IVC Evidensia Director of Professional Development, can look back over her two decades of veterinary experience to see how important inspiration can be. 

“I’ve worked in everything from first opinion practice to military practice to high end referral,” said Dr Hallowell. “All along, there have been vets I have looked up to and been inspired by. When I was still at school, I spent the equivalent of a year alongside a vet who taught me so much and I remember saying I hoped I’d still love being a vet as much as he did after 20 years. 

“We want to use this programme to develop the general practice role models I had. I’ve always wanted to be the very best at everything I do, and we want to allow everyone in general practice to similarly develop their skills and shine in all that they do.” 

This is what the new GP Vet Futures programme has been designed to address. Preparatory work has been ongoing for over a year and the business has made it a priority. 

An initial two cohorts of up to 20-30 vets from across the business will take part over the next 12 months, and the expectation is it will take around two years for every cohort to complete. 

It’s a portfolio-based assessment by peers which documents how the vet has approached many of the important aspects of general practice. 

It will provide a tailor-made structure to further build their career. There will be six core and three elective categories, broken down into achievable bite-sized chunks and with success points that can rapidly be reached.  
The core section includes the elements seen as fundamental to being a successful GP vet, complimented by the individual vet’s selection of three elective modules which best fit their clinical interests. 

“Some people will already simply be able to demonstrate their skill within an area,” said Dr Hallowell. “Others will be signposted to material to help bring them up to date or enable them to think differently about an area to then demonstrate their ability. 

“So, it will be a combination of learning and demonstrating what they already know. But it will very much be at the individual’s own pace, and it is being structured so as not to add to pressures in an already-stressful world. It’s really about just showcasing how great they are.”

An acceptance that not everything will go right all the time is also being encouraged and a realisation that lessons can always be learned when that’s the case. But, equally, that huge satisfaction can come from the successful outcome of cases tackled. GP Vet Futures Award applications will be open to all vets across the group, with the intention of then establishing a network of participants who can then mentor others. 
It’s expected to be of interest to experienced and talented vets of different ages and at different stages of their career. 

“We would anticipate that it will become self-perpetuating as those who take part will then provide coaching and peer-to-peer interaction and therefore help grow the process,” said Mr Davies. “It’s just building on what, broadly, many are already doing within practices, while supporting those clinics where that may not be happening to the same extent.” said Dr Hallowell.  

“We know the best way to demonstrate GP skills is a practice format, which is why there are no exams. Not only are support resources available through a blend of media to suit individuals learning needs and styles, the same is true for assessment. These can be submitted in writing, verbally or even by video evidence. 

As well as both additional skills and a resultant confidence boost, the GP Vet Futures Award is also intended to be externally accredited. 

The portfolio-based recognition programme will acknowledge the completion of each capability as they are gained, once all capabilities are gained to fulfil the module they relate to, the module is also recognised. It will result in a really positive impact on someone’s confidence and self-worth throughout the experience. And, as the GP Vet Futures Award launches, there is a real momentum and confidence that it will have the desired effect. 

“Even though we question it enormously these days, a vet’s judgment is incredibly robust,” said Mr Davies. “One of the fundamentals of this programme is to reinforce the capabilities an individual has from very early stages in their career. 

“We want all GP vets to value their ability to perform their jobs, appreciate their abilities and have an appetite to confidently take cases forward, so they can enjoy the fulfilling career of being a GP vet to the max.”