The South East regional representative on BVA Council is Suzanne Martin.
We encourage you to contact Suzanne by emailing: [email protected].
I am a 2008 Glasgow graduate, currently studying for a PhD in companion animal immunology at the Royal Veterinary College whilst working as a small animal locum at weekends. After graduation, I spent two years in mixed practice before moving to a small animal hospital in Wolverhampton. In 2012, I moved to London where I continued to work in companion animal practice until starting my PhD in 2014. For me, returning to academia was a great way to advance my career and gain new transferable skills. My funding also provided for a short work placement in the pharmaceutical sector. In my free time, I enjoy taking part in public outreach activities such as late night openings run by the RVC. I am also a committee member of Science London, a group which promotes science in and around the capital. More recently, I have become a Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) ambassador. STEM ambassadors support schools and youth groups in providing careers guidance for STEM subjects.
Poor retention, particularly amongst vets who are 8 years post graduation, is a recognised problem within the profession and in common with many of my piers, I have also experienced periods of disillusionment. The Vet Futures Survey in 2014, cited occupational stress as a key contributor to poor career satisfaction. Initiatives like Mind Matters are an invaluable tool in tackling this problem, but more work is needed on a number of levels throughout the industry. Moreover, veterinary educational institutions should provide the leading example in this regard. Many vets also feel let down by the profession because of a perceived lack of career progression, but perhaps what the profession truly lacks is consistent, well informed career guidance both at vet school and beyond. In particular, female veterinarians are far less likely to be in senior positions than male veterinarians and thus initiatives to promote leadership skills for women are to be welcomed.
In addition to addressing the challenges affecting individuals, the profession needs to look ahead. The needs of the clients we serve have never been more diverse and the profession must respond through the employment of new technologies and business models. We should all be incredibly proud of the work we do as veterinarians to support people, their animals and society as a whole. Raising the public profile of our industry will not only encourage young people from a range of backgrounds to consider applying for a veterinary degree, but will also help to strengthen the perceived value of our expertise. Brexit is bringing its own unique set of challenges and in the changes that lie ahead, individual veterinarians should be encouraged more than ever to contribute their voices to policy debates ranging from issues of animal welfare to food sustainability, biosecurity, public health and science funding. As a BVA regional representative I would be keen to support this and will be diligent in my efforts to canvass opinion through BVA online forums, social media and local events.