IVOC 2015: the future of the profession

Posted on April 10, 2015 by John Blackwell

Recently I attended this year’s meeting of the International Veterinary Officers Coalition (IVOC) which was hosted by the American Veterinary Medical Association in Las Vegas.

Following an enthusiastic presentation on day one by Rene Carlson, the recently elected president of the World Veterinary Association (WVA), the meeting focused on three key themes:

  • The future of the profession
  • Sustainability of national veterinary associations
  • The role of IVOC as a global voice for the profession

It was interesting to see that many of the issues discussed about the future of the profession are common to the Vet Futures project. 

Student debt and earnings

There was recognition of the increasing cost of education provision, student debt and low fee earning potential. The AVMA in particular provided a range of economic data suggesting that associations should worry less about oversupply and focus on growing the market for veterinary services.

Diversity and demographics

Lack of diversity and the changing gender demographic is common to all the associations and various initiatives are being encouraged to promote the value of the veterinary degree at high school level and to explore how the profession can adapt to promote increased flexibility in the workplace.


Wellness features highly on every national association’s agenda, with all engaged in promoting peer support, small group mentoring and mechanisms to both support and increase awareness of wellbeing throughout their membership and beyond.

Client engagement

We also talked about the declining numbers of veterinary visits, and practice profitability and economics. There were interesting discussions about schemes surrounding communication to the animal-owning public designed to increase and retain footfall. Forward booking systems are actively encouraged and a whole industry is developing around engagement with clients on various platforms to drive retention and promote lifelong care.

If you are interested in these topics, come along to the Vet Futures regional roadshows where vets, veterinary nurses and other members of the practice team can share their views on the future of the profession.

2015 IVOC team in Las Vegas
The presidents and CEOs of the six member associations at IVOC 2015 in Las Vegas

Back to IVOC, you can read my full article Comparing notes internationally in April’s edition of BVA News. It discusses the other two key themes of IVOC; sustainability of national veterinary associations, and the role of IVOC as a global voice for the profession.

The next IVOC meeting will be hosted in the UK in 2016, and, although the next BVA president will be the official BVA delegate, I very much look forward to renewing my acquaintance with this year’s cohort.


John Blackwell

Written by John Blackwell

BVA President from September 2014 to September 2015

John is a farm animal and equine practitioner, and a director at Brownlow Veterinary Centre in Shropshire. Follow John on Twitter