AVBC Forum sparks optimism and drives positive change in the veterinary profession

8 December 2022

AVBC hosted the Sustainable Practice Forum in Melbourne on 1 & 2 December 2022. Over 60 delegates attended. They came from across the profession representing veterinary associations, boards, schools, veterinary students, private and public veterinary practitioners, veterinary nurses and others. All attendees were focused on generating solutions that helped the profession, knowing that Forum outcomes would feed into AVBC Council’s strategic plan for the next five years.

The program addressed attrition in the profession, including new graduate transition to practice, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and intra-professional career change, and the role of veterinary specialists. Indigenous veterinarian, Dr Cam Raw, set the tone with a moving Acknowledgement of Country. AVBC’s Prof Rosanne Taylor and Prof Jennie Hodgson delivered updates on the new Day One Competencies and Accreditation Standards. Prof Jon Hill spoke about the demand for specialists & Dr Zoe Lenard reported on the impactful work already undertaken by the Sustainable Practice Committee.

Bringing their fresh ideas and big-picture thinking from outside of the profession and outside of the region, invited speakers included Clinical Chaplain and Specialist Veterinary Surgeon, Prof Richard Read (Perth, WA), Dr Valerie Ragan (Mid-career transitions, Virginia Tech, USA) and Dr Andy Maccabe (CEO American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges). Mr Iain McLachlan (VCNZ, CEO & Registrar) gave a session on how New Zealand approaches CPD, created a fit-for-purpose system, and provided a different method of new graduate support.

The quick wit of Forum Moderator Dr Anne Quain (University of Sydney, Veterinary Ethicist) kept everyone on the alert and focussed on solutions. Dr Quain helped attendees identify critical issues and design human-centred pathways to resolution. There was significant support for improving the relevance of CPD to individual needs through integrating Day One Competencies – especially non-technical skills (NTS) – into veterinary life.
Forum pitches by attendees provided a quick vignette about challenging and topical issues, including environmental sustainability, social responsibility, one-welfare, nationalised (ANZ) collection of data about the profession, improving transition to practice, supporting problems of aging and disability in the profession, and supporting NTS training.

The contributions from delegates were insightful, intelligent, and forward-thinking. Dr Louisa Johnson (SAFERVETS) said, “It really felt like so many perspectives were heard. Very powerful.” Dr Catherine Chicken commented, “It was wonderful to see so many people providing diverse perspectives on the big issues facing us all, with goodwill and a real purpose to improve the position of our much-loved profession.”

A memorable image from the Forum was Prof Read’s “Daisy in the Desert”, which spoke to the need to acknowledge the impact of the veterinary ecosystem on the individual. The outcomes from the Forum have the potential to bring meaningful change to the future landscape of the Australasian Veterinary profession, as they were considered in AVBC’s Strategic Planning Session. AVBC will release the 2023-2027 Strategic Plan in the first half of next year.

Dr John Craven, the founding Chair of the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee, said, “It is very reassuring to know that such an impressive group of people are working on matters influencing the sustainability of veterinary education and the subsequent careers of veterinarians.”

Group photo SPF


Notes & Abbreviations:

The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) drives the quality of the Australian and New Zealand veterinary profession by providing a forum for discussion, advice and cooperation among veterinary boards in Australia and New Zealand, encouraging the standardisation and quality assurance of veterinary services to the community and assuring and promoting uniform educational standards.

AAVMC: American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges

ACRVS: Advisory Committee on the Registration of Veterinary Specialists

AVA: Australian Veterinary Association

CPD: Continuing Professional Development

NZVA: New Zealand Veterinary Association

SPC: Sustainable Practice Committee

VSAAC: Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee

VSANZ: Veterinary Schools of Australia & New Zealand