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AVBC Forum sparks optimism in driving positive change in the veterinary profession

8 December 2022

AVBC hosted the Sustainable Practice Forum in Melbourne on 1 & 2 December 2022, with delegates from diverse sectors of the veterinary profession attending. Representatives from  veterinary associations, boards, schools, veterinary students, private and public veterinary practitioners, veterinary nurses and other stakeholders devised solutions critical for advancing the sustainability of the veterinary profession. The outcomes from the Forum informed AVBC Council’s strategic plan for the next five years.

Addressing pressing concerns within the profession, the program covered themes such as attrition from the profession, new graduate transition to practice, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and intra-professional career change, and the evolving role of veterinary specialists. Setting an inclusive and respectful tone, Indigenous veterinarian, Dr Cam Raw, delivered a moving Acknowledgement of Country to start the day. AVBC Standing Committee Chairs 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 fresh perspectives from outside the profession and 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) shared insights from New Zealand’s innovating approaches to CPD and support for new graduate veterinarians.

Forum Moderator, Dr Anne Quain (University of Sydney, Veterinary Ethicist), ensured lively discussions and a focus on actionable solutions. Attendees participated in identifying critical issues and designing human-centred pathways to resolution. There was significant support for improving the relevance of CPD to individual needs by integrating Day One Competencies and non-technical skills (NTS) into veterinary education and practice.

Forum pitches highlighted the diverse challenges facing the profession, including environmental sustainability, social responsibility, One-Welfare, nationalised (ANZ) collection of data about the profession, improving transition to practice, supporting aging and disability in the profession, and 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 moment of the event came from Prof Read’s “Daisy in the Desert” analogy, illustrating the need to acknowledge the impact of the veterinary ecosystem on the individual. The outcomes from the Forum promise to bring meaningful change to the future landscape of the Australasian Veterinary landscape, as they inform AVBC’s forthcoming Strategic Plan.

Dr John Craven, 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