Young farm vets on the VetPartners New Graduate Programme are now able to tap into one-to-one advice and support to help them develop their careers, or if they simply want a sympathetic ear on the other end of a phone.
The first cohort of 25 vets on the Farm Animal New Graduate Programme joined VetPartners last September, and are working across the group’s 28 UK practices, including LLM Farm Vets, Westpoint Farm Vets, Clyde Vets, Penbode Vets and Willows Veterinary Group.
Tim Potter, senior clinical director at Westpoint Farm Vets in Horsham, West Sussex, heads the VetPartners Farm Animal New Graduate Programme, and is responsible for mentoring students himself or arranging for support from other senior vets throughout the group.
The mentoring sessions are held face-to-face or on the phone, and young vets will also be signposted to a range of support services provided by VetPartners, including wellbeing advice, learning and development, HR and specific clinical advice through the Clinical Board Special Interest Groups.
Mentoring newcomers to the profession also helps them to bridge the gap between university and life as a vet in practice.
Tim said: “People coming out of university experience a massive change in lifestyle. Their support networks are disrupted, they have to make friends in an area they don’t know and they’re in a stressful, demanding job. Farm vets in particular can find themselves isolated as, unlike small animal vets, they’re not always in the practice with their team immediately around them, they are working out of cars in a rural area.
“We want to ensure our farm vets have a wider network they can rely on for advice and support. Over the two years, they attend workshops with their cohort of farm graduates, where they can share experiences, receive feedback and hear from experts in our business.
“Having an external mentor provides a safe space to discuss concerns, challenges, mistakes or successful outcomes, possibly in confidence with people from outside of their practice.”
VetPartners supports some of the UK’s most respected and trusted farm veterinary practices to deliver outstanding service.
With a commitment to livestock production, the group has dedicated practices working in ruminant, pig and poultry. They make part of the largest farm veterinary business in the UK, with 28 businesses working in agriculture and 300 farm vets.
Nurturing a new generation of great young farm vets as they embark on their career also helps them to make greater choices in their career and develop a wider range of skills in other areas of veterinary medicine.
Tim explained: “For many of our new graduates, their career path has been mapped out since the age of 12 and then suddenly they have made it and they are left wondering about what’s next. We have mentoring sessions timetabled to discuss how we develop careers and show them what pathways are available.
“One of the real strengths of this is that if vets are, for example, in a beef-focused area but want to develop their knowledge, they can get other clinical skills under their belt at our other practices.
“Because of the depth of farm animal practices we have at VetPartners and the range of experts, we are able to share knowledge, expertise and experience. As a business, the benefits of a mentoring programme are that we can develop clinicians of the future and ensure they have the support they need.”