“THE majority of the profession are still involved in first-opinion practice but we are not addressing the issue of students moving into practice,” Peter Robinson told the November meeting of the RCVS council.
Pointing out that many of the changes of the last 50 years had been about ownership of practices and specialisation, he said that training had not kept pace with the changes and the College needed to address the issues of selection of students and their preparedness for practice.
Jacqui Molyneux commented that a lot of new graduates were trained the way James Herriot was – and simply “dropped in it”. She went on to ask: “Why would graduates want to stay in a job where they are scared all the time?” Later in the discussion she said that practices were expecting more from new graduates than they should.
Mr Robinson said the situation could be improved when graduates were starting their first jobs but students were not taught about beginning in practice.
Professor Gary England of the Nottingham veterinary school asked whether he thought the schools were delivering a 1960s curriculum – a suggestion he considered both insulting and bizarre – and wanted to know where the evidence was for this.
Mr Robinson responded that veterinary nurses moved seamlessly from training into practice but this was not happening with newly graduated vets. He added that from his dealings with new graduates he knew them to be well-educated, but that they found the transition into practice difficult.
Professor David Argyle from the Edinburgh school said the profession needed a change in philosophy: “We have to embrace the concept that we are not developing students for practice. If you want a practice-ready vet you will not get it from us – at least from Edinburgh!” He said.
Dr Kit Sturgess said: “Our professionalism as a profession is not as it should be … the profession must understand its responsibilities if it wants to have five- and 10-year graduates.” He believed it was the duty of the Royal College and not just the universities to ensure that students were prepared for practice.
Professor Tim Greet declared that it was self-interest that graduates were prepared to take on responsibilities in practice.
Chris Gray was the last to speak in this discussion about the College’s new strategic plan which is due to be launched in January. “We live in a blame culture,” he said. “I think our new graduates are incredibly well educated but they are not prepared for the blame being heaped upon them by clients in their practices.”
*The College has been unable to agree on a new vision statement. It was stated at the council meeting that there was no disagreement on the direction of the College “but we have failed to encapsulate the vision in a few words”.