Around one in five vets who started their careers in clinical practice are reporting that they do not currently work in practice, according to findings from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) which is launching a new CPD series in February to support members interested in returning to practice after a career break.
There are various reasons why vets take a break from practice or make a change in their career path. Some of these are distinct choices such as, having a family, working abroad or taking a sabbatical, whilst other reasons may be less under their control such as health issues. BVA’s recent Voice of the veterinary profession survey that polled vets who had left clinical practice found that 43% had done so looking for a new challenge and 33% looking for a different type of work.
Whatever the reason for taking a break, returning to practice can be both exciting and daunting. Over the last four years BVA’s Voice of the veterinary profession survey has consistently shown that about three out of five vets rate their job very highly in terms of interest and variation, whilst a similar proportion consider the level of stress to be difficult.
In a career that is both enjoyable and stressful in equal measure, returning to work after a career break can bring mixed feelings with both challenges and expectations.
Natalie Russell, a companion animal vet said about her experience of returning after maternity leave, “For me the main challenge about returning to practice was the self-confidence. Not only in my knowledge but also in my people skills. Many of those skills hadn’t gone and the knowledge was still there but a course like the ‘Back to Practice’ series would have helped me prepare and feel more confident in what I knew and how to apply it.”
The veterinary profession is one that evolves quickly: developments in diagnostics, medicines and ethics happen in a matter of months, as well as changes in the types of issues and animals that present themselves in the consulting room. Keeping abreast of these changes can provide a rewarding sense of learning but can also bring anxiety about being left behind, especially if vets step out of practice for some time.
Robin Hargreaves said about his return to practice after his year as BVA President, “It was quite a shock when I returned and, on reflection, I think it would have been valuable to have attended a course like the BVA Back to Practice series. Firstly, because after a year there were new approaches and medicines with which I wasn’t familiar and, secondly, because a course like this would have helped to reassure me that I hadn’t forgotten everything and also highlight what I needed to brush up on. It would perhaps have been easier to do this in a collegiate environment with fellow vets rather than in the consulting room.”
BVA has recognised the need to provide training and support to help vets who are returning to practice or changing practice by launching a new CPD series which aims to increase confidence and skills, as well as helping build a support network to ease the transition. The sessions in the ‘Back to Practice’ series will include updates on changes in practice, and refresh knowledge in key areas such as ophthalmology, dermatology and veterinary medicines.
The first of these, ‘Return to work with confidence and clarity’, will be held on 20 February 2018 at the BVA offices in central London, and there will be five other sessions in the series. BVA are offering a three-for-two offer on the courses.
British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:
“There are many instances of vets taking a break from practice or changing their speciality. Perhaps it’s because we are such a highly driven profession that there is a general assumption that returning to practice is just something we can take in our stride. BVA’s introduction of the Back to Practice course recognises that returning to clinical work can be difficult to navigate and that vets at any stage of their career may need support at this time.”