New RCVS President wants better access to vet professions

New RCVS President wants better access to vet professions

RCVS President Dr Sue Paterson FRCVS has vowed to focus on how to widen access and participation in the veterinary professions to those from different socioeconomic, ethnic and religious groups.

In her inaugural address at the RCVS Annual General Meeting on 7 July at One Great George Street in Westminster, she spoke about the fact that she herself was not from an affluent background and was told by teachers and career advisors that she would not be suitable to become a vet.

She said: “My theme [for this year] will be focussed on recruitment and particularly widening participation, as one of the three themes of the RCVS Workforce Action Plan. I want to get out during my presidential year and talk to school children and teachers, especially head teachers at their conferences, to make them aware of the opportunities that are available to a veterinary science graduate.

“I want to continue to work with the Veterinary Schools Council’s Widening Participation Vet Schools Network to make school children from all backgrounds aware, whether they are from a large, single-sex private school, or a mixed-faith inner-city comprehensive, that veterinary science is accessible to them.

“A veterinary science degree equips graduates with the appropriate skillset to follow a myriad of different career paths. For example, in clinical practice caring for people’s beloved pets or working with farmers to produce high-welfare food in an economical and sustainable way. Not to mention groundbreaking research into human and animal diseases, public health to help safeguard food security, the pharmaceutical industry to develop new and innovative treatments, and the armed forces to maintain the health and welfare of military working animals. I could go on.

“As professions, and this means not just veterinary surgeons but veterinary nurses, we need to get out there and sell ourselves to the wider public. We have made a start, but we need to become more inclusive and diverse. We need to do some myth-busting about the real requirements needed to be a vet or vet nurse. There is no doubt you do need to have good A levels to study veterinary medicine, but, beyond that, bright students from any background can join our professions. You can be a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse if you are black or white; Muslim or Christian; and from any socioeconomic background.”

Sue is the 12th female President of the RCVS, leading the first all-female Officer Team, comprising the now Senior Vice-President Dr Melissa Donald MRCVS, Junior Vice-President Linda Belton and Treasurer Dr Tshidi Gardiner MRCVS as well as VN Council Chair Belinda Andrews-Jones RVN who attends Officer Team meetings as an observer.

Sue qualified from the University of Cambridge Veterinary School in 1984 and, after some time in mixed practice, took her Certificate and then British and European Diplomas in Veterinary Dermatology – a subject area in which she has been an RCVS and European Specialist for more than 20 years. Additionally, she was elected a Fellow of the RCVS for meritorious contributions to clinical practice.

She was first elected to RCVS Council in 2014.