Communication is the key - Veterinary Practice
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Communication is the key

NICKY PAULL looks back on a challenging but exhausting year as BVA president

THEY say time flies when you’re busy. Well, being BVA president has certainly been busy, but it’s also been challenging, difficult, exciting, exhausting, and at times really enjoyable.

And now I’m at the end of my year I’d like to reflect on how well the BVA has risen to the challenge of my theme of improving communication: communication with politicians, the media, the public and, importantly, with our own members and divisions.

Just to make sure BVA presidents are absolutely shattered by the time we get to congress, SPVS kindly organises the final year seminar in Lancaster at the beginning of September. But what a wonderful event it is and even though I’m physically tired, the excitement and enthusiasm of those students about to embark on their veterinary careers is truly invigorating.

It’s these types of events that have been the most enjoyable part of my presidential term. As nice as BVA HQ is, I’ve loved getting out and about talking to anyone who will listen about anything and everything from TB testing to EMS and from pet travel to BVA membership and more.

It’s true that sometimes I’ve felt a bit likeatravelling salesman – flogging the benefits of the BVA around the country (and rarely seeing my own bed!). But the truth is that I feel honoured to have been at the head of this fantastic organisation.

Engaging with recent graduates

I’m delighted that during my presidential year the BVA has made a huge effort to engage with the needs of recent graduates at a time in their careers when our support is crucial.

Recent graduate support meetings, the BVA New Graduate Guide and the work of the Young Vet Network are all resources I wish I’d had as a young vet starting out.

But contrary to some views, it’s not all about the young folk. Discounted BUPA health insurance, Lloyd & Whyte financial services and the myriad guides produced in-house for the benefit of BVA members are there to see us through every stage of our careers and even our personal lives.

One past president (who shall remain nameless) says the healthcare he’s received through BUPA is worth the membership fee alone!

Anyway, that’s enough of my sales pitch; back to communication. I’m sure you can never really tell what a politician is thinking as they tend to tell you what you want to hear, but I think we’ve really established ourselves as the go-to guys on veterinary and animal issues and I’m pleased to report that we continue to have a good relationship with the people making the decisions in Whitehall.

As I write this I’m getting ready for BVA congress and it reminds me that perhaps the ultimate example of the BVA opening up the lines of communication is our session bringing together all four chief veterinary officers of the UK (aka our hotline to the Government). What an opportunity for vets from all over the country and in all types of practice to communicate directly with the people who shape our profession.

Something for everyone

Congress 09 is also notable for the significant input from our divisions running excellent sessions in their specialist areas, helping the BVA to truly provide something for everyone.

The theme for congress, Together forever?, marks 10 years of devolution in Scotland and Wales, which has had a considerable impact on policy-making on animal health and welfare in the UK.

In the past year I’ve been impressed by the local networks our branches in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have created and the links to the devolved administrations we have built up within each country and nationally. And so I pass on the mantle to my successor, Bill Reilly, feeling happy with the strides we’ve taken in communication. But of course there’s always more to be done, and as past-president I’ll continue to use my position to keep the lines of contact open.

As Stephen Hawking once said, “It’ll be okay as long as we keep talking.”

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