Seeking to apply faith to veterinary life - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Seeking to apply faith to veterinary life

Veterinary Practice begins an occasional series on associations within the profession with Ali Budgell, secretary of the Veterinary Christian Fellowship, outlining the role and work of this well-established group.

THE VETERINARY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP is an association of Christians in the veterinary and allied professions.

It was started back in the 1950s when Christian vets, led by Sydney Jennings of the Glasgow veterinary school, met up during a national CPD meeting to discuss issues of common interest with regard to their faith and veterinary work.

Since that time it has grown to a membership of more than 700 across the UK and the world, and exists to prayerfully support and encourage others.

It is linked with the Christian Unions of all of the UK and Irish veterinary schools and has growing links with the UK’s nursing colleges.

For students, it provides a mentoring scheme, EMS placements and support from vets in practice. New graduates can also receive mentoring and support as they move from the “relative comfort” of university life, with college friends close by and clinicians checking any decisions made, to new areas of the country, long hours and very challenging decisions and the loss of their friendship base.

For older graduates, those in practice and other veterinary professionals there is the opportunity to explore how they apply their faith to their veterinary life.

The VCF achieves its aims of support and encouragement through a yearly conference and through regular newsletters that share ideas, ethical issues and testimonies, support the colleges and hear from those working overseas.

The conferences are a great opportunity for students, new graduates, vets and nurses in practice, those on maternity leave, and those in allied professions to meet and share together. The talks, which are generally led by a vet who has been or is still in practice, are always thought-provoking and highly relevant to life within the veterinary profession.

Seminars on a wide variety of topics give the opportunity to discuss different issues in smaller groups and in more depth and range from overseas missionaries returning to give updates on their work, how we deal with mental health issues and a new graduate seminar where a young graduate can discuss with students about the joys and challenges of taking those early steps into practice life.

Meal and coffee times provide an excellent opportunity to meet and network with other folk, for students to find the best places to see practice, and to see if there would be someone who would make a good mentor for them in the future.

As time passes, the Fellowship has rapidly adapted to the changes as members who initially came as students, then as young graduates, then as couples are now bringing their families along, and a separate children’s programme has been building up.

A growing network of regional groups throughout the UK and Ireland allows members to get to know others in their area. They are there to encourage and support students through their time at college, as they graduate and begin work, when new members arrive in an area, and if they may be struggling with various issues and can help to link them with professionals who are able to help.

Many also have links with one of a number of VCF missionaries working overseas and can be supporting and praying for them individually.

CPD is very important to VCF and Dr David Williams will be presenting the first of a number of day meetings by different members to explore a relevant topic, but with an added Christian theme.

On 18th October he will be hosting a meeting at St Johns College Cambridge, considering how the eye has evolved, the things that damage it and how we are able to repair it, and linking this with the Bible story. It promises to be an excellent, and highly entertaining day.

If you would like to know more about the VCF, visit www.vcf.org.uk or e-mail secretary@vcf.org.uk.

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