Vital for profession to unite in fight to retain EMS system - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Vital for profession to unite in fight to retain EMS system

LACK of money is the “elephant in the room” in the current debate over the future of the extramural rotation system for veterinary undergraduates, BVA members were told during the contentious issues session on education.

Professor Stuart Reid, dean of the Glasgow veterinary school, had listened with impatience to the formal presentations, feeling that the central problem was being ignored in the profession’s efforts to build a new structure for this unique feature of the British system for veterinary education.

It has been suggested that the veterinary schools offer practices benefits in terms of cut-rate CPD and cheaper diagnostic services in return for hosting their students during the compulsory 26-week period of what used to be called “seeing practice”.

No spare resources

However, the universities have no spare resources and were struggling to survive within their existing financial constraints.

So it was vital that the profession united in lobbying for recognition by the funding bodies that the EMS system was effectively an extra year on top of the standard five-year veterinary degree – and fund the schools accordingly. Otherwise any changes resulting from the efforts of the RCVS EMS working party would only provide a temporary fix and the debate would re-emerge in a few years’ time.

Jewel in the crown

Professor Barry Johnson, who chairs the working party, believed that the EMS system was the jewel in the crown of the British veterinary profession and it was something that other countries were trying to replicate.

“It is clear that there is a continued willingness by practices to provide this valuable training for students without expecting payment,” he said.

But there is still scope for practitioners, students and the universities to work together in improving the efficiency of the system, particularly in areas of weakness, such as training in veterinary public health.

While he would welcome recognition by the government that financial resources are a serious problem for the veterinary schools, he was not optimistic about the prospects of receiving increased funding. “Let’s face it, it is not going to happen.”

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