Journal news

Disciplinary case based on client consent

An editorial and news report of a disciplinary case involving social media (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, pp 537, 538) prompted me to read the relevant sections of the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct.

There is a large amount of open access case-based veterinary CPD material available on the internet including powerpoint lectures, educational videos and veterinary quiz photographs. The guide says, ‘steps should be taken to anonymise the client, and/or the client’s animal’ on closed veterinary discussion forums. I had assumed that simply excluding the client’s name, address and contact details was sufficient. Is this not the case? Is open access material judged by different standards from closed access?

The news article reports that details of the clinical cases were given including animals’ names, breeds and clinical conditions. Is this a repeat of the original breach of confidentiality?

And what is the definition of ‘jigsaw identification’?

Categories: Journal news

Disciplinary case based on client consent

Am I the only one who was surprised and disappointed by the opening sentence of a news article in a recent issue (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 538)?

The article on a disciplinary case due to inappropriate social media posts, began ‘A former fashion model turned vet has been found to have committed serious professional misconduct’.

Of what relevance to the story, which was an important one for the profession, was the involved vet’s former occupation? I could find nothing in the article that could have indicated the need for that additional piece of ‘information’.

Maybe I needed to have checked out the relevant Instagram accounts to understand but the piece needs to stand alone.

I do hold the journal in high esteem, and the standard of reporting is usually very high, but would you have felt the need to publish a similar comment if the vet...

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Editors response

Thank you for your letter concerning our coverage of a recent disciplinary case about a vet posting images of animals on her social media account without owners’ permission (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 538).

You are correct, we would not normally refer to someone’s former job if it was not relevant to the story. However, in this case it was.

The vet who was disciplined as a result of her actions has attracted media attention as a result of her particular brand – that of being a former fashion model and a vet. The disciplinary case against her examined the use of social media and use of images.

You ask whether we would have used the description of ‘a former fashion model turned vet’ if the respondent had been male or if the previous occupation had been different, for example a police officer. The answer is yes,...

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Improving the professional development phase

Following publication of Ken Urquhart’s view on the professional development phase (PDP) (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 561), the RCVS thought it might be helpful to set out the current situation.

We remain keen to ensure that new graduates have the best possible experience and support in these key initial years as qualified veterinary surgeons. Previous research and evaluation of the PDP with stakeholders told us that it is valued, but graduates would like to see it changed significantly to include more structure, more support and more help to ease their transition into professional life. Consequently, we specifically framed the graduate outcomes consultation to gather information from the profession, to understand what structure and support would best fulfil these aims.

We had an overwhelming response to the consultation, with thousands of contributions representing all areas of the profession. This feedback is currently being analysed and will be...

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Better remuneration needed

There can be few vets who don’t agree with the sentiments expressed by Maureen Aitken (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 559) and by David Noakes and Chris Tufnell (VR, 11 May 2019, vol 184, pp 593-594) concerning the impact of James Herriot to inspire a generation of young vets and enhance public opinion about our profession.

However, the opening paragraph of Aitken’s letter was highly critical of Sue Patterson, newly elected president of the BSAVA, about comments she was reported to have made during a discussion about telemedicine at the recent BSAVA congress (VR, 27 April 2019, vol 184, p 514).

Another article in the same issue stated that BVA council should take a firmer stance on salary levels for vets (VR, 27 April 2019, vol 184, p 512).

Far too many vets earn too little income from their profession. However, the issue is what to do about...

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Representing the profession

I was disappointed, to put it mildly, to see the photograph of the BVA president (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 563) at Westminster Hall, in which he is shown tie-less.

This person is the representative of the BVA and at least one member is appalled. Quite disgraceful and, in addition, an insult to his hosts.

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Death notice

Jacob On 30 April 2019, Michael Bruce Jacob, BSc, MRCVS, of Haverfordwest, Dyfed. Mr Jacob qualified from Edinburgh in 1953.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l3048

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The wonderful people dressed in green

When I started working as a vet I was terrible at placing intravenous catheters. I’m pretty sure in that first fortnight I ruined every vein I touched; bruising both the animals I was attempting to treat and my own self confidence in the process. But one day, after blowing the veins of yet another vomiting dog, I was ushered into a side room by one of the veterinary nurses. She told me she had been watching me and had worked out where I was going wrong. She suggested we place the next catheter together and she would talk me through it. Later that day, under her direction, I placed the catheter first time into another patient. It was magic. I could finally do it.

At vet school I was told that if I was lucky in my first job the veterinary nurses would look after me. At the time...

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Fulfilment at work

‘[As a vet] I could finally help pets how I had always dreamed. However, something was lacking . . . What an unsettling thought for someone who had knit her entire life’s identity with the singular goal of being a veterinarian. I cannot convey how difficult this notion was to process and acknowledge to myself, even more so to others.’

This is a quote from American vet Maranda Elswick in an open letter to the veterinary community posted on her website the Meowing Vet. Does this ring true for you?

It’s common throughout our career to find that work may no longer have the same fulfilling effect. Our sense of purpose is subject to change and is critical to our sense of fulfilment, and so it is important to note that:

  • Purpose is built, not found,

  • It is not enough to have a sense of purpose once...

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    Who do you think you are?

    Ever found yourself convinced you’re a fraud, on the brink of being exposed as having fluked your way through your veterinary career? Imposter syndrome is far from a rare phenomenon but, as Penny Barker explains, there are ways to fight back.

    Categories: Journal news

    Coping with confidence

    Confidence can be a fickle friend, waxing and waning as your career changes and life evolves. Here Ebony Escalona describes how best to deal with the periods when it deserts you.

    Categories: Journal news

    Keith Martin Butt

    A kind, conscientious and compassionate vet with an innate charm and sense of humour. His clients benefited from his ability to make the darkest moments seem a bit brighter.

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    Volunteering showed me the value of charities to equine welfare

    Ben Sturgeon left private practice to join an equine charity that provides veterinary care for animals in developing countries, where a clinic session might involve seeing hundreds of animals.

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    VPHA Presents First Life Membership

    Jason Aldiss has been appointed the first life member of the Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA). After qualifying as a vet from Massey University, New Zealand, he spent two years in practice before moving to the UK where he was appointed managing director of the newly formed company Eville and Jones. He joined the VPHA and was president from 2007 to 2010 – getting involved in steering the association and promoting its activities.

    At its annual general meeting during its conference in March, the VPHA agreed that creating life memberships would be a fitting way of recognising the unwavering and selfless support of members, and that Aldiss should be the first recipient of this award. At the conference dinner, the current president Lewis Grant outlined Aldiss’ many achievements and sterling efforts before presenting him with life membership, which came as a complete surprise.


    Categories: Journal news

    Top poultry award for Nottingham professor

    Paul Barrow, professor of veterinary infectious diseases in the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, was awarded the prestigious Robert Fraser Gordon Medal for services to poultry science at a ceremony at the World Poultry Science Association’s spring meeting in Edinburgh on 10 April. Specialising in poultry and pig diseases, he is recognised internationally for his expertise in Salmonella in poultry and has considerable experience in Campylobacter and Mycobacterium. He is also a leading expert in the use of bacteriophages. As part of his award, he was invited to deliver the 2019 Gordon Memorial Lecture, which was entitled ‘Novel biological approaches to controlling bacterial infection’.

    Categories: Journal news

    Valuing women in the workforce

    Over recent weeks you may have seen stories in both the veterinary press and national newspapers on the gender pay gap.

    If you are looking for equality, the picture is not heartening. The most recent gender pay gap report from the World Economic Forum estimated it would take 202 years for equal pay to be achieved at the current rate of progress. And that the gap had actually widened in favour of men in nearly half of the companies in the UK.

    In the veterinary sector, the figures also do not look good, but it is difficult to tell if there is unequal pay in individual companies and organisations, as the figures demanded by the UK government do not compare pay for men and women doing equal work.

    This is certainly the argument put forward by many companies in the veterinary sector – lower paid jobs, such as...

    Categories: Journal news

    'Licensing for pets and children is not the same

    By Josh Loeb

    A Vet who campaigns to improve welfare for exotic animals has criticised a chief veterinary officer’s comments about how licensing prospective pet owners could be seen as similar to forcing people to be licensed to have children.

    The comments were made last month by Scottish chief vet Sheila Voas at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association congress (VR, 13 April 2019, vol 184, p 459).

    During a panel debate, Voas said she personally favoured a licensing system – but also expressed doubts about whether the idea would be politically saleable.

    ‘My personal view, and it is a personal view, is it would be very good to have some sort of licensing regime for anybody wanting to get an animal,’ Voas said. ‘As part of that, they would have to pass some sort of basic test . . . where they would have to demonstrate at...

    Categories: Journal news

    Companies agree to sustainable food policies

    By Josh Loeb

    Vets Now, Vets4Pets, Goddard Veterinary Group and the RCVS are each working on creating their own individual sustainable food procurement policies.

    The quartet’s pledge followed the BVA’s call – made in its recent policy paper on sustainable animal agriculture – for practices to develop their own ethically conscious policies for use when providing animal-derived food to hospitalised patients or to practice staff.

    Such a policy could also be employed when selecting venues for staff meetings or appointing caterers for a workplace event.

    The BVA is urging the veterinary profession to prioritise use of higher welfare and/or environmentally friendly products – for example, the association itself will only buy eggs, chicken and pork that is free range and British.

    In addition, only RSPCA-assured farmed fish or Marine Stewardship Council-assured wild fish may be used when catering for BVA events. The BVA policy on food procurement...

    Categories: Journal news

    Social media disciplinary is a 'wake-up call

    By Josh Loeb

    A Decision by an RCVS disciplinary committee that a vet was guilty of serious professional misconduct in posting pictures of clients’ pets on social media without permission should serve as a wake-up call for the profession.

    That is the view of Carol Gray, a doctoral researcher who specialises in informed consent and communication in veterinary settings.

    Gray said the result of the disciplinary hearing involving Natalia Strokowska – highlighted last week in Vet Record (VR, 4 May 2019, vol 184, p 538) – should prompt vets and practices to take greater care about what they post on social media.

    Particular care was needed, she said, when it came to posting pictures of ‘unusual’ breeds that might make third-party identification of owners easier.

    Her warning came as several vets privately admitted to Vet Record they would ‘be more careful’ in future about what they posted online. ‘I...

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