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A Division of the British Veterinary Association

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Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on Thursday 23rd January 2003 at the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London.

Present:  the President Prof. A. R. Michell and 20 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 18 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 14th November 2002 had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  none.

Any Other Business:  Council's recommendation that Mr. Brian D. Hoskin be admitted as a Fellow was unanimously accepted by the meeting, and Mr. Hoskin was welcomed.

The President welcomed the guest speakers, Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, junior vice-president of the AVTRW, and Mr. Tim Greet, junior vice-president of the BVA, both currently members of the RCVS Education Strategy Group.  They addressed their subject of "Veterinary Education" by means of a two-handed discussion, presenting views from both sides of the practitioner/academic divide, each in turn acting as "devil's advocate" for controversial points of view.

Issues covered included the changing male/female balance in the profession, European integration and EU monitoring of education, the expanding veterinary curriculum, professional development of new graduates, and the dichotomy between education and training.  Financing of veterinary education was also a hot topic, with the implications of the recent announcement on top-up fees appearing particularly ominous for those on a five-year course.

The RCVS proposals relating to "day one" and "year one" competence were discussed, emphasising that pre-graduation differentiation is not the same as specialisation, but merely involves additional extra experience in a certain discipline which does not preclude a graduate later taking a completely different professional direction.  The course should remain one of scientific education, not technical training, with wider use of electives and students moving between colleges for these.  A new graduate would be supervised in a registered practice until year one competence was achieved, then be awarded a certificate to practice.  Attention was also given to continuing professional development, life-long and self-directed learning, and the thorny issue of re-validation.  This was envisaged as a five-yearly event, with the aim being to confirm basic competence in a non-threatening atmosphere, not to make half the profession redundant!  The rôle of experienced practitioners as supervisors, mentors, mediators and validators was also discussed.

The speakers' final point was well-made - this is the natural evolution of a self-regulating profession, but if we as a profession do not address these issues, others will address them for us.

The meeting concluded with an interesting and informative discussion.

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