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Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on Thursday 15th May 2003 at the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London.

Present:  the President Prof. A. R. Michell and 21 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 21 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 20th March 2003 had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  none.

Any Other Business:  none.

The President then welcomed the guest speakers, Mr. Christopher Tuffnell, Mr. Huw Griffiths and Miss Barbara Edwards, who addressed the subject of "Our Profession: What needs to change?"

Mr. Griffiths noted that change affects younger members of the profession even more than older ones.  Clients appear satisfied and the media are fascinated, but are we sitting on a pedestal about to fall?  A few rotten apples cause problems for all, and the RCVS must protect the competent majority.  Continuing validation may bring rogues into line.  Flexibility is required to adapt to change - increasing numbers of females in the profession, more people pursuing further qualifications to increase "saleability", change from vocation to employment, coping with over £35,000 accumulated debt at graduation, more challenging clients, more litigation and so on.  He called for change to be embraced and seen as a challenge rather than a threat.

Miss Cooper gave a VN's perspective.  She spoke about the restructuring of the VN qualification, new areas such as equine work and pharmacy, and challenges such as verifiers, bureaucracy and consultations.  It is difficult to produce a climate where change is a way of life, but nurses must realise that they can learn and knowledge is power.  We must look now at changes which will be required even ten years in the future.

Mr. Tuffnell also spoke as a recent graduate and a new father, with some epigrammatic advice: to the Competition Commission, "Do not remove a fly from a friend's head with a hatchet"; regarding the new VSA, "Grasp opportunity by the forelock, it has a bald backside"; to the RCVS, "If you can't bite, don't show your teeth!"  He highlighted the large amount of merely technical work compared to the really stimulating aspects of the job, and suggested restructuring the course to a two-stage degree to address both problems with selection of very young applicants and pre-graduation differentiation and stratification of skills, with more paraprofessionals covering the more routine tasks.  Nowadays men need exactly the same as women - time to enjoy both work and family.  We need to put the spirit back into practice, and attract the people who want to be there.

The President thanked the Hon. Secretary for her efforts over the year and presented her with a gift.  He then introduced Mr. A. P. Muckle as the new President, and handed over the presidential chain of office.  Mr. Muckle was warmly welcomed by the meeting.

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