A national petition has been launched calling on the RCVS to provide adequate support for new graduates and reduce suicide rates. 

The Change.org petition is the brainchild of vet Matthew Erskine and urges the RCVS to make substantial and material changes to its new graduate support resources in a bid to drive down mental health suffering. The initiative received more than 500 signatures in its first week.

“It’s amazing how quickly it’s taken off, with many of the comments demonstrating just how strongly people feel about the subject,” Dr Erskine said.

Lack of support

The Change.org petition received more than 500 signatures in its first week.
The Change.org petition received more than 500 signatures in its first week.

Dr Erskine, who graduated in 2015, said it has long been known how difficult the transition from university to clinical practice is, yet a lack of mandatory support exists.

“It frustrates me we’ve not yet seen the introduction of minimum standards of support for new graduates throughout the profession,” he said.

“My aim [in creating the petition] was to try to move that forward and gain some momentum for change.”

Recommendations

While Dr Erskine recognises there have been more discussions around the topic of mental health and sharing knowledge via Mind Matters and Vet Futures, he feels it is not enough.

He welcomes the actions the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has already taken and looks forward to the progression of the campaign, which he hopes will address a number of the factors he identifies.

However, he feels there is a gap to be filled with relation to new graduate support he hopes can be tackled by a joint approach between the RCVS and other groups.

As such, he is making a range of recommendations to the RCVS to help improve the situation, which he lists on his petition, including having new graduate representatives who know about and/or have experienced the lack of support and its impact on mental health, incorporated into the RCVS.

  • More reaction to the petition’s launch can be found in the 25 July issue of Veterinary Times.
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