A year of “continuous improvement” was promised by Bradley Viner following his investiture as president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for 2015/16 at RCVS Day – the college’s annual meeting and awards day.
In taking on the role of president, Dr Viner highlighted three areas he considered crucial for his presidential year:
- the Vet Futures project and its final report (due in November)
- the new RCVS Fellowship
- the new Practice Standards Scheme, also due to launch in November
He said: “If I had to pick a theme for my year it would be ‘continual improvement’. It is a very easy term to bandy about, but much more difficult to actually implement efficiently. It involves accepting there are many different ways we can tackle the challenges we face, and that we rarely do things perfectly. It is only by recognising our imperfections that we can get better, and it takes courage to open oneself up to criticism.”
On receiving the chain of office from the outgoing president Stuart Reid, Dr Viner’s first official duty was to welcome the new junior vice-president Chris Tufnell, saying he was an ideal person to take on the role and praising his “calm but authoritative manner, and passion for educational matters from the perspective of a practising vet.”
Dr Viner praised Prof Reid as a “hard act to follow” – particularly in light of him running this year’s London Marathon. Prof Reid then took up the position of senior vice-president, replacing Colonel Neil Smith.
Dr Viner has been an elected member of RCVS council since 2005 and was treasurer from 2010 to 2014. During his time on council he has served on a number of committee including both Education and Standards as well as chairing the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice Subcommittee and the now obsolete Planning and Resources Committee. Following the annual meeting, Prof Reid conferred a range of awards including the Queen’s Medal and the VN Golden Jubilee Award.
Outgoing president, Prof Reid began his final address by listing the many UK cities, as well as international destinations, he had been to during the course of his presidential duties and the fact he had met, face-to-face, with at least 5% of the profession.
He spoke about the progress made on the three priority issues he had identified on becoming president:
- to bring the UK in line with international practice by allowing UK veterinary surgeons to use the courtesy title doctor, which was passed by council in March
- reaching out to overseas practising vets who retain the postnominal MRCVS
- the reform of the governance of the college, which is set to go to consultation this year.
He also cited a number of other ongoing initiatives such as the Vet Futures project, the Mind Matters mental health initiative and the relaunch of the Practice Standards Scheme.
“There is a lot done, and a lot still to be done. The challenges are out there and if we do not lead we will only have ourselves to blame. We need to find a voice, not where the profession requires representation, as that is the role of others, but where society and animals require informed comment on standards. That is absolutely our role and it is a responsibility we must not shirk,” he said.