Empowering Graduate Academy Congress unites over 450 future vets in Birmingham

June 23, 2023

The annual IVC Evidensia Graduate Academy Congress took place in Birmingham across two days, welcoming over 450 graduates across 8 countries, with the intention of encouraging collaboration, discussion and progress for the next generation of veterinary graduates.

And despite being the fifth congress to take place, it was the first to be in-person and group-wide for IVC Evidensia.

Graduates in attendance had a packed schedule of panel discussions, workshops and breakout sessions to get involved in, alongside a full exhibition space and a Gala dinner to enjoy on the evening of the first day. In total this amounted to over 60 hours of CPD across the two-day congress.

After introductions in the morning by Gayle Hallowell, Director of Veterinary Professional Development, and Sophie Haskey, Group Head of Graduate Academies, attendees were treated to a talk by the first keynote speaker Nick Baylis.

And in the evening, graduates received a warm welcome from UK CEO Duncan Phillips, followed by the second keynotes speaker, John Amaechi.

This was all just two weeks after the group’s annual Leaders’ Forum that took place at the same location and welcomed over 1000 colleagues from across the UK.

‘It’s OK to make mistakes’
During the various talks at the congress this year, the overriding theme was that mistakes are to be expected as a graduate, but it’s how you deal with them personally and professionally that makes you a great vet.
Learning from mistakes is all part of the process of gaining experience as a vet professional, and having a strong supportive team is crucial.

By communicating effectively with your team and with clients and ensuring these channels are kept consistent and clear, graduates have a much better chance of creating successful outcomes in-practice, leading to a positive environment for themselves and others.

The two keynote speakers both gave talks that factored into this way of thinking, allowing graduates to take advice on board and use it in their future careers.

John Amaechi gave a talk on resilience and self-awareness, allowing graduates to prepare themselves for the rigorous demands sometimes imposed by the veterinary profession and to overcome adversity when, and if, it arises.

Psychologist and Psychotherapist Dr Nick Baylis gave a keynote speech about thriving in a high-pressure life, giving graduates the tools they need to balance a busy working life in practice. He touched on themes including emotional decompression, developing adult life skills, harnessing the imagination and channelling trauma.

Amanda Boag, Chief Medical Officer for IVC Evidensia, commented:

“To be able to see so many graduates at the start of their veterinary journey fills me with pride for the fantastic work being done by the Graduate Academy, as well as a firm sense of optimism that the future of patient and client care across our group is in good hands.

“It is our responsibility now to ensure all our Graduate Academy participants are supported to develop their careers over the coming years in whatever direction it takes them. I wish each and every graduate the very best of luck in their professional endeavours.”

Sophie Haskey, Group Head of Graduate Academies, added:

“Being at the congress in Birmingham was not only inspiring, in that you get to see so many enthusiastic future vets in one place, but also a testament to how committed we are in supporting graduate development. 

“I am thrilled that we are able provide so many opportunities to learn from industry experts and to understand the many different career paths available to them as vets. I hope that the graduates in attendance felt encouraged to go out and succeed in their chosen specialty, with the support of IVC Evidensia.” 

Practical workshops using advanced technology
Across the two days there were four workstreams including Small Animal (Canine and Feline), Farm and Equine, along with four sponsored workshops and a glittering graduate gala dinner for all important down time and socialising. 

This diverse mix of sessions coupled with the unique panel discussion format gave graduates an immersive experience with senior vets from across IVC Evidensia also sharing their career journeys of how they got to where they are now, to demonstrate the many paths open within the profession.

Zoetis sponsored a 90-minute Dermatology workshop where a team of four vets went through an entire workup of an itchy dog, utilising Imagyst slide scanners for graduates to try for themselves and get a better understanding of what sort of technology they might be able to use in the future.

The workshop was split into three parts; the first part was a practical approach to the workup, the second part was an interactive section showcasing the Imagyst and the AI solutions it provides when diagnosing the animal and the third part looked at relevant treatments such as Apoquel and Cytopoint.

Vet CT, on the other hand, sponsored the Diagnostic Imaging workshop and provided radiographs and monitors within hands on sessions for graduates to try out and gain experience in using within practice. Rowe Referrals delivered an Ophthalmology session with top of the range ophthalmoscopes and Idexx sponsored the Haematology session.

Positive remarks
The graduates who were lucky enough to attend the congress also had positive remarks to make as the two days came to a close. 

Lauren Aldridge from Wensum Valley Vets in Norfolk commented:

“I was really excited to come this year as a new graduate at our practice from last year came and said they learnt a lot about farm and equine, so I was keen to get the same experience for myself.”

“I really enjoyed the small independent roundtable farm discussions – experienced vets speaking but also a lot of graduates sharing their experiences too.”

“At the moment I’m hoping to get a good grounding in farm and equine and take my career from there.”
Tom from Holly House Vets in Leeds, added:

“I enjoyed the keynote speakers, especially Nick [Baylis] who provided a holistic overview of mental health resilience and how important it is to communicate with your team, as well as socialise with people outside of work, which all goes into improving your work/life balance.

“I couldn’t attend last year and missed out so really wanted to come this year and see some of the specialist talks. I managed to attend the Canine Oncology talk which was very informative.”

To find out more about the Graduate Academy, head over to the website here.