Steph Walsh on joining the Young Vet Network and supporting recent graduates
What is the Young Vet Network?
The Young Vet Network (YVN) is a collection of regional groups for recent graduates (the first eight years after qualifying) with the purpose of helping to ease the transition from university to working life.
It can be a very challenging time leaving the social and supportive university environment to go it alone in the working world. The YVNs provide an opportunity for you to meet with other recent graduates in your local area at social and CPD events. I believe it is important to share your experiences with other recent graduates and realise that you are not alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed or lonely.
How I became involved in the YVN
I worked in the North East when I first qualified, for a large practice which offered me great support. My social life was also very good, which was invaluable at the time.
When I moved back home to the North West eight years later, I wanted to give something back to the profession. I saw an advert asking for volunteers for a North West YVN and jumped at the chance.
The BVA sent me a facilitator guide with information on how to set up the group, and gave support promoting events. I started a Facebook page, and managed to secure sponsorship from one of the veterinary drug companies.
"The YVN allows recent graduates to share their experiences, good and bad, to help reduce any feelings of isolation or inability"
As YVN rep I organised venues, speakers and food for free evening CPD events. As the North West is such a large region, including Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, it has recently been split into smaller groups to allow more YVN meetings to happen. This has allowed me to take a step back from the organisation of YVN events and focus on my role as Regional Rep for the BVA.
Being a BVA Regional Rep
The BVA Regional Rep role involves me presenting the views of BVA members in my region at the quarterly BVA council meetings.
As part of my Regional Rep role, I sometimes go to YVN meetings. I recently went to a group meeting in Lancashire entitled ‘Cakes and Mistakes’. It is often good to have an ‘oldie’ there to share their experiences and reassurances!
Before each BVA council meeting, I circulate the agenda and invite people to get in touch with any points they would like to put forward. The BVA represents the professions’ views to the government, champions the veterinary profession, and formulates evidence-based policy positions on key issues of concern to the profession. It is a real honour to be involved in these processes through my role as a Regional Rep. I did not realise the volume and depth of work continuously being done by and for the profession.
The importance of YVN
Unfortunately, we are all aware of the challenges faced by members of the veterinary profession, with frequent articles about mental health and suicide in the veterinary press. I think the YVN is a valuable tool in providing a safe community for recent graduate vets. The YVN allows recent graduates to share their experiences, good and bad, to help reduce any feelings of isolation or inability. It offers a support network of likeminded people who understand what each other are going through.
Joining your local YVN group will give you the opportunity to share your experiences and allow you to benefit from the knowledge and support of other young graduates in your area. There are times where you will need support and times where you can give support. This can be so rewarding and help boost your confidence as well. The YVN will help you to feel supported to grow and thrive in your career.