VCI to focus on vet well-being, role of nurse and key challenges – Muldoon

A number of “ambitious objectives” have been laid out in the Veterinary Council of Ireland’s (VCI’s) corporate strategy for 2019-2023, according to VCI registrar and CEO Niamh Muldoon.

Speaking to AgriLand at the launch of the strategy earlier this week, on Wednesday, December 11, Muldoon outlined some vital goals under the new plan.

“Supporting the health and well-being of registrants is a key focus and one of the six strategic objectives,” the CEO explained, adding that this doubles with its influence and policy objective to potentially work with partner organisations to addressing some of the issues around the health and well-being of the veterinary profession.

There were studies carrying out in 2008 referencing a much higher incident of suicide and depression amongst veterinary practitioners than other professions.

“From my point of view I would love to see some research carried out. At the moment the veterinary council has coordinated all of the supports available to its registrants, both veterinary nurses and practitioners.

“All of that information is now available on our website. It’s one point of contact where any individual in distress can go to and find the supports available.”

Continuing, Muldoon turned to another objective: The role of the veterinary nurse.

On this, she said: “It’s a relatively new profession, founded under the 2005 act; we have just surpassed 1,000 registrants on our nursing register.

There are many challenges to the profession and the council wants to put some focus on the benefit and value that the veterinary nurse offers to both the practice – but also in non-traditional roles.

The registrar noted that there is an increased focus within the council on both transparency and an enhanced governance structure, adding:

“Public confidence and confidence in the professions in our processes and structures are absolutely paramount.”

The CEO also pointed to the council’s efforts to improve its IT system, noting that registrants can now make online payments for registration fees to streamline the process.

On other challenges, she said: “We are very aware of a changing environment, both in the structure of ownership of practices and indeed in the challenges that face the veterinary professions every day.

In terms of the feedback in the draft strategy, there are a number of themes that came out loud and clear: the difficulty in terms of retention of staff; the difficulty in terms of provision of 24-hour service etc.

“Not all of these areas are within the area of our direct control and gift, but we will work through research recommendations or otherwise to try and influence policy to try and address some of these issues,” Muldoon concluded.