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RCVS leadership programme EFMD Awards finalist

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), NHS Leadership Academy and FutureLearn have been announced as finalists in the prestigious EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) Excellence in Practice Awards.

The collaboration between the three organisations was recognised in the Professional Development Awards category for their RCVS Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme.

The leadership programme is a free-to-access Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for veterinary professionals, hosted on the FutureLearn online social learning platform and developed in partnership with the NHS Leadership Academy.

The RCVS launched the programme as part of the Vet Futures project (an initiative run jointly with the British Veterinary Association) to encourage and support the development of everyday leadership skills for all members of the veterinary team, addressing the importance of leadership in the veterinary setting, along with the art of good leadership and decision-making.

Working in partnership with the NHS Leadership Academy has also cemented the importance of the One Health initiative by bringing veterinary and human health professionals together. The Academy works tirelessly to support leaders at every level of the NHS to improve patient care and the collaboration has enabled the RCVS to harness the key elements of the Academy’s approach. It has also provided an important test-bed for innovative learning techniques which are now being adopted by the Academy’s own programmes to support leadership development across NHS-funded care.

The programme also actively encourages participants from the human and animal health fields to discuss and reflect together on leadership issues as part of their final assessment. The creation of this forum should enhance shared appreciation and engender greater understanding of the healthcare challenges that span both settings.

“The EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards are prestigious awards recognising collaborative management and leadership programmes across the globe and we are honoured to be a finalist,” said Anthony Roberts, RCVS Director of Leadership and Innovation.

“The RCVS, NHS Leadership Academy and FutureLearn team have put a huge amount of work into developing the Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme to ensure that, whether you are a veterinary surgeon, veterinary nurse, practice manager or student, this programme will be relevant and useful for your professional career and development.”

The programme, initially piloted in summer 2018, grew from a need identified by the Vet Futures project which reported that “concerns have been articulated about the number and profile of vets and veterinary nurses stepping forward for leadership roles”.

The leadership programme has since aimed to change this and has already proved successful with well over 5,000 enrolments across the programme’s modules. Participants include veterinary surgeons and nurses drawn from over 130 countries, demonstrating its universal relevance.

FutureLearn’s Global Healthcare Lead, Helen Fuller, said: “We’re delighted that a programme that has seen such strong collaboration between all involved and received such positive learner feedback should be recognised by the EFMD Excellence in Practice Awards.”

“The success of the programme has evidenced the transformative power of online learning and is particular testament to FutureLearn’s social learning pedagogy. Over 14,000 comments have been posted by learners on the programme and it’s great that we can facilitate a global conversation on what is clearly such an important issue to the veterinary professions.”

Programme participant, Andrew Smerdon described the course as “an invaluable learning resource that I believe could enhance the careers of both experienced and newly-qualified vets, whether in practice or in other roles in wider society.”

“It has given me real insight into how to view myself and how others may view me as a leader. The examples demonstrated realistic challenges faced by vets at various stages of their careers and challenged the individual to reflect on, and thereby learn by, their own responses. I would definitely recommend it,” said Andrew.

The programme, which runs for 14 weeks, comprises two free-to-access online courses with an optional paid final assessment and is supported by the innovative audio drama, ‘The Glenvern Tapes: Vets in Practice’, which portrays the leadership challenges encountered in daily practice.

“This course really highlighted leadership qualities that are often taken for granted. The course demonstrates that you do not need a status position in order to demonstrate effective leadership even though status positions are often where we look for leadership,” said programme participant, Simon Patchett, adding: “I would recommend this course to both vets and nurses in clinical practice – it’s a real eye opener, and as a result of doing the course perhaps we can see a less age-restricted approach to leadership within the veterinary profession.”

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