Please note this a draft lecture programme and is subject to change.
Stream lectures do not require pre-booking, however, Friday afternoon workshops must be booked in advance.
Stream lectures do not require pre-booking, however, Friday afternoon workshops must be booked in advance.
Incivility in the workplace- what would you do? Stand and fight, turn and run or ignore it? Turn and run or ignore it, every time!? Am I right? Feeling vulnerable, alone, useless, sad, tired, and like there’s no way out, It’s so much easier to turn and run or ignore incivility or poor culture in the workplace rather than address it, but maybe it’s time to change our stance, find the courage to speak up and stay and fight for once! By creating a culture where any member of the practice team, regardless of job title or pay grade, feels empowered to speak up when they have concerns and stand up to poor or bullying behaviours, knowing they will be heard, a happier, healthy and safer team will emerge and patient outcomes are guaranteed to improve.
Helen is an RVN who is currently studying for a Masters in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors at Edinburgh University. Through developing an understanding of the impact behaviour has on clinical outcomes and patient safety in a human health setting she is able to investigate how these can be applied in veterinary practice.
In this session, Helen will share case study examples and evidence to explore the role that every team member has in embedding a safe and just culture in vet practice, whether they are receptionist, nurse, new grad, practice owner or manager. She will look at how to set goals, make changes and measure the effect of those changes.
Do you offer flexible working to your team? If not, why not? Silvia Janska and Jessica May have had over 500 responses from employers and employees to their industry wide survey about flexible working. Their results show there is a strong demand for flexible working from both employers and employees. During their research they have met practices who have risen to the challenge and tested solutions to offer more flexibility for their staff. However, many employers are still reluctant to test new approaches, citing such things as complex rotas and a concern about fairness to all. Further, there still seems to be some misunderstanding about what flexible working means and the benefits it can bring when it works well. In this session, Silvia and Jessica will pose the question ‘Could flexible working work in my practice while sustaining a profitable business and keeping a unified team?’.
Those working in UK veterinary practice will be familiar with bereavement training and some practices may provide support to their teams for compassion fatigue. We are also aware of the many animal-assisted therapies such as PAT Dogs, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and of course, Guide Dogs for the Blind. But in addition, and arguably the fourth cog in the wheel, is the connection between violence against humans and animals. How do we recognise and respond to animal abuse and support pet parents who face domestic violence? What is, or should be, the role of veterinary practitioners in supporting the needs of pet owners, especially those experiencing challenges in their lives while still working within scope of practice? Angie Arora is Professor and Social Worker specialising in the human-animal bond, based at Seneca College in Toronto Canada and is on the inaugural Board of the International Association for Veterinary Social Work. She has worked in a large animal hospital as a veterinary social worker, providing bereavement training and counselling, support for compassion fatigue and served as a liaison between veterinary staff and pet owners at times of crisis. She describes the concept of veterinary social work with an introduction from Diane James, from Blue Cross, a trained Pet Bereavement Counsellor, who is looking to introduce this area into the work they do.
Practices are increasingly thinking about sustainability, but how do you reduce your digital carbon footprint while continuing to be as efficient as possible in data storage and use of technology? Although the energy needed for a single internet search or email is small, those scraps of energy, and the associated greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity, can add up. The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally… and we are talking pre Covid air travel, not 2020! Ian Bitterlin, a Former Visiting Professor at Leeds University, knows a thing or two about data and shares some tips for greening up your technology.
Good Leadership and Management starts and ends with good communication. Everyone in your team should feel as important as everyone else and you, as leader, should have a good grasp of the personalities in your team and how to get the best from them. Lisa Bainham is President of the Association of Dental Administrators and Managers and has over 23 years’ experience as a manager of a busy multi-site dental practice. She compares and contrasts the challenges faced by dental practices with vet practices and shares some of the solutions she has found to ensure her whole team work smarter not harder. Good businesses constantly evolve, adapting and changing to new challenges, and the teams that put communication first will have reaped the benefits in the past year. From how and where to talk to clients about cost, to embracing digital comms without losing the personal touch, to managing any ‘well poisoners’ in your team, this session will take a wide ranging look at the importance of ensuring every conversation with clients or team members is profitable!
Who is responsible for drawing up protocols & checklists and carrying out the audits, in your practice? These are vitally important tools for practice improvement and are a new requirement for the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme and the awards.
Putting these tools in place is one thing, but what is the point of them and how do you convince the whole team to use them?
Sometimes these QI tools are seen as purely clinical, even though their successful implementation is all about teamwork and communication. You might be surprised how often someone is tasked with, for instance, checking the temperature of a fridge with no idea why, or even what, the correct temperature is!
This session, led by Pam Mosedale explores the role of practice managers, nurses and the reception team in ensuring quality improvement is properly understood and embedded throughout the whole practice team.
Depending on who you speak to, the pandemic has been either good for reducing if not eliminating bad debt or has made things much worse. It may be you are taking more upfront payments, but consultations in the car park can mean fewer conversations about cost. For most it is probably a bit of both, but maybe it has created an opportunity to revisit this perennial headache. Good debt management is a mix of water tight systems, transparent pricing, an effective policy re insurance claims and excellent internal and external communication. Added to this is an understanding of your client base and a strong policy on when to write off bad debt.
Everyone talks about digital transformation, but what does it entail? How do you make it work for your organisation and crucially your clients? Amy Xu, a service designer at Blue Cross and former digital strategy consultant, explains why it is imperative to think about Digital holistically and beyond the realms that many would consider as part of a digital transformation programme, such as your ways of working. She will also share how Blue Cross is putting inclusive design at the heart of its digital projects and why the ‘perfect archetype client’ is elusive.
There are those practices that do well, then there are those that really fly. They are super profitable, their teams are happy and staff turnover is low. So what are they doing that makes them a cut above the rest? According to Mark Harwood, numbers do matter, and the successful practices know which KPIs to measure, how often, and what to do with the results. It is also about creating good habits (and minimising the bad!), attention to detail, a positive mindset, consistency, and teamwork. In this session, Mark will use a mix of different case study practices to drill down to the essentials, comparing and contrasting the supersonic practices. He will provide some top business tips from these practices together with a check list of ten take outs that you can start implementing in your practice now, to help you and your team take off and keep flying.
Whether you have to deliver a presentation, head up a staff meeting, or simply meet a new potential client, chances are that you will take the time to prepare what words you want to use. However, how many times do you take the time to consider the non verbal cues we are giving when we are delivering those well crafted words of wisdom?
Numerous studies have proven that upto 93% of our communication is nonverbal. But we rarely think about our body language and what impressions we are creating in the minds of those listening. They say that first impressions are important and that people are constantly judging us. The world of business is no different. As a matter of fact, this environment is an whole arena of unspoken language. Often, it’s what isn’t said that is heard the loudest. From pitches to board meetings, your body language illustrates your confidence, your commitment and your intentions more than you may realize.
The truth is that body language is either working with you or against you — there’s not a lot of room in between. From manspreading to hands in pockets, leaning in vs arms crossed, you really can influence how your message is received. And the two need to work together; if your gestures are not in alignment with your words, then you will lose trust.
Gary Lafferty is an author, who has taught and mentored tens of thousands of people across six continents in how to structure and monetize their message. Here he shares some tips on making the right impression without opening your mouth!
One thing that Covid taught us is that a veterinary practice website is about a lot more than just offering a shop window for prospective clients. As receptions came under pressure and practices fought to keep up with an un-predictable and rapidly changing situation, practice owners found that their website became a vital conduit to inform, direct and in many instances slow down client demand for services.
In this session, Andrew Rastall shares his experience of creating and managing vet websites, with case study examples of how the websites of small to medium sized practices can stand up to even the most organised opposition. He will show how to ensure your website is technically future-proofed as well as capable of dealing with the un-expected. He will take you through what he believes is the single most critical technology that will revolutionise how your practice’s website will perform in 2021 & beyond and describe the seven website building blocks that have remained consistent throughout the pandemic period.
Research by VMG has identified some key strengths and weaknesses that managers perceive in their skill sets. That is the ‘Now’. How do you correctly identify your own personal management and leadership weaknesses and strengths, and plan a path from ‘Now’ to ‘Wow’? In this session, Richard Casey will explore what good looks like in terms of key leadership skills and take you through a list of the areas that the evidence suggests managers want to strengthen. For each of these, which will include such things as giving and receiving feedback, developing teams and planning and organising, Richard will offer one top take home tip, plus signposting to where you might go next for your own personal development plan.
In 2019, VMG awarded the first of their annual grants to support research aimed at advancing the understanding of contemporary veterinary business, leadership and management.
Two of the first recipients of these awards will present their work in this session and compare and contrast any overlaps in their findings. Kerrie Hedley, Chief Operating Officer at XL Vets has investigated why women vets appear to be under-represented in leadership positions within the UK. Caroline Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies at the Open University followed up her earlier research into women in vet practice by looking at why so many qualified vets leave the profession and what, if anything, leaders can do to stem the flow and even encourage those who have left, back into practice.
Through ‘normal’ times, a well-managed vet practice should be a relatively stable and unchanging workplace. You may not know which clients you will see that day or what new clinical cases are going to be presented and as a manager, you may see different people issues day on day. However, the systems, the premises, your relationships with colleagues are hopefully stable, functional and productive. But want happens when nothing seems stable? what we learnt through the pandemic was how challenging rapid change can be. One thing about rapid uncontrollable change is that its happening and you are managing it!
This session will focus on helping us reflect on how we have managed change, what can we learn about us as leaders from the period of time we have been through and what can we do differently when faced with change in the future. Rebecca Tindall, Head of HR and Development at PDSA, describes how to create that culture and to be that leader, drawing on some of the experiences managers have faced since March 2020.
The traditional approach to vision and values can make great wallpaper for corporate headquarters or pithy sound bites on a website but in reality they often never actually influence behaviour or decision-making at the ground level. Whether you are part of a large group or a small independent practice, you need your team to understand and buy in to your vision, values and strategy. They should be alive, meaningful, and influential for your team. It is hard for them to do that if you haven’t clarified these for yourself and articulated them in a clear and inspiring way. And your vision and values is not a ‘one and done’ but should be constantly reviewed and refreshed, particularly after something as life changing as a pandemic. If well written and communicated they will then form the basis for all subsequent communication and the benchmarks for you to measure team behaviour and performance. In this session, Katherine Eitel-Belt will outline a new and “re-envisioned” approach to vision, values, and strategy, what to include and what to leave out and how to use them to rally and align your team to become accountable for the outcomes you need and want.
In an increasingly complex world with more expertise and more specialisation, it is less effective in any setting for one person to give orders and others to follow. This is the thinking behind ‘Shared Leadership’ which is a model increasingly promoted within the human healthcare setting. In many cases, no individual clinician is an expert in all aspects of the care needed for the patient and therefore cannot lead the others in the team through an entirely command and control model. Instead, individuals within the team take on leadership responsibilities associated with their own area of specialism or interest. Shared leadership offers the potential to empower, and motivate staff at all stages of their career, and allow those in the formal leadership role to delegate with confidence.
Helen Ballantyne obtained a degree in Pharmacology before becoming a veterinary nurse. After ten years as a RVN, she retrained as a human centred nurse, spending two years in cardiothoracic intensive care before moving into transplant nursing. She will share her thoughts on how the shared leadership model may be applied to veterinary practice, with particular emphasis on empowering nurses to achieve better outcomes for their patients, their clients, themselves and the whole practice team.
In an era of inclusive leadership with the emphasis on consensus and teamwork, it may sound old fashioned to say ‘my practice; my rules’, but these should not be incompatible. In this session, Katherine Eitel-Belt looks at the reasons someone might not be delivering the outcomes you want. Are they unaware of what they should be doing? Do they not have the skills, the emotional intelligence or the intellect required? Or are they choosing to be non-compliant? Working through these and really understanding each step will allow you to rationalise under-performance and tackle bad behaviour so that you can finally build that dream team: self-directed, innovative, compliant and aligned!
For the UK, purchase and consolidation of vet practices started around 20 years ago with a change in legislation allowing non vets to own practices. This has led to very large independently owned businesses and large partnerships and a handful of much larger ‘corporate’ vet groups. This is in sharp contrast to much of mainland Europe where a fragmented market of small privately owned vet practices is still the norm. But a number of the larger players who operate in the UK are now moving into Europe. What are the lessons to be learnt from the UK, probably the most mature veterinary market in the world right now. Can ‘corporatisation’ of the profession lead to a rise in standards? Is there a danger that profit will be come more important than values? What are the alternative ways to exit your practice, including selling to your team? What other models are available? Does maturity leave space for new start ups? David Giraldi has worked in practice in the UK and Italy and has spoken at vet congresses across the world. He explains why he made the decision to join Vet Partners in Italy and assesses the lessons that can be learnt from the UK experience. He is in conversation with Alan Robinson of Vet Dynamics, a business consultancy based in the UK that works largely with independent practice.
Whether you are managing a vet practice in North America, the Netherlands, Italy, China or UK, finding young committed skilled vets and vet nurses has been a key challenge over the past few years with little signs of things improving. Therefore understanding how to engage and retain those you have is more important than ever. Joop Loomans is a vet based in The Netherlands, and a partner in Oculus Insights, a consultancy providing business management and performance solutions to vet businesses across the world. He will share data collected by Oculus and examine the common challenges as well as offering some solutions to team engagement and retention.
Miguel Angel Diaz Sanchez (Pancho Vet) brings his 25 years experience of running a veterinary hospital in Spain to his coaching business, working with vets and vet practices across the world. He sees many cultural differences and of course the economic climate in which vets are operating varies from Latin America to Asia to Northern Europe, but one very familiar theme has emerged. Vets all over the world seem to be particularly poor when it comes to both giving and receiving feedback! In this session, Pancho explores some of the possible reasons for this and comes up with some solutions. Whether you are a manager, giving feedback to your vets, or a vet who struggles to accept feedback, Pancho’s humour, common sense, international perspective and sound advice make this a must see lecture.
Are you an inclusive leader? This is not just about how diverse your team is, although that is important, rather it is how you are perceived by the people you lead. You may have a multidisciplinary team that combines the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural backgrounds, younger and older workers, and, in a practice setting, vets, nurses, receptionists and managers, but, according to Harvard Business School, the team are more likely to report making high quality decisions and working collaboratively if they perceive their leaders to be inclusive. In this session, Femi Otitoju will explain what makes an inclusive leader, how you can become one, and why it matters to each and every team.
No one in vet practice will have been unchallenged during 2020/2021, but after the tumultuous and stressful first lockdown, when life started to return to a ‘new normal’, there has been a spike in profitability recorded by many vet businesses. There are several reasons for this; an uptick in pet ownership, clients at home spending more time with their pets, some staffing – or staff costs – reduced, adoption of new technology, and for many an opportunity (or even necessity) to be more choosy about their clients, finally ditching some of those bad debtors who take up time but don’t pay. But that has come at a cost. Your team may be exhausted and there is the challenge of bring teams back together. Practice managers, clinical directors and owners may also have found they have been short of ‘head space’ in the past year and as a result their long term to do lists have grown. Now could be the time to step back and assess what changes have been good and should be kept, what needs to go and how to use this massive disruption to ‘business as usual’ to bring about lasting business benefits.
As sustainability rises up the agenda in society and business, many practices want to take action to become more sustainable. Protecting the environment is the right thing to do, and there’s a huge range of business benefits as well. But with such a variety of issues to tackle, busy practices may wonder ‘where do I start?’ Hannah James is Sustainability Manager for Vet Partners, advising practices across the group on everything from how to recycle PPE, to the best thing to put in a bird feeder! Hannah will share her experience with examples from the practices she works with, giving advice on where to start, how to adapt your approach to your specific practice, and how to keep the momentum going once you’ve implemented the ‘quick wins’.
The veterinary workplace is a dynamically complex and challenging environment and therefore requires its people to operate under almost constant stretch. Stretch is required for continued professional development but, under certain conditions, can do the opposite and slow learning down, negatively impacting well-being. Coaching approaches help people remain open to learning under stretch, are solutions-focussed and are about empowering people to make decisions that better align personal and professional values and goals. For coaching approaches to work well, managers and leaders must first understand and attend to their own needs, creating a stable base from which they themselves can function well. Managers and leaders adopting coaching approaches create environments that enable their whole team to perform well, achieving their full potential and successfully balancing personal and professional wellbeing.
There has been much talk of clinical improvement, check lists, and human factors alongside team wellbeing and better communication. At the heart of all of this is ‘psychological safety’, creating a culture where people feel able to talk and believe they are listened to. In this session we bring together a clinical psychologist working with NHS frontline staff during the pandemic, a doctor who has worked with top sports people and teams, and a Director of a large independent vet practice to discuss the importance of psychological safety in optimising performance, enhancing learning, patient safety and personal development. Carolyne Crowe from VDS Training, a passionate advocate for psychological safety, will lead the discussion.
The last year will have been challenging for everyone, not least nurses. With nurse consults cancelled and nurses often needed in consult rooms to restrain patients, many felt they were ‘no longer nursing’. But as against that, there have been opportunities to step up, taking histories in car parks and smaller teams meaning less obvious demarcation between roles. In parallel, discussions continue about changes to what nurses are legally allowed to do, and making better use of what is already in Schedule 3, in a move to more ‘vet led teams’. As past President of BVNA, consultant and locum RVN, Wendy Nevins talks to a lot of nurses and sees a range of practices close up. Her mantra is ‘right person, right task, right time’ and she believes it is often up to the nurse to start the conversation about a more sensible and efficient division of labour and skills within practice.
If you were applying for a job, would you challenge a racist, ableist or homophobic comment during the interview? And what if you were part of the minority group in question? How do you protect your mental wellbeing? If a client makes a racist or homophobic comment intentionally or unintentionally, do you know how you would call it out? How about if it comes from a colleague in the practice coffee room? And if you did, would you be supported by your boss and colleagues? What constitutes an unacceptable comment? Would your practice be welcoming to anyone with a disability or chronic illness, physical or mental? If not, why not? Can minorities be ‘too sensitive’? What are the common themes that the majority don’t get? How do you gently make your point, without escalating the situation? How do you take feedback about your behaviour with grace? How do allies best show support for their peers in the face of an unpleasant incident. Maybe you are able bodied, cis gender, heterosexual and white, but worry about the right language to use or that you may inadvertently cause offence? What do you do when you do trip up?
These questions are why, as a profession, we need to talk about and explore the ‘Challenging Conversations’ that are faced in everyday practice. Charlotte McCarroll teaches pre-clinical medicine at Surrey Vet School and is an award winning advocate for diversity and inclusion within STEM. She is joined by Issa Robson, who is a clinical teaching fellow at Surrey and co-founder of BVEDS (British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society) and Claire Hodgson from BVCIS (British Veterinary Chronic Illness Society) and the ‘Spoonies’ community.
Femi Otitoju from Challenge Consultancy will chair the discussion around how to challenge ‘isms’ in colleagues, team members and clients with those who may be unaware their micro-aggressions are a problem. All staff need to recognise the impact of unconscious bias from yourself and others on the ways we work and to feel empowered to challenge overt prejudice. This discussion will give a taster, with the option for those who would like to engage more, to move to a different space for a workshop session.
Whether you are a nurse who has recently become a head nurse or maybe a practice manager, or a vet who has recently moved to a CD role, moving into a management role can be daunting, particularly if you are promoted within your practice and so find yourself managing colleagues. But if you make the transition smoothly, it can be very rewarding both to the practice and to you personally. There are some key things you can learn such as how to give positive feedback, effective delegation, ways to motivate others and the importance of consistency. Femi Otitoju has many years of experience training managers and leaders in a wide range of companies and sectors and she will share some of this here. Existing managers may also wish to tune in to fine tune their management techniques!
We all negotiate every day in some way or other; from getting kids to school (or more recently homeschooling!) to creating a new rota in the practice. Bob Magnus, founded and ran a large equine veterinary practice in Wisconsin, USA for 13 years before moving more and more into veterinary business management consulting which he has been doing now for over 15 years. He believes everyone in the practice from receptionist to GP vet to owner or senior manager can benefit from learning the art of negotiation. In this session he will concentrate on how to make every interaction a win win by stepping back, reassessing the situation and if necessary ‘expanding the pie’. Bob has coached vets all over the world and will touch on recognising and understanding cultural and personality differences within your team and among your clients and amending your negotiations accordingly.
Why do smallies get all the limelight? In this session, Justin Phillips applies his passion for marketing to equine practice and shares how he has helped one equine practice re-evaluate their marketing to achieve their business goals. An ambitious target at the best of times, but particularly poignant in the middle of a pandemic. Spoiler alert! There has never been a more vital time to invest in your practice and tell the story of the heroes behind the masks.
Justin will take you through the first year’s activity from agreeing the objectives, identifying all the client touch points and evaluating which activities will give the best return, relative to the investment of time and money. He’ll de-myth how you get Google working for you, use reminders to boost patient recall and supercharge your Health Plan to build reoccurring revenue. Equine vets are blessed with a highly engaged, deeply invested client base with enormous potential to create a powerful community of advocates; Justin shows how to make the most of this to build business.