The VetSet2Go Project is an international collaborative project to develop a framework for building employability in the veterinary profession. The project has involved a collaboration between veterinary educators from Australia, the UK and USA. The definition of employability in the project emphasises success and satisfaction in the workplace, with ‘the self’ as a major stakeholder, and bringing particular focus on resilience and wellbeing.
The international collaborators worked on 5 separate subprojects including employer, client and graduate expectations and veterinary resilience. The UK team, led by the vet school in Edinburgh, focussed on the client expectations subproject. The aim of the study was to investigate the current expectations and needs of veterinary clients across a range of species. Interviews and focus groups were undertaken with veterinary clients to identify the capabilities of veterinarians that result in the best client experience, generating a ‘Veterinary Capability Framework’. An online survey was then conducted to validate the importance of these capabilities, which was completed by a large sample of mostly UK and Australian clients. The data have allowed us to develop a ‘Client Hierarchy of Needs’ which emphasises the fundamental importance of commitment to animal welfare and veterinary capabilities to the client experience.
This work contributed to the development of an overall employability framework (above) which describes 18 key capabilities that are consistently important to employability in veterinary contexts. These aligned to broad, overlapping domains: Psychological Resources (for yourself), Effective Relationships (for others), Veterinary Capabilities (for the task), and Professional Commitment (for the mission), all activated by a central element of Self-Awareness (for the process). A number of aligned ‘resource cards’ for educators and assessment tools have been designed to map on to this framework, which are freely available through the project website. The outputs are not only planned to be embedded as tools within the core veterinary curriculum but are also being explored as part of a wider national conversation in the veterinary profession relating to the continuum of assessing students in the workplace, supporting transition to the profession and continuing professional development.
Although, by definition, this framework is embedded in the context of veterinary education, I would argue that, with the exception of the specific veterinary capabilities, it is entirely relevant for other disciplines. The notion of the ‘self’ at the centre is also consistent with the wider University conversations about employability and, indeed, the importance of self-reflection as discussed at our recent senate meeting in May.
We would be very interested to hear from colleagues in other disciplines whether this framework would have broader relevance for you!