Tag Archive for: homepage

Graphic of a a log fire on a green MMI background

MMI Campfire Chats Return for Fourth Series of Topical Discussions 

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative is inviting veterinary professionals to join their fourth series of Campfire Chats commencing this autumn.

The Campfire Chats, which were first set up in January 2021, provide veterinary professionals with the opportunity to come together to chat about important topics impacting their mental health and wellbeing.

Since their inception, the chats have continued to grow in popularity and have covered a wide range of topics, from stress and loneliness to creativity and climate change anxiety.

The upcoming sessions are as follows:

  • Tuesday 11 October 2022 7pm to 8pm: Social Media and Mental Health – this discussion will delve into the mental health benefits and challenges of social media, and how to manage these. Panel guests for this session include Lou Northway RVN (@louthevetnurse), Dr Bolu Eso MRCVS, and Dr Jeffrey Lambert (University of Bath).
  • Wednesday 9 November 7pm to 8pm: Letting Go of Perfect this chat will explore the topic of perfectionism – how to recognise it, how to learn navigate it, and the ways in which it can impact your mental wellbeing. Panellists include Dr Fabian Rivers MRCVS (Dready Vet), Dr Elisa Lewis (London South Bank University), and Professor Andrew Hill (York St John University).
  • Wednesday 30 November 7pm to 8pm: Maintaining Balance – this discussion will explore many faces of maintaining balance, the ways in which we can try to implement it into busy schedules, and why finding an individual sense of balance is so important. Panellists include Laura Kidd MRCVS (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies, Edinburgh), and Lucy Grieve MRCVS (British Equine Veterinary Association).

An additional campfire chat is also due to be run in conjunction with the RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group, discussing the recently published RCVS/VSC (Veterinary Schools Council) BAME Student Support Working Group report. Details for this are yet to be confirmed.

Angharad Belcher, Director of the Mind Matters Initiative, commented: “We are delighted to be bringing back our Campfire Chats for a fourth series. It’s hugely important that we are able to provide the professions with a space to talk openly and honestly about the key issues impacting their mental health and wellbeing in a secure, yet relaxed, environment. We all lead such hectic lives and taking the time to come together and either discuss, or simply listen to, each other’s experiences can be really beneficial.”

“The sessions are open to the whole veterinary team and are free to attend. We like to keep the sessions as relaxed as possible, so whilst the sessions aren’t recorded, we do provide a roundup of all the key information discussed after each session. These round ups can be accessed via the Campfire Chats resource page on the MMI website or will be sent directly to you after the session.”

All members of the veterinary profession can sign up to attend the Campfire Chats via the MMI Events page.

For further information about the sessions, contact Abi Hanson, Mind Matters Initiative Officer, on a.hanson@rcvs.org.uk.

Graphic illustration of workplace activity with VN Futures and MMI logos

MMI and VN Futures join forces on latest civility training collaboration

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has announced a new civility training collaboration with the RCVS VN Futures project to help tackle incivility in the workplace. The training will be delivered by VetLed.

Having worked with VetLed previously in the year to deliver six successful online civility training sessions, MMI and VN Futures are collaborating to extend the reach of these sessions by providing both online and in person training in a range of locations across the UK.

The continued delivery of Civility Training sessions comes as part of MMI’s ongoing commitment to promoting the importance of civility and psychological safety in the workplace. A joint survey into the mental health and wellbeing of student and newly qualified veterinary nurses, run by MMI and VN Futures back in August 2021, revealed that 96% of respondents believed that incivility and bullying were serious problems in the profession.

The survey was then proceeded by a Student Veterinary Nursing Discussion Forum, again run by MMI and VN Futures, to give student and newly qualified veterinary nurses, clinical coaches, and educators an opportunity to discuss the key challenges highlighted in the survey. Findings from the forum, published in the Student Veterinary Nursing Discussion Forum Report, show that ‘delegates felt that an overall improvement in workplace culture and professional respect was needed – including fostering better manners in the ways colleagues communicated to each other.’

Angharad Belcher, RCVS Director of the Advancement of the Professions and the Mind Matters Initiative, said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with VN Futures to continue the delivery of these hugely important civility training sessions. Workplace culture has an enormous impact on mental health and it is vital that all members of the practice team are respected, listened to, and feel able to speak out.

“Our previous civility training sessions proved to be hugely popular and received excellent feedback, so we’re really excited to be able to bring them to a wider audience. I would like to thank VetLed and VN Futures for their ongoing dedication and support.”

Jill Macdonald RVN, VN Futures Lead, said: “It’s really exciting to be working with MMI and VetLed on this latest series of Civility training. Having been involved with both the survey and the forum last year, we, like MMI, are fiercely committed to creating psychologically safe workplaces for all. Mental health and workplace culture are inextricably linked, so hopefully running these sessions throughout the UK will have a long lasting ripple effect in improving practice culture up and down the country.”

There will be a total of twelve in person and online sessions running between October 2022 and April 2023 which will be open to the entire veterinary team. The civility training sessions are being subsidised by MMI with in person training costing £50 per person per session, and online training costing £20 per person per session.

Sessions currently available to book are as follows:

Online – 9am – 1pm

In-person – 9am – 4pm

For more information and to book, please visit the MMI training page.

civil logo

MMI sponsors VetLed’s latest Interactive Veterinary Nurse Think Tank series

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is sponsoring the latest series of Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks, run by VetLed, a leading provider of ‘human factors’ skills training for veterinary professionals, supported by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA).

The Veterinary Nurse Think Tank series is running as part of an ongoing collaboration between MMI and VetLed, aiming to tackle incivility in the workplace and encourage working environments which make wellbeing a priority.

So far, the collaboration has included the running of six fully-funded civility training sessions, a full day of free psychological safety workshops as part of VetLed’s Safe to Speak Up campaign, and the first of four Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks.

VetLed first established the Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks in 2021, to provide a safe and dynamic space for veterinary nurses to explore veterinary ‘human factors’ – an established discipline which utilises scientific knowledge about the human body, mind and behaviour to better understand human fundamental capabilities and limitations. Human Factors such as stress, fatigue, and communication barriers can have a huge impact on working culture and, when misunderstood, can stunt positive progress.

According to a 2021 Mind Matters Initiative survey of student veterinary nurses, recently graduated veterinary nurses and clinical coaches, 96% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that bullying and incivility was a serious problem in the profession. A recent VetLed poll of veterinary teams also revealed similar findings, with 97% of those polled having been on the receiving end of incivility in practice.

Based on the findings of the surveys, it was decided that the Think Tank events should focus on four key areas. The first think tank was titled ‘Identity and values’, and the remaining sessions will be focussed on the following:

  • Everyday leadership – Thursday 21 July 2022
  • Innovation and problem solving – Thursday 20 October 2022
  • When things go wrong: The importance of a just culture – Thursday 19 January 2023

Mind Matters Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “It’s fantastic to be working with VetLed and the BVNA to run these think tanks. Maintaining a positive working culture is essential both for the wellbeing of the practice team, but also for the wellbeing of the animals in their care.”

“Veterinary nurses carry out vital work and are an essential part of the practice team. It’s therefore of utmost importance that they feel empowered and safe to have their voices heard, and supported to drive sustainable, positive change.”

Helen Silver-MacMahon, Research and Development Director at VetLed, said “VetLed is delighted to be collaborating with the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, supported by the BVNA, to ensure that every nurse has free access to CPD which supports their wellbeing and helps cultivate positive practice cultures.”

“The next Think Tank will focus on everyday leadership, where we will be exploring some of the potential challenges facing aspiring and current veterinary nurse leaders, and the ways in which these challenges can be approached. The session is interactive, so we actively encourage people to share their experiences, to allow us all to learn from and support each other.” The Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks are open to all veterinary nurses, including students. Each session lasts 90 minutes, commencing at 7.30pm. Places are available to book via the MMI Civility Hub.

Sarah Brown Grant graphic

MMI awards funding to research project using online compassionate imagery intervention to improve psychological wellbeing of veterinarians

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has awarded £20,000 to a research project investigating the effectiveness of online compassionate imagery intervention in improving the psychological wellbeing of veterinarians.

The funding comes from the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant, which was founded in 2019 in memory of RCVS Council member Sarah Brown, who passed away in 2017. The grant is awarded on a yearly basis, to fund research into the mental health and wellbeing of those working within the veterinary professions.

Past projects have funded vital research into a number of areas, including the mental health impacts of racism, moral injury, farm veterinarian mental health, and an investigation into workplace stressors for autistic veterinarians.

This year’s grant has been awarded to a research team at the University of Surrey, led by Dr Katherine Wakelin, Clinical Psychologist. In clinical practice, the high number of moral challenges faced by veterinary professionals is thought to contribute to poor mental health. In addition to this, due to the rigorous academic requirements needed to enter the profession, perfectionistic traits and self-criticism are common amongst veterinarians and are associated with a range of self-injurious behaviours and psychopathology. Furthermore, perfectionism is seen to enhance veterinarians’ vulnerability to moral distress in relation to moral challenges.

The study will be investigating the effectives of an online Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) intervention for veterinarian self-criticism and perfectionism. CFT has been developed to target individuals with high levels of self-criticism, who tend to benefit less from traditional cognitive therapies. The intervention was previously found to be acceptable, feasible and show preliminary indications of effectiveness in Wakelin’s (2021) feasibility study sampling 128 veterinarians. Therefore, the funding will be used to build on previous research and run a randomised control trial (RCT) study to establish the effectiveness of this type of intervention compared to a control.

Participants for the RCT will be recruited through The University of Surrey Veterinary Department and via social media. Any student, new graduate or qualified veterinarian will be able to take part, providing they haven’t already participated in the previous feasibility study and are not currently receiving a cognitive or CFT intervention.

On learning that her team had won the award, Dr Katherine Wakelin said “It’s fantastic news to have been awarded the grant. Having the opportunity to grow and build on my previous research is very exciting as my 2021 feasibility study showed very promising results! Now we have an opportunity to test the intervention further using more robust methodology and continue to investigate how the mental wellbeing of veterinarians can be supported.”

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Initiative Manager, said “We’re delighted to be awarding this year’s grant to the research team at The University of Surrey. We were impressed by their thorough application and the careful consideration that went into tailoring the research project to veterinary professionals. Perfectionism and self-critique are commonly present amongst veterinarians, and it is important to take these specificities into account when developing effective modes of support.

“We look forward to hearing the outcomes of the research and how we as a profession can use this knowledge to create more targeted mental health support for those working within the professions.”

Dr Katherine Wakelin will be awarded the grant at the RCVS Royal College Day on 8 July.