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    President of the British Veterinary Nursing Association Jo Oakden shares her vision of New Horizons

    Posted 15 March 2021

    A woman in a maroon top holds a dog and both look into the camera.

    President of the British Veterinary Nursing Association Jo Oakden was the latest speaker at Harper Adams University’s New Horizons lecture series.

    A sustainable profession – at all levels - was the focus of Jo Oakden, President of the British Veterinary Nursing Association, in her contribution to Harper Adams University’s New Horizons lecture series.

    The aim of the series is to inspire and challenge students and staff at Harper Adams to look beyond the current Covid-19 crisis - and to identify opportunities for the future.

    Jo took on the role of President of the BVNA in October of last year and on her accession, set sustainability as her core theme for her period of office.

    Jo also has a seat on the Greener Veterinary Practice working group, headed by Vet Sustain, and chairs the VN Futures Board.

    This board examines at changes set to emerge in vet nursing in the next five years and beyond – with some crucial changes likely in the coming half-decade.

    In her lecture, Sustainability in the Veterinary Nursing Profession, Jo described how she had looked at the four pillars of sustainability to consider environmental, social, human and economic factors in her work – and how, by breaking sustainability down into these components, she was working to forge change.

    This included both personal steps – such as boosting recycling as an individual – and institutional ones, securing environmental accreditation for the BVNA and placing sustainability issues at the heart of the Association’s annual congress.

    Jo raised some profession-based sustainability issues too, such as the use of parasiticide on pets which was making its way into waterways, or the use of gaseous anaesthesia.

    The importance of sustainability within the veterinary profession has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, when resources were prioritised for human welfare over animal welfare.

    This long-term approach was echoed by Susan Howarth, Senior Lecturer and Programme Manager for Harper Adams University’s Veterinary Nursing programmes. She described how student research in recent months has touched upon similar sustainability issues, with interactions between human and animal health and treatment – and their impact upon the wider environment - very much on students’ minds.

    Teaching Assistant Pippa Bond raised concerns about the impact on the environment and sustainability surrounding the use of PPE – something which both Jo, and Harper Adams academics, have taken steps to tackle, using re-usable items rather than disposable ones, where safe and practical.

    Finally, Jo’s lecture also touched upon ensuring that vet nursing was, in itself, a sustainable profession.

    She described BVNA’s involvement within the RCVS Legislation Working Party and the subsequent profession-wide consultation, looking at the current Veterinary Surgeons Act.

    Jo stressed the importance of engagement with this consultation - BVNA will be holding a series of three webinars around the different sections of the LWP consultation to help gain understanding of what is being proposed and to support those in completing the consultation, which is a once in a career opportunity to shape the future of the profession via legislation.

    She was also pleased to hear from Matt Jones – Head of the Harper Keele Vet School – that building inter-professionalism between vets and nurses has been made a strategic focus of the school.

    The New Horizons lecture series continues this term where we look forward to a contribution from Minette Batters, President of the NFU (23 March).

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