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Aiming to keep the organisation running effectively…

by
01 April 2015, at 1:00am

JOHN BONNER chats to the incoming president of the BSAVA about her plans and the challenges facing the association in continuing to provide high-quality CPD for both existing and potential members

CANDIDATES for high office are expected to be able to keep an eye on the horizon at the same time that they have both feet on the ground.

Incoming BSAVA president Tricia Colville will be demonstrating her solution to that challenge at the association’s congress in Birmingham by abseiling down the side of the ICC building to raise funds for its charitable wing, PetSavers.

After an unblemished record in avoiding extreme sports throughout her teens and twenties – when many of her contemporaries were going through “that reckless phase” – this will be the second time that Tricia has risked life and limb for a good cause.

A couple of years ago she jumped out of an aircraft to show her support for the Pet Blood Bank charity but after this second brush with her own mortality, Tricia plans to confine her thrill-seeking to a gentle jog up and down the hillsides near her Stirlingshire home.

That is just as well, as she will be kept busy over the next year leading the team of volunteers and full-time staff who run the biggest small animal veterinary congress in Europe and provide CPD in various formats for veterinary surgeons and VNs even further afield.

On paper, she looks to be better qualified than many of her predecessors for that role, having just completed an MBA from Strathclyde University, in which her thesis focused on how organisations in different fields can coax better performances from their staff.

Tricia’s management experience is not purely theoretical: she ran the Vets Now hospital in her native city of Glasgow for five years and then in July of last year she was appointed general manager for new business with the same company.

A 1993 graduate of the Glasgow school, Tricia had spent her first five years in private practice and at a PDSA clinic in Yorkshire before returning to Scotland to be nearer her own family and that of husband Rory, who works at the Bruceview practice in Stirling.

It was only after they went back to their homeland that Tricia became actively involved in the BSAVA; first as a committee member for the Scottish division, then chairing the PetSavers committee and later the membership development committee.

She became honorary secretary in 2011 and junior vice-president in 2013, starting the process which will lead to her inauguration as president at the annual meeting in Birmingham on 12th April.

Serving in those various roles, Tricia has learned to appreciate that the BSAVA is a body that exists both for – and because of – its members. She knows very well the time and effort devoted by its national network of volunteers into keeping the organisation running. So her focus during her presidential year will be on initiatives intended to help those volunteers use their time more effectively.

“Everyone is under tremendous pressure these days to balance the demands of work and family, so it is wonderful that they are able to give some of those precious hours to organising the CPD activities that are so important for the profession as a whole.

“I want to continue the work started under the current president, Katie McConnell, to ensure that our volunteers have everything they need to use that time well.”

Like Katie, Tricia plans to spend as much time as possible going out to BSAVA regional events, engaging with members of the local organising committees and finding out what they feel they need to do their job better.

At the same time, the association has set up a committee under past-president Dr Freda Scott-Park to look at the training and support that would encourage more volunteers to come forward at both regional and national level.

As a UK-wide organisation with relatively limited human and financial resources, Tricia and the BSAVA officers and permanent staff have become keen observers of the political tecnonics that have been drawing the four home countries in different directions.

“One of the big challenges that I know I will face during the year is in keeping pace with the legislation going through the various devolved administrations. It used to be that we would only need to respond to regulations and consultations coming from Westminster but now there are four different assemblies whose decisions will affect our work.”

Whatever the results of the 2015 general election and the national parliamentary elections next year, Tricia will be trying to ensure that the BSAVA remains a united community of practitioners across the UK.

“The granting of a new Royal Charter earlier this year was an important step not just for the RCVS but for all the other veterinary organisations that have supported the Royal College in its efforts to secure that document.

“The charter is something that matters not just for nurses but for the whole of the veterinary profession. It shows the great things that we can do when we work together.”

All BSAVA officers have to balance the amount of time they spend on dealing with external organisations with the need to look after the core business of providing consistent highquality CPD for both its existing and potential members.

“Our organisation is synonymous with CPD but we cannot rest on our laurels, we are always looking at what we do and considering how we could do it better. That means we will always be investigating new ways of providing that training.

“New technology may well change the way that CPD is delivered but not by very much. I think that ‘real meetings’ will always form the biggest part of our work.

“They are vital, for networking, for discussing those difficult cases and for socialising. They are what reminds us that we are all part of the veterinary family.”