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Meet the new BEVA President

During his presidency, Tim Mair plans to improve the uptake of evidence-based medicine and increase support for new vets

30 September 2019, at 12:00pm

At the 2019 BEVA Congress, equine vet Tim Mair will take over from Renate Weller as BEVA President. Veterinary Practice interviews Tim to learn more about his experience and uncover his plans for the presidential year.

After qualifying, Tim spent some time in mixed practice and completed a PhD at the University of Bristol. He stayed on at Bristol as a lecturer in equine medicine before joining Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic in Kent, where he has been practising for 25 years. Tim is the Equine Veterinary Director of CVS and has particular interests in soft tissue surgery, medicine and diagnostic imaging.

How have you been involved with BEVA throughout your career?

I’ve been on BEVA Council for the last six or seven years, and I have been chair of the education committee for several years. I’ve also been editor of one of BEVA’s journals – Equine Veterinary Education – for 20 years. I joined council because I hoped I could give something back to the profession, and I enjoy meeting other people within the equine veterinary community and working with them on projects.

What are you most looking forward to at this year's BEVA Congress?

Not speaking! I regularly go to BEVA Congress, and when I go, I often have meetings and other things to do, which means I can’t get to a lot of the sessions and talks that I’d love to go to. So, I’m looking forward to this year because I have no commitments for speaking – I can actually get to some of the sessions that I’d like to go to!

Will there be a theme for your presidential year?

I have several areas that I’m interested in and want to pursue as president. I have an interest in evidence-based veterinary medicine. I’m keen on trying to develop that within the equine community. I have concerns, like many people do, about recruitment and retention of vets in equine practice, of supporting younger vets in equine practice and supporting undergraduates who want to go into equine practice, because I think there’s a bit of a barrier. I’m also going to push the antimicrobial resistance and anthelmintic resistance issues; they’re really important and I think we can be doing more to try and reduce the impact of those.

Are you going to be bringing your education background into your role as president?

Over the coming years, we somehow need to try to support undergraduate vets who may be interested in equine practice, but feel a bit put off by the whole equine scene.

What are the biggest barriers that young equine vets have to face?

I’m not sure that we really know. There’s a lot of opinion out there as to why we have these problems, but actually, we don’t have very good, solid data to explain it. I’d like to get a handle on why we have a problem with recruitment and retention. I think equine practice has its own unique problems: vets are often off on their own for long parts of the day; they’re in the car on their own and they don’t have the support that a lot of small animal vets can get in practice. And that seems especially to be a problem for new graduates. The hours tend to be longer in equine practice than small animal practice – the pay may not be as good, and the out of hours is an issue for some people.

What would further support entail?

I think it’s just talking to them, encouraging them, having role models; showing them that it’s actually not as difficult as they think to get into equine practice. If practices actually had the support system there to look after new graduates, they could support them and allow them to develop. At the moment it’s quite difficult to do that, other than the internship programme, which several practices do. It’s difficult for a new graduate to get into equine practice and that’s something that we need to address.

What would you consider to be good antimicrobial stewardship?

BEVA has antimicrobial stewardship guidelines, which have been up for several years. But there are problems. I think that most equine practices do try to stick to those guidelines, but we find ourselves under financial pressure – or under pressure from owners – to use critically important antimicrobials in situations where there’s a financial implication. And that makes life very difficult for us – we feel that some vets are put in a situation where they feel they have to use antimicrobials that they probably shouldn’t be using.

What are the main aims for BEVA in 2020?

I think the main aim of BEVA is education and continuing professional development. And obviously, I have an interest in that since I’m an editor of one of the journals. I think I’ll change the structure of the CPD we provide. Previously, it’s been a bit haphazard; we need to try to plan it and do it better, making sure that it’s aimed at people who are at different levels in their careers. I think that the support of practitioners and clinicians is also equally important, and something that we should focus more on.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges for the equine profession in the UK in the coming year?

Brexit seems to be the overriding problem that’s facing us, but it all seems very uncertain at the present time. Recruitment and retention has got to be another issue that we have to somehow tackle.

What do you enjoy most about the equine veterinary profession?

Collaborating with others. I enjoy meeting different owners and developing relationships with them, and I enjoy the technical challenges of the job. It’s the community that’s the most satisfying thing. I also really enjoy watching young vets develop their careers.