A Student Vet’s Fitness to Practise: A Summary

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A Student Vet’s Fitness to Practise: A Summary

The “Fitness to Practise - A Guide for UK Veterinary Schools and Veterinary Students” is a comprehensive resource produced for the benefit of veterinary schools and students. It helps ensure that students are ready to enter the profession upon qualification and explains what is expected of students in maintaining the reputation of the profession.

Purpose and Responsibility:

Veterinary schools have a central role to play in ensuring that veterinary students develop their skills in a supportive environment. The schools have a degree of discretion in how they apply the guidance, but must act fairly and proportionately in relation to any concerns raised by the student or others. They must consider fitness to practise concerns promptly and effectively within a transparent process.

Two-Part Structure:

Part One: Sets out guidance for veterinary schools on how they should recognize and address fitness to practise concerns.

Part Two: Explains the principles of fitness to practise for students to follow, and which veterinary schools should expect from students.

Recognizing Fitness to Practise Concerns:

Veterinary schools must be vigilant in identifying fitness to practise concerns among students. These concerns may include professional misconduct, ethical shortfall, or health-related challenges. A student vet cannot be admitted to the profession on a conditional basis, so concerns need to be sufficiently investigated in order to remove material risk to the animal. This is quite apart from the risk of harm to the reputation of the profession and the trust placed in the profession by the public.

Addressing Concerns:

When concerns arise, veterinary schools must take appropriate steps to address them. This may involve counselling, reasonable adjustments or remediation. In serious cases, the schools may take disciplinary action and if the process results in an adverse finding, this can have an impact when the student applies for admission at the end of the academic stage.

Student Responsibilities:

Part Two outlines the expectations for students.

  • Upholding professional standards.
  • Demonstrating ethical behaviour.
  • Maintaining physical and mental well-being.
  • Being accountable for their actions.

School Expectations:

Veterinary schools should clearly communicate their expectations regarding fitness to practise. For example, the process should separate the decisions makers from those conducting the investigation. The decisions need to be reasoned and clearly explained. Sanctions must be proportionate and the school must offer an appeal process. The schools will recognise that a fitness to practise investigation can be extremely stressful and independent support should be offered to students.

In summary, a fitness to practise investigation can take time and needs to be thorough because a student’s career may be at stake. The guide emphasizes the importance of maintaining high standards of professionalism, ethics, and well-being throughout a veterinary student’s education. Academic achievement and practical competence does not guarantee the award of the degree. The guide serves as a valuable resource for both schools and students, fostering a culture of excellence in veterinary practice.

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