A firsthand experience of the RCVS Edward Jenner Leadership Course

So you may have ruled out completing the RCVS Edward Jenner Leadership programme for Veterinary professionals because you don’t believe it is relevant to the role of a RVN or you’re not working in an official leadership or management role, but, I would like to recommend this course to all RVNs.

As a RVN myself, who has completed the course (whilst, at that time not in an official leadership position) and now as an online mentor for the programme, I have experienced how relevant it is for our day-to-day lives.

I haven’t met a RVN yet who hasn’t had to deal with any leadership problems or decisions. Maybe the leadership role we have isn’t apparent to the individual but it is there and we need to ensure we take on the responsibility and get better at the many decisions we face, which sometimes makes us feel uncomfortable. I predict that the following may resonate with you:

  • Have you ever wanted to bring about change and try a new approach to something but feel that raising the idea in staff meetings is difficult? Unsure how to get the team on board with your ideas?
  • Do you want to feel more confident when dealing with difficult clients?
  • Maybe you have observed or been involved in work colleague frictions and disputes, and you want the situation to be resolved but are unsure how to go about it.
  • How often is it down to the RVNs to support the SVNs, new grad vets or settle a new member into the team?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable raising concerns about a patient’s treatment or progression to some of your colleagues as you worry about their reaction?

Taking part in the course will help with the above and much more. I work within VN Education and found this course helped me to develop much needed skills to deal with the challenges I face, this included outside of the veterinary practice environment too. Whilst I did the programme as part of the pilot scheme, at the same time I was attending a local university and completing a different leadership and management course. Comparing the two, I found that the Edward Jenner course felt much more relevant as it was tuned into the complicated but amazing industry we all work in. I really enjoyed the different take on this CPD, particularly the audio drama and found the online community very supporting and interesting. I learnt so much from my online peers.

Now as an online mentor for the programme, I enjoy reading everyone’s comments and my learning has continued. My role is to encourage everyone to dig a little deeper and stay on track with leadership and management side of things, which can be difficult as sometimes we do want to talk about the patient and clinical decisions.

Here’s a summary of the types of issues the programme covers: Part 1 – Your leadership self is an online 4-week course and a great introduction to leadership, developing the skills you already possess but may be unaware of. You will cover:

  • Making choices and Reflection
  • Observation-Reaction-Judgement-Intervention Cycles
  • What is leadership
  • Leadership Vs Management
  • How to be true and authentic
  • Self-awareness
  • Johari window
  • Impacts we make
  • Learning skills, psychological levels, abilities and Kolb’s learning cycle
  • Workplace issues
  • Resilience
  • Good enough solutions

Part 2 of the course – Developing Leadership foundations, takes you to the next level and stretches your learning further. Also online, the 6-week course covers many important elements, such as:

  • Experiences, perspectives and emotions
  • Perceptions and labels
  • Bias and unconscious bias
  • Valuing differences and fostering inclusions
  • Interference and concern
  • Ladder of interference
  • Influencing change
  • Superheroes, leader and hosts
  • Leadership behaviours
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Adaptive leadership
  • Feedback models
  • Power and influence
  • Priorities
  • Future visions

Part 3 is the final course and forms the assessment portion. It involves online blogging/journals/diaries which encourages you to reflect on your own workplace issues, decisions and challenges that are then peer review by your online community.

On completion of the programme, you receive a certificate and badge! And I know, as an RVN we like to collect badges!

So, for me, almost 2 years on, I now have a leadership position at work, I am involved as an online mentor but more importantly I feel more relaxed, skilled and confident to be able to lead and tackle issues within the workplace. Where could your journey take you?

Claire Hobson with Rocky the cat