VN Futures has joined forces with members of the Widening Participation Vet Schools Network, the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), and HE unboxed to support the University of Liverpool in launching a brand-new resource for secondary school-aged pupils to encourage young people to consider a career in the veterinary professions.

Vet Team in a Box’, which is sponsored by ManyPets pet insurance, is a complete secondary school lesson in a box. It is designed in-line with National Curriculum Key Stage 3 Science, where students will participate in ‘real-life’ veterinary scenarios, performing diagnostic tests similar to those used to diagnose real animals and interpreting scientific evidence.

The project aims to demystify the veterinary professions and some of the perceived barriers to joining it for both young people and their advisors. It covers a wealth of content, from science, critical thinking, communication, mathematics, and analytics to problem-solving skills and teamwork. The guided lesson sees vet Faheem Ilyas, vet nurse Craig Tessyman and University of Liverpool vet student Reanne McDonald talk through a fictional scenario to help a farmer protect her herd of cows by making diagnostic decisions and creating a treatment plan.

Aimed at pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9, schools will be able to “book the box” via project collaborators Loughborough University (producers of HE Unboxed) and have it delivered to them for free. The project aims to engage with future members of the professions from all backgrounds. The box is available to all schools, however schools which have a high number of pupils from diverse backgrounds will get booking priority and additional support.

Dr Linda Prescott-Clements, RCVS Director of Education, said: “Vet Team in a Box is an incredibly exciting educational initiative. This practical project aims to increase engagement directly with young people, within schools, using the national curriculum as a template.

“Just as importantly, this resource also offers support, information and guidance for the teachers advising these young people and draws attention to some of the historical assumptions and bias which may be dissuading them from considering joining the professions, and which may have an impact on applications from underrepresented groups.”

BVA President Malcolm Morley said: “This is a fantastic new resource which is not only educational but fun for pupils to take part in. I am extremely proud to be part of the veterinary profession, which is made up of incredible people from all walks of life. It is so important to demonstrate to young people that they can play an important role in delivering animal welfare, whatever their educational, financial or cultural background. This resource is sure to spark an interest in many young minds and help the vets and vet nurses of the future to take their first steps on this rewarding career path.’’

“We would encourage any vets or vet nurses who are in a position to advise young people about their career or who have links with schools to tell their teachers and guidance counsellors about this free resource so they can share it with their colleagues and pupils.”

Dr Hannah Hodgkiss-Geere, Vet Team in a Box project lead and creator and Director of Student Recruitment in the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool, said: “I am so excited to be able to bring Vet Team in a Box to fruition. This box provides an opportunity to engage with young people and their teachers to inspire them to join the profession, in particular from underrepresented groups.

“The degree of collaboration in this project speaks volumes about its importance in igniting interest in future vets and vet nurses at a younger age, and to give support to the people who have direct influence over this. We can only select for our future professionals and colleagues from those who apply for the courses, therefore starting support as early as possible is critical. This is the first step in the Vet Team in a Box project, and I am very proud of its production and how hard the whole team has worked on getting it to this stage.”

Vet nurse and BVNA Honorary Secretary Craig Tessyman, who appears in the Vet Team in a Box film, said: “I’m incredibly proud to be a male veterinary nurse and have been in the profession for a number of years. During this time, I have seen steps taken to improve diversity and inclusion within the profession, but there is still a lot of room for improvement, and the profession needs to reflect the diversity of today’s society. I am looking forward to seeing how future Vet Team in a Box ideas evolve to help inspire and encourage more young people into the veterinary profession.”

BVNA President Charlotte Pace said: “This is a great opportunity to engage students in understanding how veterinary medicine impacts the wider world, and learn the transferable skills that will help them throughout their life. The BVNA is proud that Craig has been so involved in such an excellent project.”

CEO of ManyPets UK Oke Eleazu said: “We work with vet teams up and down the country and are lucky to have so many vet nurses on our ManyPets team. We have seen first-hand how much the industry is in need of diverse young minds to join the next generation of vet team professionals. Together, we have worked hard to create an inspiring science module to get more kids excited and curious about life as a vet and vet nurse. We are so proud of this collaboration, and we can’t wait to hear the feedback from those who get the chance to experience Vet Team in a Box.”

The ‘Vet in a Box’ resource will be showcased at the London Vet Show on 17 and 18 November at ExCel London and then available to schools from late November.

To find out more about Vet Team in a Box or to book, visit Vet Team in a Box.

Vet in a box pack