Guest blog by Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS, Community Lead at VetLed and Cat Auden BVM&S, MRCVS, Managing Director at VetLed

The popular VetLed Veterinary Human Factors Conference returns in February 2024, and this time the focus is on Culture, Performance, and Wellbeing.

Cat Auden, Managing Director, VetLed

Why would anyone bother doing two days non-clinical CPD? Isn’t that a bit alternative?

Wellbeing just seems like such a passe phrase now. We all feel tired, a bit burnt out, and what’s one more person advocating pizza on a Friday when we’re just trying to survive from one consult to the next…

What even is Culture? Surely, it’s just what you get at any one practice. Why do CPD on that? How is it going to affect my clinical care anyway?

And Performance. Well, we are all clever people, aren’t we? Aren’t we already high-performing A* individuals?

Why Culture, Performance, and Wellbeing?

It turns out there’s a heck of a lot more science and evidence base in each one of these areas than you might have previously imagined… and it happens that good patient care and patient outcomes (and we aren’t talking that ol’ chestnut “Gold Standard”, we mean any contextualised care), are highly, highly dependent on the culture of the veterinary team, the performance of that team, and whether that team is actually well themselves.

It’s a bit of a realisation, isn’t it, when as a profession we are all somewhat preconditioned that more knowledge and skill is the sole key to high standards of care.

The field of Human Factors, when applied in the veterinary profession, allows us to fill or bridge that metaphorical gap between having plenty of clinical knowledge and skills… and our performance in reality. When we stop and think about it, the internal and external factors that affect our day-to-day work are so varied, so it can be tricky to visualise the whole picture. This conference joins those very dots for you!

We know that developing our non-technical skills is becoming more of a priority across the veterinary profession. In fact, through her work as a coach, VetLed’s Dr Jenny Guyat, has noticed a prevailing theme among those seeking her help:

“Since joining VetLed and bringing together my two worlds of career alignment coaching and Human Factors, I’ve realised that many of the challenges my coachees face in the veterinary profession have strong links to Human Factors topics. Whether it’s anxiety about clinical decision-making and confidence, linking to Just Culture, or work-life balance challenges linking to wellbeing, or job satisfaction linked to how the practice team work together dynamically, it really highlights the need for increasing Human Factors awareness and training through every level of the profession.”

Despite this, there’s still a lack of non-clinical topics on the agenda when it comes to veterinary conferences.

Learning from other professions

We’re not alone in associating technical skills and knowledge with high standards of work. But we are a little behind the curve compared to other safety critical professions. Just think of human healthcare, paramedics, pilots, nuclear workers, etc. We want all those guys to be performing at their best, and each of those professions has an essential focus on Culture, Performance and Team Wellbeing.

You only have to Google “Clinical Human Factors” to realise how central it is in the care we receive in the human healthcare system. And now it is increasingly recognised as central to safe, good veterinary care…

It only makes sense that we veterinary teams also need to focus in on these areas if we are serious about delivering great patient care in everyday practice.

A sneak-peak behind the scenes

The VetLed conference provides the ideal opportunity for curious veterinary teams to dip their toe into this established field of knowledge for our own profession.

The live and interactive virtual sessions will showcase how culture performance and wellbeing are not intangible, impossible to change areas… but, in fact, provide evidence based, practically applicable tools which make your practice the one every person wants to work (and stay) at.

When planning the 2024 conference, we were keen to build on the success of last year’s event but add fresh focuses so that there’s truly something for everyone, no matter how new they are to veterinary Human Factors. Dynamic discussion, thought sharing, and networking are part of the magic of this event.

The conference makes veterinary Human Factors more accessible and less daunting, so that delegates aren’t put off by technical terminology and don’t feel apprehensive about joining the conversation as a ‘beginner.’ After all, new minds mean new ideas, which are essential for change.

What can you expect from the VetLed Conference programme?

We’ve gathered engaging and inspiring speakers from the veterinary profession and beyond to lead conversations and share wisdom surrounding the field of Human Factors. Our conference schedule will address critical topics like ‘How can practice culture be built?’, ‘The messy reality of compassion, empathy and fatigue’, and ‘How does situation awareness save lives?’, and the VetLed team will be joined by expert panels to discuss Human Factors in leadership, research, and clinical practice. We’ll hear from veterinary thought leaders Laura Woodward, Rosie Allister, Petra Agthe, Amy Martin and more, covering concepts as diverse (but familiar?) as shame, vulnerability, courage, and positive psychology.

At VetLed, we began the journey to raise awareness of Veterinary Human Factors with the aim of ‘Leading Change,’ and in doing so, we have established a growing community of passionate veterinary professionals, returning to the conference year on year, united in their desire to create positive change in our profession.

Inspired by the increasing momentum and widespread support, the 2024 conference will ignite the change!

New Year, New Focus?

Now the chaos of Christmas and New Year is over, you might be left feeling a bit drained with the dark days of January looming ahead. Our three conference streams will have buckets of fantastic sessions to help you tangibly and practically focus on Culture, Performance and Wellbeing for yourself, your team, and your organisation.

How to register

Don’t miss out! The Veterinary Human Factors Conference takes place virtually on the 22nd and 23rd of February 2024. Once you’ve registered and bought a ticket, you can attend the live virtual sessions on the conference days and continue to access all content for six months after the conference closes its virtual doors!

VetLed have kindly offered a 20% discount on conference tickets to Veterinary Woman readers with the code: VW1756

You can find out more and buy your ticket at the VetLed website:

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Effecting Culture Change in Veterinary Practice:  Where to Start?

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