Graduates score highly in empathy, survey finds
A new survey suggests recent veterinary graduates score highly in empathy, communication and clinical skills, but fare less well when it comes to emotional resilience and financial and business acumen.
The online survey, run through the Veterinary Schools Council, was the first unified survey of graduates from veterinary schools in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. Veterinary employers were asked to rate their most recent graduate on a range of competencies.
Overall, graduates were rated highly in communications skills, collaboration and taking initiative in driving their own learning. Clinical skills generally scored well but surgery skills were noted as being not at the same level.
Empathy was the highest scoring category. In the additional comments, respondents consistently noted that graduates had excellent empathy with clients and animals, particularly with regard to euthanasia.
One comment said: ‘They show greater empathy towards patients and owners than I remember from my days as a student… and they will therefore be perhaps better role models in time than my generation of veterinarians.’
Financial and business management, however, received the lowest average score, with some employers noting a lack of understanding of clients’ financial constraints.
Another low-scoring area was emotional resilience. One respondent said of their graduate: ‘Sometimes allowed emotion to get in the way of the decision-making process. Occasionally showed a lack of resilience when discussing outcome of cases.’
Professor Ewan Cameron, chair of the Veterinary Schools Council, said: “An interesting point suggested by the results is the possibility that generations might differ from one another; this is of course nuanced and should not be over simplified.
“However, the data suggests that emotional resilience can be an issue for some graduates, while on empathy they are remarkably strong. It would not be unreasonable to suspect that there may be a connection between these characteristics.
“Therefore it is with a sense of balance that we must recognise where new generations can be supported while at the same time appreciating where they excel.”