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New Graduate Schemes – What are they all about?

It is that time of year again when excited final year students are looking at what opportunities are out there for them when they graduate. We hope that even a global pandemic cannot quell that feeling. It is also the time when practices are trying to ensure they get the best of the available crop (and before we get into that, the crop graduating now are just as worthy of our attention as any other). Some use New Graduate Schemes to attract new vets.

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There are many considerations for selecting you first job, and too many to cover in a single blog, so we are going to concentrate on just one: New Graduate Schemes (NGS). These come under a variety of names – internship, grad development schemes and many other versions, but essentially all mean the same thing – a structured development programme.

An NGS is designed to provide consistent training for graduates towards development of a number of clinical and non-clinical skills. They concentrate on several key areas:

  • Clinical mentorship
  • CPD provision
  • Structured development goals
  • Pastoral support.

These are generally achieved through some form of scale – either through being part of a corporate scheme, or a group of practices such as XL Vets. This allows CPD provision for example to be centralised, and in many cases internalised.

One of the key factors of the NGSs is support. In fact, IVC Evidensia highlight the importance of this: “Our graduate academy was designed to provide a supportive environment for graduates to take their first steps in practice. Our culture is focussed around supporting our staff and we want to provide a complete career path for Vets.”

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The development of NGSs has undoubtably been a positive for the profession – renewing focus on new graduate support across all practices. It does not mean that an NGS is the only or even the best option for every new graduate. Independent practices may not have the scale to provide the same structure around areas like internal CPD, but this does give them some flexibility to provide a bespoke structure for an individual, and utilise commercial CPD tailored to your needs.

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Similarly, one of the key factors in support is mentorship – both clinical and pastoral. This comes down to individual relationships, which can excel in the absence of a structure programme or fail within one. The structure provided within a NGS can limit the risk of failure, but we have seen, and indeed experienced, fantastic mentorship outwith this structure.

In essence, the role of the NGS is well summarised by Vets4Pets:

“A meaningful graduate programme is one that puts graduates at its centre, and for the sole focus to be on how they support graduates in giving them the best start possible. It’s important to recognise what it is that you want from your first job, and tailor your search around that.”

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