RVC Senior Vice-Principal Becomes RCVS President

Stephen May

Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Senior Vice-Principal Stephen May has become President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the body which regulates the profession in the UK. 

The President’s role is for one year, after which Professor May will serve as Senior Vice-President for a year. He will continue to work at the RVC while leading the RCVS.

In his maiden speech Professor May signalled his intent to help foster a nurturing learning culture within the veterinary profession that allows vets and veterinary nurses to learn from their mistakes and pursue a range of careers and goals.

Professor May was invested as President at RCVS Day 2017 – the College’s Annual General Meeting and awards ceremony – which took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects on Friday July 7 2017.

Stephen has been an elected member of RCVS Council since 2012, having previously been an appointed member of Council representing the RVC between 2001 and 2009. In 2016 he was re-elected to Council to serve a further four-year term.

Addressing the need for a learning culture in his speech Stephen said: “Veterinary graduates have never had greater knowledge and technical skills than those graduating this year. But this can make their job so much harder when the certainty of scientific knowledge is confronted with the uncertainties of the sick animal, and the increasing number of possibilities for treatment have to be weighted alongside ethical and economic considerations.

“Of his age, but also prophetic of our age, the philosopher Bertrand Russell commented that ‘habits of thought cannot change as quickly as techniques with the result that as skill increases, wisdom fails’. So it is important that our young professionals are well-prepared in terms of professional, non-technical skills to cope with the sheer variety of challenges that they encounter, and we, as a profession, within our professional model, provide a nurturing learning culture rather than the blame and cover-up culture that the current emphasis on external regulation fosters, so pervasively and distressingly.”

Stephen added that his other priorities would be working with the British Veterinary Association and other stakeholders to uphold the College’s first Brexit principle that ‘vital veterinary work continues to get done’.