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Dr Mark Bowen


Candidate 3 of 14

Proposers: Dr Imogen Burrows, Lewis Smith

Contact details 

M 07752 458 127
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Mark Bowen, 2024 RCVS Council election candidate I have spent the majority of my career in veterinary education. I was a founding member of staff at Nottingham and taught a range of topics, some well outside my comfort zone. I have taught and mentored post-graduates from interns to residents, as well as being a regular instructor on clinical CPD programs. I left undergraduate training to focus on my role as Director of Education for the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation, where I work with colleges to enhance training and assessment of residents across a range of disciplines. This includes wellbeing, quality of education, working conditions and promoting novel pathways to specialisation. Aside from education, I am at heart a clinician and have worked in equine practice for most of my career. I am now a practice owner and have negotiated the challenges and rewards of building a successful business.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate, both in loving my career and in the support I have received over the years from some of the professions leading clinicians. I have always tried to follow their example in supporting others and the wider profession, through work in BEVA, The Horse Trust, the HBLB and Veterinary Products Committee of the VMD.

Candidate statement

I am standing for council to give back to the profession and stand up for the practitioner. The next year will see council take important far-reaching decisions. I am determined to ensure that the needs of the practitioner are fully represented. That means doing all that is possible to ensure that council remains an elected self-regulating body of veterinary surgeons. I believe that is the only way to ensure members of council can be held accountable for their actions. Decisions taken by council members impact on us all, and on businesses. I believe that independent regulatory impact assessments would ensure that any change to the code or its guidance would consider how those rules will impact those of us on the coal face. Imagine how this would have influenced the introduction of ‘under our care’ guidance.

This year, education committee will develop a new framework for specialist qualifications in the UK with the aim of expanding access to specialisation. Working for EBVS, I understand these structures and their complexities. I work with colleagues from countries where national specialisation has been developed on a theoretical taught model. These programs lack the practical, experiential and individually mentored training of residency training. If the college falls into the trap of others, it will simply create the same confusion with multiple sub-tiers of specialisation that help no one. It is clear that there are lack of training opportunities in the current model, but my role in EBVS is to find solutions in those existing structures. I can provide the experience and understanding that will enable the college to help create equivalence in a new national framework, or one aligned to EBVS procedures that retains the value of specialisation to the public.

I would encourage members to vote – it might be your last chance!

Candidate answers to questions from the professions

What do you believe is the single most important challenge for the profession in the next decade and what skills and experience will you contribute to Council to assist in resolving this problem?

The workforce crisis is the most pressing challenge for the RCVS, both the recruitment of those with aptitude and their retention within the profession. As the RCVS embarks on its plan of ending mutual recognition of EAEVE approval of veterinary schools, the UK is going to have to meet the demand currently being met from Europe. It is fanciful to assume that European veterinary schools will seek their own RCVS accreditation, the UK lacks its importance and influence it had pre-Brexit. This decision has already angered our colleagues, we must remember that prior to Brexit we did not even require graduates to have come from EAEVE approved schools. We are viewed as being increasingly inward looking.

The RCVS needs to consider how we adapt the veterinary curriculum to engage more school leavers into veterinary education by removing the barriers to engagement and funding. More undergraduates will place unsustainable pressure on EMS and clinical teaching especially outside of small animal practice. Solutions will require radical thinking from those, like myself, who have experience in veterinary curriculum design and development, without being swayed by the conflict of still working in academia. I would drive a consultation about how limited licensure to practice (eg companion animal) could bring about solutions to this challenge and increase the supply of graduates to meet the needs of the profession. Importantly I would want to see the new VSA build scope for limited licensure to prepare us for this future need.

With a new VSA very much needed how do the candidates propose to take this opportunity to improve the perception of the RCVS amongst members who, like myself, feel that the RCVS allows little public discussion and because of “Cabinet Collective Responsibility” its elected members are not even allowed to express opinions outside of closed meetings?

I do not agree with the replacement of elected council members with an appointed council. I believe that an accountable council is an elected council. I am frustrated the college are revisiting this topic only six years since approval of the legislative reform order (LRO) that created the current status ‘that bring the RCVS in-line with many other modern-day regulatory bodies’, following an extensive and expensive consultation. A process that reduced the number of appointed members, not increased them.

However, an elected council has been far from free of its own problems, from past IT projects to the implementation of ‘under care’ guidelines. A new VSA is an opportunity to improve the perception of the RCVS amongst its members by better regulating the regulator, irrespective of elections. This can be achieved by mandating accessible consultations followed by a separate pre-implementation Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). RIAs are an established systematic approach used by governments to critically assess the need, scope and potential impacts of proposed regulations, that avoid adverse impacts especially on minority stakeholders. They prevent a ‘regulate first, ask questions later’ culture. RIA would have prevented the ‘mission creep’ that looked to regulating remote prescribing by telemedicine providers to suddenly considering environmental concerns of parasiticides. It would certainly have avoided the situation where Facebook became a virtual revising chamber for council, requiring last minute changes to implementation. A new VSA is an opportunity to regain trust and a return to the vision of a first-rate regulator without endless new rules.