Skip to content

Dr Zara Kennedy


Candidate 8 of 14

Proposers: Dr Mandisa Greene, Dr Laura Playforth

Contact details

M 07885 881 285
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Zara Kennedy, 2024 RCVS Council election candidateI became a vet in 2010, graduating from Liverpool and remaining in the city where I worked in small animal practice. I made the move to OOH practice and thrived in an environment that allowed me to support owners at a difficult time and stretch my comfort zone in ECC. I have continued my career in ECC and I am now also undertaking a masters in Patient Safety and Clinical Human Factors. I am so intrigued by the human impact on our everyday work and patient outcomes.

Mum to 3 boys, I’ve balanced out being outnumbered with our 3 dogs Lily, Bella and Evie. Before kids I loved to run, life happened and this took a back seat. Having taken up running again, I completed my first ultramarathon last year. It was brutal, exhilarating and yes I have signed up to my next one. But this one is double the distance! As a family we love a Park Run on a Saturday morning and cycling in the New Forest. The house is also overrun with blankets; I like to crochet and the possibilities are endless!

Candidate statement 

I am standing for RCVS council because I want to deliver pragmatic and positive change within the profession. In my everyday work I place a particular emphasis on human factors and its significance in how we deliver care to our patients. I am dedicated to integrating this understanding and approach into RCVS council. I am pragmatic and realistic, viewing decisions through the lens of the end-users. RCVS must better critically assess how changes practically affect veterinary teams, ensuring that policies not only meet standards but also genuinely serve those at the forefront of veterinary care. Something that I suggest could have been improved in the implementation of the Under Care changes.

As a working mum, I understand the challenges faced by those balancing the demands of veterinary practice and family. Having had to close the door on opportunities myself, I want to ensure viable progression routes exist. The RCVS has made good progress with the Clinical Career Pathway project announcement last year and I am committed to supporting and pushing this forward in a way that respects the diverse needs of our profession.

Greater focus is needed on effective communication with the profession and public from the RCVS, particularly through times of change and challenge. The Under Care changes offer opportunities to the profession to innovate and progress but this has been lost in its implementation and communication. A further example is the XL bully ban; highlighting where the RCVS could and should be doing more to inform the public and provide guidance for its members on how to approach these incredibly challenging times. I am saddened to see veterinary professionals left having to defend themselves and as a member of council would actively address this issue. The well-being of our profession is extremely important to me.

Candidate answers to questions from the profession

What is the gender balance in vet schools and how might this affect “manpower” planning within the profession?

I understand women now make up 80% of veterinary graduates. Thankfully gender does not determine who makes a great vet, however I recognise that we live in a society where women tend to be the ones that take time off to have children and more frequently request flexible working hours on their return compared with men. I also acknowledge that a more diverse workforce would serve us well in providing diversity of thought and approach to challenges.

I believe the focus very much needs to be on retaining vets within the profession and addressing the fact that we are not attracting a diverse population to our profession. The requirement for flexible working and alternative career structures is not limited to the female gender. People’s expectation of a work-life balance is changing across society and we must adapt the model we are using when planning. This is also an opportunity to reassess how we can better serve, not only the workforce, but employers and our clients, and I promote the need for the RCVS to create systems to support this evolution.

We must also be mindful that the vet is only one member of the veterinary team. We have opportunity, particularly with the under care changes, to adapt the way we approach our caseload as a veterinary team. Our fellow RVNs in the profession are frequently under utilised and are a key factor in workforce planning.

What can we do to encourage vets to utilise their veterinary nurses properly and therefore increase clinical output and job satisfaction?

I agree that greater utilisation of RVN skills would increase job satisfaction for everyone in the team, also aiding in retention. We first need to understand what prevents delegation and what the barriers are to this change. There’s a need for better understanding of what effective delegation looks like, not just the knowledge of what delegation and Schedule 3 procedures are. Vets need to have confidence that they have delegated the right task to the right person and this can be achieved in a culture that fosters collaborative behaviours and open communication. These skills and human factors training need to be better integrated into the veterinary curriculum and I encourage the RCVS to make this requirement mandatory.

I believe there is also a fear or hesitation associated with delegation due to a degree of control being lost over output and a worry about who would be liable should anything go wrong. I suggest these feelings stem from the general unease around RCVS complaint and disciplinary processes. It is important that we acknowledge that complications occur and mistakes happen, it’s how we learn from them that matters most. The RCVS needs to consistently demonstrate a safe reflective learning culture in order to further support progression in the profession.

From my own experience, utilising RVN skills is not just about clinical output, I would also encourage vets to view this from a client perspective and recognise that utilising a team skill approach to our patients results in an adaptable and exceptional service.