The new President of the RCVS), Dr Melissa Donald MRCVS, has promised to spend much of the year listening to veterinary professionals and communities across the UK, to better understand the issues affecting them.

Melissa, who was invested at the RCVS AGM last week, graduated from the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in 1987, starting her career as a food animal intern at Iowa State University in the United States before moving into mixed veterinary practice in Ayrshire in 1990.

Over the next 25 years, she and her husband Kenny developed Oaks Veterinary Centre into a small animal practice with a focus on dentistry.

Melissa was first elected to Council in 2016, was re-elected in 2020 and has served on a number of committees including the Education Committee and Finance & Resources Committee.

Since 2019, she has served as Chair of the Standards Committee, leading the development of proposed new guidance on under care and out-of-hours emergency care and pain relief.

Melissa has also been President of the British Veterinary Association’s Scottish branch and the Ayrshire Veterinary Association and, outside of work, enjoys running, and caring for her dogs, cats and sheep.

In her opening speech as RCVS President, Melissa outlined her sense of community with her fellow vets, as a relatively small but prominent profession that punches above its weight, and how she intended to strengthen this as President.

Melissa said: “When I looked this up in June, there were over 300,000 doctors registered with the General Medical Council.

"We, the veterinary profession, have around 30,000 registered with the RCVS to look after farmed, pet, lab animal, exotic, zoo and wildlife species.

"In other words, all animals EXCEPT the human, and we protect humans too, with public health work!

“Even excluding farmed fish, over 300 million animals are being cared for by 30,000 professional veterinary surgeons and their teams.

"That is the scale of our small but mighty community.

"Being part of a community doesn’t mean we all have to be clones of each other, but a group that can agree to disagree, and is there for each other in times of need.

“With this close proximity to each other, communication is key.

"My mother has offered me many wise words over the years, most frequently being ‘engage brain before opening mouth’ but just as important as speaking is listening and actually hearing what is being said.

"So, over this year I will try to get out and about as much as possible, focus on hearing what our community is saying and engage in many conversations as we work together."

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