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Vet Futures: Is there enough guidance for the profession on ethnic and cultural diversity?

With the majority of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses coming from a white British background, this month’s Vet Futures blog asks if there is enough information, guidance and support with regards to ethnic and cultural diversity in the veterinary profession.

In the first meeting of the Vet Futures Group, a consultative group which includes representatives from a range of veterinary and veterinary nursing organisations, encouraging greater diversity was identified as one of the priorities that the profession should aim to meet by 2030. 

In this month’s blog the writer, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject, recounts his mainly positive experience of being one of the few vets from an ethnic minority background in a profession that is otherwise overwhelmingly white.

However, he also cites an occasion where he felt that a client was hostile to him on the basis of his ethnicity and he was not adequately supported by his practice. The position he found himself in damaged his confidence, affected him mentally, had a negative impact on his personal life and left him feeling isolated.

He writes: “I know we can’t change clients’ attitudes towards ethnicity and culture overnight but we must be united and an example of a forward-thinking profession to the public. For example, the NHS, dentists and lawyers all have committees, advice and guidance for colleagues in my position and I feel the veterinary profession should also go forward in this way.

“In my opinion there should be more education at undergraduate level which is supported with further guidance, training and support for qualified veterinary surgeons.”

He argues for ‘ethno-cultural empathy’ on the grounds that more tolerance and understanding between professional colleagues will help avoid bigotry and discrimination.

This month’s Vet Futures poll will therefore be asking visitors if they feel that veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and other members of the practice team are given adequate information, guidance and support regarding ethnic and cultural diversity.

Last month’s poll asked if vets working in non-clinical settings were considered ‘second-class’. Over half of the 151 respondents (57%) did not agree.

To read the blog, comment on the issues it raises and to take part in this month’s poll please visit www.vetfutures.org.uk/discuss

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