Be the change you want to see in the profession

The Big Shift

The veterinary industry is going through a big shift, and whenever change happens there’s always the messy bit in the middle where things seem to get worse before they get better. I call this the breakdown before the breakthrough.

Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, there is a breakdown of its old form to allow for a complete transformation in its shape and body structure to emerge as an unrecognisable creature, with great beauty.

The shift in the veterinary profession, moving from the old way to the new way, is felt by everyone. And everyone is responsible for doing what they need to do to honour themselves and shape life in a way that is meaningful for them. But the people who can have a significant impact during this time are veterinary leaders – the senior/head nurses and vets, Practice Managers, Clinical Directors, and practice owners.

The leaders of today are the creators of the future of the veterinary profession. They have the power to shape a reality where being a veterinary professional is a happy and fulfilling experience, and a sustainable career.

How do we Make the Change?

Veterinary leaders can take great inspiration from the quote attributed to the famous Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Be the change you want to see”.

To influence change in your external environment, you have to embody that change within yourself first. Why? Because your thoughts impact your feelings, your feelings impact your actions and behaviours, and how you behave directly impacts the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of others (positively and negatively).

  • If you wish for a veterinary profession that supports a great work life balance, first assess your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours when it comes to creating that balance for yourself. Do you create healthy boundaries in your life? More importantly, do you honour your own boundaries?
  • If you wish for a veterinary profession that ensures people feel valued and where people are treated fairly, it’s worth paying attention to your beliefs and thought patterns around your own self-worth and how you value yourself. Also consider how you treat people and how much respect you give to people in different roles – not just in the veterinary industry but across the board. For example, do you ever find yourself consciously or unconsciously making judgements of people in lower paid or lower skilled jobs, or valuing their contribution less for the same reasons? (Hopefully not, but we are all human, and nobody’s perfect!)
  • If you wish for a profession where people are paid a healthy wage which allows them to live to work, not work to live, it’s worth paying attention to your relationship with money. What are your beliefs about money, charging for your services, or paying other people for their services?

On the surface, these things may seem unrelated to what the profession needs, but the truth is it’s how people think, feel, and behave that is going to change the profession for the better, and as a veterinary leader, a large part of the responsibility lies with you.

Creating healthy boundaries and honouring them; working on your self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence; valuing the contribution of everyone no matter their place in the world; and having a healthy relationship with the giving and receiving of money, will inspire others to do the same.

There isn’t a magic bullet for the profession’s challenges; no knight in shining armour coming to save everyone and thank goodness because that’s not how to create deep and lasting change!

Change starts from within. Gently and gradually, the new way in the veterinary profession will emerge because the people created it.

I’m writing this article today with veterinary leaders in mind, but really this speaks to everyone in the profession. Every single person has the power to change the future.

If you’re ready to create deep and lasting change in your world, please reach out, I’d love to hear your story: