Ask ten people to name a vet off the top of their heads and you’ll probably get one of the following:
- James Herriot
- Herschel from Walking Dead
Notice a trend here? Today’s entering veterinary classes are about 85% female, yet the public perception, both created and reinforced by the narratives out there, is that women are floating around but still ancillary to the older wise man who sagely nods at the dog, diagnoses him by looking at him, and sends them on their way.
I did a little informal survey of fictional veterinarians. Out of 11, 2 were female and one was a cartoon (thanks, Dr. Liz and Garfield!) It’s pretty much exactly opposite of reality. Reality show vet portrayals are about the same.
Why this is could be the subject of its own dissertation, but in the meantime I’m focused on how we can put a more accurate portrayal of today’s profession out into the public eye. Usually when this topic comes up everyone wants AVMA to come up with a PR campaign or for everyone to lobby Animal Planet or something, which…..well, good luck with that.
Why wait for a writer or producer to decide to change things up when we can do it ourselves? Why wait to be given a platform when a really great one already exists? Well hello there, internet.
It all starts with your superpower. Once you start with that, everything else falls into place.
It just so happens my own superpower is storytelling, which doesn’t seem like it has a lot to do with vet med on a daily basis, but when it comes to the public’s opinion of us, it’s everything. I’ve spent ten years sharing my own stories, and I can tell you firsthand how powerful they are when it comes to building trust with an audience. It’s an amazing tool.
I realized this year that I want to focus less on my own stories and more on yours. How can I help you tell them? How can we do that together to advance the profession?
An online presence, no matter if it’s big or small, will help you find the right job, find the right clients, and find your place in the world. Rather than try and convince the world how interesting we are, just put out what you do and those who find it interesting will come to you. It’s SO MUCH EASIER.
I’m not suggesting you go from 0-100 and start filming your own YouTube reality show (though you totally could!). That’s a ton of work and pretty unsustainable if you’re also trying to, you know, be a vet. I get that.
But you could absolutely get your own website, grab a FB and IG handle, and share some stories here and there that are authentic and reflect your reality. I know neurologists, dermatologists, public health vets, infectious disease experts, herd health vets, associates, industry experts, all kicking butts and taking names in the background. If Dr. Pimple Popper can make a (really good) living popping pimples online, imagine what Dr. Lancer, Abscess Vet could do. I’m just sayin’.
As a profession we are really underutilizing the online space, and it’s a shame, because you all have some incredible stories to tell. I want to help. I only have so many stories of my own.
2020 is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote and be heard. What better year for us to tell the world we’re kind of a big deal in the veterinary profession too? Let the world know the next James Herriot is likely…Jamie Herriot 😀 😀