Advice panel for women interested in the veterinary field

dvm360dvm360 March 2024
Volume 55
Issue 3
Pages: 34
Downtown Charlotte, NC

Fetch faculty and veterinary students sat down together to share their perspectives and what advice they would give women in this industry

To celebrate Women’s History Month, several women in the veterinary field sat down in a panel discussion at our Fetch dvm360® conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. They discussed what it means to be a woman in the veterinary medicine profession and shared their personal experiences in this career. Check out each veterinary professional’s answer to this question on offering advice for women pursuing this field.

What advice do you have for other women interested in pursuing the veterinary profession?

Betsy Charles, DVM, MA: What advice do I have for women coming into the profession? I love veterinary medicine. I love everything about it, and I think that the sky's the limit. Chase what you love. I love diagnostics, [and] I don't like patient care…there's a million things that you can do in veterinary medicine, and I think that there's a place for everybody if you are passionate about it. Figure out who you are, what you bring to the table, and then bring that to veterinary medicine. Because we need you.

Mia Cary, DVM: I would say, be a mentor and get a mentor, and collaborate diversely. Don't just pick mentors that look like you, think like you, act like you. Reach out [and] expand your horizons.

Lisa Radosta, DVM, DACVB: Advice for women, I would say have boundaries. While they shouldn't be porous, they shouldn't be made of concrete either. Show flexibility and choose your work environment wisely. Be willing to pivot and experience something a little different.

Neda Fadaee, DVM Candidate: I think as a woman, in general, we have been conditioned to always be really nice and polite, and not try to offend anyone. And so I think, because we try to be so nice, we inevitably can let people walk all over us, and we lose our power.

My advice is to find someone where you know that if they were in your shoes, their conversation would have gone the way they wanted to. You should ask them like, “What could I have said? What could I have done?” And then learn from that; how to stand up for yourself and gain that power back. Talk to people and learn how to stand up for yourself because people will take advantage of you.

Melissa Pineda-Perez, DVM Candidate: For me, it's more like listening to yourself. Very simple. Coming from more of a diverse [background], my parents are immigrants who didn't want me to follow this career. And I had to listen to myself the whole way through the first year [of veterinary school]. Listen to yourself, where even though the people around you are telling you, “Don’t do this or don't go here or don't say that.” Do what you think is your passion, do what you want to do, and continue to do that.

Natalie Marks, DVM, CVJ: My advice would be that it's okay to change your mind. A lot of people go into clinical medicine, and they think “I started as a small animal practitioner and that's what I got to do the rest of my life” and they feel locked in a box and get burnt out or have compassion fatigue or realize that it's not what they love anymore. And then they have guilt or other emotions that lead them down a very negative path.

I have changed my mind many times…if you have a passion, follow it and it's okay if you change your mind. If you start down one road and you don't like it, it’s fine. Do something else. I've had many different chapters in my career, and I own every one of them. I've learned from them and grown from them and developed networks that I never would have even imagined would have existed if I had not said, “You know what, clinical practice is not for me right now.”

Joya Griffin, DVM, DACVD: For me, I just love mentoring kids, like the smaller the better. I want to be a vet since I was like, 7 [years old]. So we've opened our clinic up, we let the kids come in, it’s so simple. And I think when those little girls see that, and they're like, “Oh, look, she's doing that and she also has kids and she also may write or be on TV… this is super cool. I can do it too.”

Sometimes if I don't have childcare, we just provide space for [the kids]. And a lot of us are moms…sometimes it just happens. I don't always have my nanny’s help, so my kids are in the clinic.

Donita McCants, DVM: I would say never mute yourself. Always stay true and strong within yourself. Sometimes we try to just go with things and try to be too nice. But, I had to learn through the years that you have to be strong in yourself. I am a business owner. I am a woman. And those are things that have been hard for me to just be true to who I am. And I have sometimes I'll say, “Donita, like no, you're Dr Donita.” Be true to who you are.

Coretta Patterson, DVM DACVIM (SAIM): So many great things have been said and I can’t over emphasize an openness and a willingness to explore different areas of the profession at different times. I've worked long enough in the industry to know that I can do things that I want to do. I think having an open mind and working hard early on so you make connections and you have a good reputation [is important]. I think a really appropriate place to end [this discussion], both as a woman and a woman of color, but also an ally to people that don't look like me, is that it's very important, now more than ever across this country and across this profession, that we are allies to people that don't look like us. And that means if you see something, say something. I’m a straight cisgender woman, but I won't let someone who is not in the same boat that I am, be insulted or harassed at work. I’m there and I'm hearing it and I’m not [letting it happen anymore]. We just have got to stand up and help each other because it matters now more than ever.

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