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Resources and connections supporting equity

dvm360 Pride Month Panel Discussion

What resources are available to support the LGBTQ+ community?

Hill's Pet Nutrition Pride Month

Content sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: So Omar, I know that there's some resources out there. So talk to me about from the veterinary students, that tech students, and then also preventative professionals, what resources are out there?

Omar Farías, VMD: Great, thank you. So, a couple of things. So, obviously, you know, I'm a board member with Pride VMC. So we also have a chapter for students specifically, we have the student Pride VMC arm. And in our website, there's actually tons of lists of resources that people can find. And then apparently, excuse me, apart from our website, I would say, there's also programs like, you know, like the AVMA Brave Space certification that, you know, hospitals can actually can go through. There's like, modules that you can also do. Journey for Reams is something AVMA recently has put on. And if you're familiar with Blend, Blend Vet, you know, doesn't love Nicole Bruno? Yeah. So there's tons of resources out there that people can find, to help support the LGBTQ community?

Erik Zager, DVM, DACVECC: I'll throw in a quick shout out to something that's really close to my heart. It's a group called Critically Diverse. It's a group of really emergency and critical care, doctors, nurses that it's on Instagram and Facebook. And it's just nice to see that kind of representation talks about all types of diversity. But there's a lot of LGBTQ+ stuff there. It's just nice to see people in your community doing great things in veterinary medicine. So a big shout out to Critically Diverse.

Jennifer Evans: I'll take it to a more basic for if you're just getting started. PrideVMC is incredible with their toolkits. But even getting on LinkedIn and setting up a profile there and getting mixed in with the veterinary space through LinkedIn, you see so many people doing things within our community that is helping support not only Vet Med, but expanding the diversity, and really working towards a better tomorrow. And something as simple as that, just to be aware of it and see what's happening can be a game changer on what you're exposed to.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Absolutely. Michael, how's it been for you, too? What resources? Are you using anything from your fellow veterinarians?

Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM: I want to say something about, I think a person like Michael is probably a resource in himself. If you know yourself, really, I think that we all underestimate the power of having an ally, who's gay, who's maybe gone through the gauntlet, and what their experience can tell us and teach us. And you know, I've been fortunate in my life to have not, a lot a handful at best, but man, they were really powerful. You know, I remember when I was a kid, and I was so conflicted. I was very serious Catholic, and I was very conflicted about being gay. And I remember going to the confessional and I was working up the energy to confess that I was gay. And I mean, it's during Lent, and I'm really sweating it out and will I or will I not have the power to confess that I'm gay? And I get in that confessional and "Dear Father, forgive me for I have sinned" and you know, I start rattling off a couple of low level sins before I lay the big one on him. And I don't know whether or not I'm gonna be able to do it. And I go, "Father, forgive me, but I'm like, 14, Father, forgive me. I think I'm gay." And he goes, I'm in a confessional blind. He goes, "Don't worry Bash, lots of people your age feel that way." And when I realized he knew my name, I almost passed out. You could hear me hit he side of the confessional, but the fact I only had like a penance of like, I don't know, 10 Hail Marys. I mean, it didn't work. But still, I just love the idea that that priest...Afterwards, he looked me in the eye. I had a great time. I didn't have a terrible guide, one of those great Catholic backgrounds, but the idea that he would be so kind to me and supportive of that was so important. So people like Michael, who are just going to be nice and kind to me, you're a resource unto yourself, I think.

Michael Lark, CVT: Like, would a person be a resource?

Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM: Like, you are a resource.

Michael Lark, CVT: I mean, I guess, yeah. I had those two that I mentioned I felt more comfortable working there. Because like, and I kind of gravitated towards her in the beginning, because she was a part of the community. And so I feel like, you know, getting a little insight on how she was treated there. And all that stuff kind of made me want to stay there.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: And even one step further. Do you feel that clients, the LGBTQ plus clients feel connected to you? ,

Michael Lark, CVT: I feel like I feel like I'm, I feel like people know that I'm gay without me saying it. And so like...

Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM: I picked up on it right away.

Jennifer Evans: It's like our secret power.

Michael Lark, CVT: But I feel like especially women and when it comes totheir pets, they kind of trust me more in a weird way. And, yeah, so I just kind of...

Erik Zager, DVM, DACVECC: I think there's, you know, a fair bit in veterinary medicine, education, stuff like that is this idea that you need to separate your personal life from professional life in every way shape and form. And you'll never ask or answer any questions about that stuff, even if they ever say "what would you do?" never respond. And I think that that is a black and white thing that doesn't actually help the industry. I think making those connections with your clients can be really helpful. And so whether it is the little pin on your collar that has the pride flag, or something like that, I think allows you to have that connection with clients to make them feel safe to talk to you more about their pet's health. To talk to you more about what the next steps are. And so I think that having those personal connections allows you to to be a more successful professional.

Omar Farías, VMD: And to build on that I think those personal connections and opening yourself up, it's providing to the community that you're serving the visibility of who you are as an individual. And in my past life, in my life, before Hill's, I used to be a practice owner. And I'm from Puerto Rico's you know, and obviously, I'm gay, if that wasn't obvious.

Jennifer Evans: We couldn't tell.

Omar Farías, VMD: Yeah, I know, I know, it's hard in this panel. But it the great thing about when I was opening with my clients about, you know, my personal life and my background, both as a gay man, and as a Hispanic man, you know, I attracted tons of clientele that were looking for a safe space. I attracted tons of great gay content in the suburbs of Philadelphia that were coming to my practice, because they knew there was a gay doctor, and there was not going to be an awkward conversation. They didn't have to explain to you like, "Oh, you know, my partner..." That wasn't part of the equation. It was all about what was happening with their dog. It was all it was happening with their cat and me as a veterinarian supporting them. And the same thing happened with the Spanish speaking community in the area. And I had clients that used to come drive two and three hours because they had heard through the grapevine that there was a Spanish speaking veterinarian that could actually speak to them their language and make them comfortable. So I think that visibility is important. And not only serves just LGBTQ side, but also other parts of diversity as well.

Jennifer Evans: I'm actually going to build on that because I think that one of the biggest things that we have to have, whenever we are dealing with clients, they're in their some of their most vulnerable moments when they're talking about their pets. And if we go in, and we don't have that connection, it's easy for us to talk over their head and they're like deer in headlights, and they they're not comfortable asking you questions about their pet. When really if you go in and you match that vulnerability, right like that. I recognize that you're in this vulnerable space. I want to connect with you. Please know you know something about myself or whatever it is that can help break that wall down a little bit. It builds a relationship to be able to have deeper conversation. It allows trust for them to ask you questions and they leave feeling like they got better value for their pets, which is ultimately one of our biggest goals.

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