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Catch up on this week’s top headlines in the veterinary sphere, presented by VetX International

Balancing Motherhood and Work; How Female Veterinarians in the US are Struggling to Maintain a Work-life Balance During the Pandemic

Whilst most of the US workforce have been working from home over the last couple of months, veterinary practitioners have not had the same luxury. 

Many are busier than ever, putting a particular strain on mothers having to balance both work and family. 

Katie Buchanan, VMD, an associate veterinarian at Bayside Animal Medical Center in Severna Park, Maryland, is a mother of a one-year-old and a four-year-old.

‘We are one of few [practices] in the area taking new clients, but we are overwhelmed’ says Dr Buchanan. ‘I have nearly 30 callbacks in a day but no time to do them.’

She, like many other mothers within the profession, are not only having to cope with increasingly demanding workshedules, but also gender discrimination in both domestic and work spaces.

Although women make up 61.8% of the veterinary profession, only 29.3% of women are practice owners according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Mothers also spend twice as much time on housework and childcare than married fathers according to a study. 

Meghan Knox, DVM, mother to a 16-month-old and a relief veterinarian in New Jersey, stated that she deeply craved ‘a level of relaxation that I am simply unable to achieve, given the state of the world.’ 

’My family needs a vacation, someplace lovely like the Caribbean. My dentist recently determined that I’ve been clenching my teeth from stress, so now I officially see physical manifestations of the stress of the past 8 months.’

With female veterinarians having to be available for both their clients and their families 24/7, it is clear that the pandemic has exacerbated an existing problem which needs to be addressed. 

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Diversity in Veterinary Medicine; How One Woman is Paving the Way for More Representation

With only 19.6% of veterinary students coming from underrepresented populations in the US (according to the AAVMC), one young veterinarian is looking to change that. 

Valerie Marcano, DVM, PhD, is the cofounder of ‘Pawsibilities Vet Med’, an organisation that helps young people from underrepresented backgrounds enter veterinary medicine. 

Dr Marcano, who identifies as Afro-Latina, believes that students’ circumstances shouldn’t be a barrier for aspiring veterinarians. Alongside her husband, Seth Andrews, PhD, Dr Marcano recruits students and connects them to opportunities and mentors within the field.

‘A great mentor can inspire and elevate someone to new heights for everyone’s betterment’ reads the Pawsibilities website. 

‘While a poor supervisor kills dreams in [the] cradle. Despite this critical importance to a profession, there are shockingly few resources devoted to developing mentorship skills in veterinary medicine.’

Alongside her mentorship work, Dr Marcano works as a poultry veterinarian in North and South Carolina and  is the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

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BVA Retracts Statement About Prioritising Vets for the Covid Vaccine Rollout 

BVA President James Russell clarified that the British Veterinary Association (BVA) were not campaigning to prioritise vets for the covid vaccine rollout, contrary to headlines circulating the news. 

Mr Russel was misquoted by the Vet Times, who reported that the association was pushing for vets to be vaccinated sooner. 

In the statement, Mr Russell apologised for misleading the public. 

He stated that the BVA had written to the government, but for the purpose of ensuring officials had the relevant information for evaluating  ‘which professions or places of work may be at a higher or lower risk of exposure and transmission.’ 

He continued to state that ‘the Covid situation continues to be complex and fast-paced and I’m immensely proud of the way BVA has kept on top of the issues and made sure the correct information is provided to members. But we are only human and sometimes we make mistakes.’

‘I’m very sorry that we made this mistake and that this resulted in misleading headlines, which is exactly what we don’t need at the moment.’

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Australian Government Puts in Heightened Biosecurity Measures to Protect Livestock from African Swine Fever Mutation 

The Australian government is calling for tighter restrictions to prevent a new variant of the African swine fever from devastating pig populations. 

The disease has wiped out almost a billion pigs worldwide and has no vaccine. 

‘Variants are showing less obvious signs of the disease which increases the likelihood of it going undetected and uncontrolled’ said Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

‘[It is] a disease of chronic fatigue, slow growth, [and] reduced fertility — so if we’re relying on seeing lots of dead pigs as the first sign, we’re not going to see that sign.’

Authorities fear that the disease could enter Australia via mail or travellers. In the last couple of months, more than 40 tonnes of pork products were intercepted from air travellers, and more than 9 tons were intercepted at Australian mail centres.

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Vets Warn That Cull Plans Could See Almost 500k Badgers Killed

Dr Ian McGill, a veterinary expert on bTB has stated that the government’s plans to eradicate bTB by 2038 could see almost 500,000 badgers culled. 

Dr McGill stated that ‘in the cull so far there have been 141,000 badgers plus maybe another 3,000 from supplementary culls they have not announced yet. So that means if you multiply that back up, we are less than half way through this cull and you might be looking at the death of another 250,000 to 500,000 badgers, depending on how many cullers sign up.’

Although Dr McGill did welcome some aspects of the government’s plans, he encouraged veterinarians to write to the BVA to express their concerns, and put animal welfare first. 

‘I don’t think most BVA members support culling – most of the BVA are small animal vets and very concerned about welfare, so they should express their views to the association to get the BVA to change its policy and look at the evidence. This is a huge expansion; it is not a retraction at all, it is a potential doubling of the number of badgers killed.’

In response the BVA stated that they only supported the culling of Badgers in a ‘targeted, effective and humane manner’ and pledged to continue to monitor and review future culls. 

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How to Prevent Burnout whilst Planning Virtual Events 

With our personal and work lives becoming increasingly more intertwined, it is important to take a step back and evaluate how we can manage our competing responsibilities. 

Whether it’s a meeting, presentation or conference, There are several steps that you can make when planning virtual events which can decrease stress levels, improve performance and increase work satisfaction. 

Practicing acceptance and cultivating a mindset that is adaptable and flexible will help reduce pressure when planning events. Although event planning can take an enormous amount of effort, it is important to not let it be a detriment to your wellbeing. 

Reviewing your work with a colleague can further boost confidence and energise the planning process. Scheduling a work call can be a good way of testing your call mechanisms, and take the stress out of using technology. 

Creating a schedule and sticking to designated breaks can also be key to maintaining a work/life balance. Maintaining personal boundaries and acting as if you were within the physical bounds of the office are imperative to prevent overexertion.

Finally, don’t forget to ask for help! Whilst we might be working alone, it has never been easier to connect with others online. Delegate and collaborate with others, and your virtual event is sure to be a success. 

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For more on how to prevent burnouts, see our article on the 4 Ways to improve your work-life balance

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