What reputation does your veterinary speciality have?

Posted 4 months ago

A new study highlights the prevalence of professional stereotypes within the veterinary community

Stereotypes have long been powerful in society and are faced by us all in everyday life. A recent study sought to explore whether they exist within the veterinary field. Results from a UK-based study supported by The University of Surrey has shown that speciality-specific stereotypes exist within the veterinary community. Participants were asked to provide an adjective that best characterises 15 veterinary specialities.

665 participants took part in the study, formed of UK-based vets, vet nurses, vet students and student nurses. Some specialities were perceived as more negative than others, such as equine general practitioners, surgeons, pathologists, dermatologists and public health veterinarians. 

  • Small animal GPs were associated to the following words: “caring”, “friendly”, “compassionate”, “kind”, and “empathetic”, as well as “stressed”, “hard-working” and “all-rounder”.
  • Equine GPs were regarded more negatively, with the following words being most frequently used: “posh”, “arrogant”.
  • NTCA (Non-traditional companion animal) vets were commonly described as: “unusual”, “alternative” and “eccentric”.
  • Surgeons were largely perceived as: “arrogant”, “confident”, “skilled”.
  • Oncologists were widely described as: “caring”, “empathetic”, “smart” and “optimistic”.
  • When asked to select up to three specialities that respondents would consider as prestigious, respondents largely chose neurology, surgery and cardiology.
  • Zoo and wildlife veterinary was the only speciality without a single negative connotation, with veterinarians in this speciality described as “cool,”, “adventurous”, and “brave”.

Findings from the study conclude that the UK veterinary community do stereotype veterinary specialities, with 82% agreeing that stereotypes exist. 

The full study can be accessed here.