Veterinary students

Diverse and rewarding veterinary careers

Clare is a Senior Teaching Associate for curriculum and innovation in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, where she is currently chairing a taskforce to develop a curricular thread on professional skills throughout the professional veterinary course. Clare graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1996 and after completing an equine ambulatory internship at Millbrook Equine Practice in New York she started teaching on an equine studies programme and founded her own equine practice.

In 2005-06 Clare taught at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and became interested in veterinary education and curriculum development. Clare completed her PhD in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the Ohio State University in 2013, with her doctoral research focusing on the career choice of veterinary students in the context of the feminisation of the profession.

Clare is currently President of Veterinary Educators Worldwide (ViEW), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote and support excellence and international cooperation in veterinary education.

Clare Allen

Clare Allen

I have wanted to be a vet all of my life… (well, apart from when I wanted to be a princess in my really early years!). But my identity as a vet has continued to evolve and change throughout my education and career. My veterinary career so far, then, has not been typical. But that is because, I would argue, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ veterinary career. After almost 10 years in equine ambulatory practice, latterly as a solo practitioner, like many others in the profession, I found the work-life challenge of being on call 24/7 hard to manage with the needs of my growing family. Which is how I stumbled into teaching. However, instead of being a temporary career diversion while my kids were little, veterinary education has, rather unexpectedly, become my passion and my calling, which led me to a PhD in education.

My doctoral thesis, inspired by my own career path, looked at how vet students made their career choices, and how we could help to prepare them for more diverse future careers in veterinary medicine. Not too surprisingly, this made me realise that we needed to have some idea of what the future of the profession might look like, and maybe even guide that future through the challenges that we are facing. That is when I started to advocate for the veterinary profession to pay attention to where we were heading, and be proactive about shaping that pathway. So, when I heard about the Vet Futures project I was on board immediately, and was hugely encouraged and excited that British vets were leading the way on this. I attended one of the roadshows, read the report, and was excited to apply for and be accepted onto the Action Group. That excitement has continued as I have worked with a group of amazingly talented and motivated individuals, who also care passionately about steering our profession into the future mindfully.

The membership of the Vet Futures Action Group is a true demonstration of the diversity of career paths that veterinary medicine can offer: from key roles in clinical practice and animal welfare; to careers in One Health, education, business and innovation. This made my job of promoting diverse, sustainable career paths for future members of the profession relatively easy within the Group, since we had all lived some of those opportunities first-hand. But we want to be sure that our experience is passed on to others. So our discussion of actions and priorities have focused on practical solutions for supporting all members of our profession, from potential applicants, to students, and established members of the profession looking for the next opportunity or challenge to fit their changing life circumstances. The idea of a careers hub therefore,  emerged quickly, although we kept expanding it as we thought about all of the different people it could benefit. The key will be to make it accessible to all of those people, and to promote and maintain it adequately. I am also proud of our recommendations to conduct a workforce review of the profession, and to review the purpose of EMS, and outcomes for graduates. All of these will have important implications for creating sustainable, diverse career options for graduates in the future.

Now I look forward to seeing how others in veterinary medicine respond to these actions, and help to take them forward. After all, these actions and recommendations will only succeed with the engagement and enthusiasm of all of those within our great profession.

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