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Young vet speaks out about lack of black and minority ethnic role models
Just three per cent of vets in the UK are from BME backgrounds.

David Charles reveals new ideas to build a diverse profession 

A young veterinary surgeon has spoken out about the barriers faced by current and potential black or minority ethnic (BME) veterinary students both in the UK and the USA.

Twenty-six-year-old David Charles from Oakwood Vets in Norfolk is somewhat of a rarity in the profession, with figures showing just three per cent of vets in the UK are from BME backgrounds.

David was president of the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) 2018-19 and is now senior vice president of the AVS. He believes that studying to become a veterinary surgeon in such an environment could be challenging.

“First of all, there is the lack of BME role models in the UK for vets, vet students and aspiring vet students,” he explained. “It’s very common to go through five years of training without being taught by, or seeing practice with, any BME vets. 

“Arguably the most high-profile vets on TV are Noel Fitzpatrick and the Yorkshire Vet, which aren’t very representative to aspiring vet students.”

David continued: “For students considering our profession, it can seem like a career option which isn’t open to them. As they say, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ and we really need to work on developing a pipeline of BME students who believe they can be part of our fantastic profession.”

David recently returned from New Orleans where he spoke at the inaugural Conference of the National Association of Black Veterinarians (NABV). He is now eager to become one of several veterinary role models for aspiring students from ‘unconventional backgrounds’.

David said: “Black vets account for less than three per cent of the industry in the USA, making it the whitest profession in the country. The NABV is committed to changing that and is actively working for a more diverse and inclusive profession for current and future black veterinarians. 

“They are working hard to create a strong network and community of black vets in the USA and are working with allies such as the AVMA and several heads of vet schools to develop a pipeline of young black vet students, something which is also lacking here in the UK.”

He added: “One of the key points which really resonated with me was that being a black vet shouldn’t be such a big thing, you’re just a vet who happens to be black. Surely it’s much more important to be a good vet and, therefore, a good role model to future students.”

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Rare chimp birth announced at Edinburgh Zoo

News Story 1
 The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) welcomed the birth of a critically endangered western chimpanzee on Monday 3 February at Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

The baby girl will be named in the coming days through a public vote, and staff will carry out a paternity test during its first health check to determine the father.

Mother Heleen's first infant, Velu, was born in 2014, making this new baby only the second chimpanzee born in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Budongo Trail team leader Donald Gow said: "While we celebrate every birth, this one is particularly special because our new arrival is a critically endangered Western chimpanzee, a rare subspecies of chimpanzee."

Image (c) RZSS/Donald Gow. 

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News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.