Support for U.K. Veterinarians Seeking Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance for the equine veterinarian who’s also a parent requires planning, patience, good boundaries, and in many cases, a flexible employer. To help, four U.K. vets launched an initiative called MumsVet in 2016.
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Support for UK Veterinarians Seeking Work-Life Balance
The members of the initial MumsVet working party: Drs. Sarah Gasper, Hannah Yeates, Ben Sturgeon, Vicki Nicholls, Lucy Grieve, and Carolyne Crowe. | Photo: Courtesy British Equine Veterinary Association
Work-life balance for the equine veterinarian who’s also a parent requires planning, patience, good boundaries, and, in many cases, a flexible employer. Support and insights from people sharing the experience can help, too. That’s why four equine practitioners in the U.K., all horse doctors and parents, launched an initiative called MumsVet in 2016.

MumsVet’s founders endeavor to equip practitioners grappling with issues related to pregnancy, parenthood, and general work-life balance with tools available on the British Equine Veterinary Association’s (BEVA) website and access to a private Facebook group.

Today’s Equine Veterinarians Want Work-Life Balance

“(BEVA does) a member survey each year, and it was interesting to see that the greatest change from 2016 to 2017, the most important things members were worried about last year, was work-life balance,” says Victoria M. Nicholls, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, Cert. AVP (EM), Cert. AVP (ED), BAEDT, MRCVS. “I think that’s really changed.”

Nicholls, a mother of two, is coordinator of equine postgraduate professional studies in the University of Liverpool’s Veterinary Postgraduate Unit and was BEVA president 2017-2018. She and co-founder Lucy Grieve, MA, VetMB, MRCVS, believe the shift in work-life-balance concern reflects the current demographic in equine veterinary practice. Women outnumber men—as is the case in the United States—and generally place more emphasis on such balance due to raising families.

Dr. Vicki Nicholls with her children
Dr. Vicki Nicholls with her children out walking when the youngest was 3 weeks old. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Vicki Nicholls
“Men are not as attracted to the equine veterinary profession as they used to be. We’re attracting more women now,” says Grieve, a mom of two, part-time associate at Rossdales Equine Surgeons, in Newmarket, working with racehorses and pleasure horses, and member of BEVA Council. “We’ve got a problem in that the job is not highly compatible with family life, so by the time they are five years qualified or so and thinking of having a family, some women are leaving the profession

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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