It’s Time to Talk About Race in the Equine Veterinary Profession

The numbers show the equine veterinary profession lacks diversity. Here, equine internal medicine specialist, University of Calgary veterinary school senior instructor of equine clinical medicine, and The Horse contributor Jean-Yin Tan, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, shares her experience as a minority in the industry.
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It’s Time to Talk About Race in the Equine Veterinary Profession
Dr. Jean-Yin Tan is an equine internal medicine specialist and a senior instructor of equine clinical medicine at the University of Calgary School of Veterinary Medicine.

A veterinarian’s professional identity is often centered around empathy, compassion, kindness, and the ability to relate to both animal owners and animals to achieve the best results for the health of the animal patient. Consequently, these veterinarians may feel discomfort reconciling that compassionate self-identity with the need to engage in uncomfortable reflective introspection on how they relate to other humans in terms of race and ethnicity. As the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in June 2020, I was moved to see that the few veterinarians of color I know began feeling comfortable voicing race-related concerns that have plagued them for years. What has been missing is a conversation about equine veterinary medicine and racial diversity, the barriers in the profession, and how they affect horse health.

Barriers to Entering the Profession

Significant roadblocks exist that prevent minorities from entering the equine veterinary profession. One is a lack of visible minorities in the profession. In my 15-year career as an equine veterinarian who has practiced in four states and two provinces, I have only encountered less than a handful of equine professionals that were people of color, and none of them looked like me.

It’s Time to Talk About Race in the Equine Veterinary Profession
Amanda Chang, DVM, CVA, owns Myrtle Beach Equine Clinic.
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Jean-Yin Tan, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM-LAIM, is an equine internal medicine specialist and faculty member at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She trained previously in New Jersey, Minnesota, and California and subsequently spent six years in private practice, including owning an equine specialty practice in New York State. Her interests include equine infectious disease and respiratory disease.

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