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British Veterinary LGBT: Matt's story

To celebrate LGBT History Month, veterinary surgeon Matt Gurney encourages anyone struggling with their sexuality or gender identity to reach out to a trusted friend.

Can you tell us what started/inspired your path into the veterinary profession?

Working on my Uncle’s farm as a teenager and with the local vets in South Devon made me realise that being a vet was what I wanted to do as a career. From that point the one thing that drew me in was the collegiality within the profession and the feeling that everyone in the practice was part of the veterinary family.

What has been the most challenging part of your career?

After graduation I started work in a small animal practice with open surgery consulting. Opening the door of the consulting room and calling in the next patient without a clue to their presentation was pretty challenging. It certainly taught me how to think on my feet and the support of my colleagues in that fantastic practice helped me thrive.

Thinking on my feet is a key skill as an anaesthetist so those early days served me well. The first few months of my residency were fairly intimidating. Being back in an academic environment after 2 years of learning to survive in practice was certainly a challenge. And of course, 3 years later my diploma exams were certainly a mountain – but I enjoyed that challenge.

What has been the best part of your career so far?

Being part of the leadership team at Northwest Veterinary Specialists over a seven-year period was immensely rewarding. Working as part of a team to build a workplace that supports everyone was really important to me. Although the stressful moments were frequent, looking back at the bigger picture I’m really pleased to have been in that role.

What are your proudest achievements of your career?

My proudest achievements are related to the success of others where I have played a role. I really love supporting and mentoring our interns. At Northwest Vet Specialists I led the intern program and at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists

I have three interns in my team. Watching them develop professionally over the year, with trials and tribulations in between, there is nothing more satisfying than to see them move on to their next role full of gratitude for how their careers have developed – especially when they choose anaesthesia as a discipline. Publishing papers and passing exams comes second to that for achievement!

What advice would you offer to someone experiencing difficulty with their sexuality or gender identity?

Find someone you can trust to talk to. I’m a strong believer that talking is the best way forward but am totally guilty of finding it really hard to start the conversation.

If there is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self what would that be and why?

Slow down! Enjoy the journey rather than simply focusing on the destination.

More information

BVA has launched its first ever questionnaire to gather experiences of discrimination in the veterinary professions. BVA is seeking anonymous feedback from vets, vet nurses, students and other veterinary professionals regarding incidents where they have witnessed discrimination or felt discriminated against.

The questionnaire is open from 2 February until 2 March and should take around 10 minutes to complete.


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