30 May 2019 | Animal health
British Veterinary LGBT: Mike's story
To celebrate LGBT History Month, small animal practice owner Mike Nikolaou gives his advice to anyone experiencing difficulty with their sexuality or gender identity.
Can you tell us what started/inspired your path into the veterinary profession?
There were quite a few medical professionals in my family, but there were even more pets than professionals – at some point we even had a donkey and two baby goats in the garden. So when the time came to choose a career, I loved animals and I loved medicine, so being greedy I wanted to do both and the vet thing sounded like a perfect idea.
What has been the most challenging part of your career?
Moving to a foreign country as a new grad with almost zero work experience - I moved to the UK leaving all my friends and family behind and that felt like a huge challenge at the time. Also, being sole charge from day one at my first job with 5 minute back-to-back appointments comes a very close second.
What has been the best part of your career so far?
One of the greatest things about being a vet is that we possess a skillset that is highly valued and in great demand in countries all over the world. I have come to realise that volunteering with charities and shelters and using this skillset to positively help animals and people that are in need is a fantastically rewarding experience. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change the world for the animals we treat. Outside work, I love travelling, learning new languages and winter skiing.
What are your proudest achievements of your career?
Starting my own small animal practice from scratch. At the height of the financial crisis back in 2009 we opened our doors and just sat looking at the phone waiting for it to ring. After a lot of hard work, it's now a successful, openly gay-owned, independent practice that employs 15+ people, which has to be my proudest achievement. I never considered myself a business-minded person, but it's funny how life has different ideas for us all.
What advice would you offer to someone experiencing difficulty with their sexuality or gender identity?
Our friends and families are our safety net. Surround yourself with good people that love you for who you are and keep them close. Even in your darkest hour when you feel that you are all alone, remember that people do love you so reach out for their support. And join the BVLGBT+, you will discover that there are many people that have successfully walked the path of sexuality and identity, so just reach out.
If there is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self what would that be and why?
Accept yourself for who you are! Be happy and don't worry too much about what other people think - be proud, be bold, be kind and love as hard as you can.
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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