Drs Joop Loomans and I were recently in the United Arab Emirates for 10 days. We started our visit in Dubai working with some companion animal veterinary practice owners who needed some guidance on preparing their practices for the future. While we were there, we had the opportunity to visit many other practices and then had the privilege of hosting two roundtables at the recent World Veterinary Congress in Abu Dhabi. Joop lead a discussion on retaining veterinarians in the profession, while I hosted a session on the future of technology in the veterinary profession.
Beyond what we heard during the roundtables, we were challenged by how the global presence of veterinarians made the two of us question our Western impressions of the veterinary profession. We were delighted to meet veterinarians from all continents and to understand their challenges and opportunities in their countries.
For example, it became apparent that envisioning a future of artificial intelligence and robotics in the veterinary profession was almost science fiction for the many veterinarians working in countries without broadband or wide distribution of computers and smartphones. Another big discussion was the challenge that practice owners in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have in retaining veterinarians in practice when many veterinarians shared that in their countries the veterinary profession is looked down upon, or how female veterinarians in some countries are met with hostility and often fear for their safety. These were sobering discussions and all we could do was encourage these vets that what they do is valuable and needed.
The common theme throughout the Congress was that regardless of where we practice and the challenges, we face our love for animals and our desire to help them prevails. At lunch one day a solemn and austere gentleman sat down at the same table as Joop and I. He was a local veterinarian all in white in his thawb, or long robe and keffiyeh, the traditional headdress. Meanwhile, Joop and I have our blazers and dress pants, so it was a real blend of cultures.
We introduced ourselves and started chatting about what we do. He was a camel theriogenologist, and he was so proud to share the news that he helped one of his clients deliver a calf that was the result of breeding with frozen semen from the most famous racing bull that had been dead for 14 years. He pulled out his iPhone and started sharing pictures. He was elated.
Regardless of our differences, we are all vets and beyond language, culture, and the clothes we wear, we all share in the joy and wonder of caring for animals of any type. Joop and I left the Congress with enthusiasm and optimism for our profession.
We are in the process of recording some Hire the Smile podcast episodes with some of the special people we met in the United Arab Emirates. We will keep you posted when they are released.