Career identity in the veterinary profession

Page-Jones, S and Abbey, G (2015) Career identity in the veterinary profession. VETERINARY RECORD, 176 (17). p. 433.

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Abstract

This research investigates vet and vet nurse career identity through the qualitative methodology of narrative enquiry. It derives learning and understanding from these empirical data to assist the veterinary profession to adjust to the changing industry landscape. Through a case series of 20 vets and vet nurses’ career stories, this paper seeks understanding about career identity and its impact on individuals and organisations in the light of industry consolidation. Findings suggest that career is central to identity for many veterinary professionals who tend to have a strong sense of self; this is particularly evident around self as learner and technically competent, teacher and educator, ethical and moral and dedicated and resilient. Consequently, mismatches between ‘who I am’ and ‘what I do’ tend not to lead to identity customisation (to fit self into role or organisation) but to the search for alternative, more identity-compatible employment. This study offers a valuable insight for employers, veterinary professionals and universities. It suggests that businesses can gain competitive advantage and employees achieve validation and enrichment by working towards organisational and individual identity congruence and that teaching veterinary professionals with contemporary business in mind may develop graduates with a more sustainable identity.