Introduction to Sustainability in Veterinary Practices
Every veterinary practice is unique! Some are large, some small. Many focus on a limited group of animal species while others are general practices. But one thing that they all have in common is a growing awareness of the need to practise more sustainably.
Sustainability is a word which can mean different things in different contexts. Attempts to embrace a more sustainable approach to veterinary practice frequently lead to unforeseen complications. It is often difficult to decide what the best option is in any one situation. VetSalus has been concerned with veterinary sustainability for a number of years and has established a network of experienced consultants as well as, more recently, launching our first online course on sustainability for veterinarians. More details on the course can be found on our dedicate training site - learn.vetsalus.com
This article introduces a new initiative, a series of articles on how individual practices are dealing with sustainability. Three prominent veterinary practices, two in the UK and one in NZ have been approached to provide a short article describing their varying approaches. All of them have been proactive in this field and are also investors in VetSalus.
In the first article from a New Zealand farm practice, VetSouth, describes how they formed a sustainability group which produced educational briefing materials for vets. The business has recognised the positive influence vets can have upon their farmer clients but importantly has provided resources so that the veterinarians involved are well informed about significant issues.
This is followed by an informative review from Synergy who have primarily focused on their own carbon footprint, particularly that of their large fleet of vehicles. They also recognise the importance of having a well briefed team who can discuss and advise their farmer clients with confidence.
Paragon Veterinary Group have also been early adopters of a proactive approach. Their managing director, David Black, is CEO of VetSalus and also very involved in Vet Sustain. The business has engaged with its employees and the local community and sees education as an important role for veterinarians.
Every practice will have a differing set of priorities and it is often difficult to separate the “wood from the trees”. Vet Sustain, an organisation with which VetSalus is closely allied, has established a number of valuable resources which are available for free on its website. They are also actively working on a veterinary carbon calculator in partnership with Investors in the Environment which has been tailored specifically to the impacts of veterinary practice.
There are also a number of informative articles on the VetSalus website. Please visit our news pages for further information on this topic. Register your interest while you are there or contact us by email if you would like further information.
And if in reading this, you feel your own practice or group has something to contribute, please write a short article and forward for possible publication. We are all in this climate crisis together!