Work · Sustainability Practitioners

Meet Hannah Davies, Technical Content Lead for Vet Sustain, & Lecturer in Veterinary Clinical Practice at Surrey Vet School

Hannah Davies

Hi! Please tell us who you are and what you do.

I’m Hannah. I am Technical Content Lead here at Vet Sustain, and Lecturer in Veterinary Clinical Practice at Surrey Vet School

What is your current role and professional interests?

My role at Vet Sustain is centred around the creation of useful resources to help veterinary professionals navigate the complexities of the principles of sustainability.

At The University of Surrey my role involves running the farm animal intramural rotations in the final year of the curriculum and supporting students in farm and equine clinical teaching. I have also been involved in championing the incorporation of sustainability into the curriculum.

What does a typical day look like for you?

At Vet Sustain at the moment I am spending some of my time mapping the huge bank of resources that Vet Sustain has built, to make sure that all the veterinary sustainability goals are well represented as well as ensuring we have resources covering a variety of species areas and topics. We want to ensure that our resource bank is comprehensive and targeted at all areas of sustainability across all species.

At Surrey a typical day involves heading out to visit our final year students whilst they are on rotation at farm and equine practices around the country. I love to hear about the cases that students are seeing and the skills they are developing and help them to reflect on their learning journey as they complete their veterinary course. I also often find myself teaching workshops in years 3 and 4, as well as writing exam questions for the final year papers.

What is your favourite part of the job?

For Vet Sustain, my favourite part of the job is being able to focus my mind onto the challenges of sustainability. I am fascinated by the complex problems that sustainable development brings and I really enjoy trying to find creative solutions. I am also really grateful to be part of such a kind and passionate team of people who really care about the future of the planet and the humans and animals that reside within.

For Surrey, I get great satisfaction from working with students as they come to complete their undergraduate veterinary studies. It is a great privilege to be a small part of their journey towards becoming a 'real' vet!

What is the most challenging part of your job?

With both roles the greatest challenge is time! I would love to have all the time in the world but sadly that isn't realistic! I have to be quite strict about how I prioritise my workload to make sure that I am focusing on the most pressing and important things.

Do you have any tips for achieving a good work-life balance?

It’s so tricky to achieve a good work-life balance and I think it is something that gets easier as you get older - you get better at identifying the things that really matter to you!

Work can be really overwhelming at times and I think having a regular outlet can be incredibly helpful. For me, I really enjoy trail running and mountain biking and the head space that this provides. I make a big effort to build these activities into my week.

I also appreciate spending time with friends and family; laughter is so good for the soul!

How do veterinary professionals currently help to drive sustainability?

I think the veterinary profession is making great strides in championing sustainability through considering the sustainability of our practice, driving responsible use of medicines and improving wellbeing within the profession.

What do you feel are the major opportunities to drive sustainability in the veterinary sector?

I think we have a great opportunity to educate others.

As vets, we are uniquely placed to understand the key interactions between humans, animals and the environment and as a trusted profession, we can take a leading role in educating others. Small, non-judgmental conversations can lead to big change and I really feel that vets have an important part to play here.

This is where Vet Sustain can help drive positive change through education and building community.

What are your top tips for veterinary professionals wishing to take the first steps to drive sustainability in their roles?

Start small! Remember that there are a lot of useful resources out there already.

Take a look at the Vet Sustain website and familiarise yourself with the Greener Veterinary Practice checklist and the carbon calculator tool. These are great starting points for your sustainability journey.

Try not to lose momentum. Join the Vet Sustain community to find support and positivity from others on the same pathway. Start having conversations, be non-judgmental and most importantly listen and reflect.

If you could wave a magic wand and make one improvement to drive the sustainability impact of the veterinary profession, what would it be?

For me this comes down to education. I would love to see the development of sustainable culture within veterinary educational institutions where the principles of sustainability are embedded in the learning journey of students. If we can champion sustainability at this point, our graduates will have a clear grounding in sustainability and it’s importance as they enter the workplace. I think this would be a really successful way of encouraging 'sustainable thinking' and would lead to greater focus on sustainability within the wider profession.