Article Text

Questions of identity
  1. Rosie Allister, BSc (Hons), BVSc, MSc, MRCVS
  1. Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK
  1. e-mail: rosie.allister{at}

Statistics from

QUESTIONS of identity and being are central to philosophy, but they also have practical relevance in professional terms. Professional identity – how we perceive ourselves as professionals – has implications for our behaviour, the ethical principles we ascribe to, and the way we interact with the world. Developing professional identity is a crucial part of veterinary training.

Vets, like other professionals, are influenced by their occupational culture. Academic knowledge alone, without the ability to fit in and work with the norms and values held by others in the profession and observe expected standards of professional behaviour, would leave veterinary graduates ill-equipped for professional life. Yet although professional identity has received extensive attention in medical and other professional literature, it is almost absent from veterinary discourse.

As with many professions, as vets we have a social contract with our clients and society. Similarly to medicine, by the end of training, vets are expected to behave professionally and uphold a range of ethical principles (Monrouxe and Rees 2012). In medicine, professional identity formation has been described as the transformative process from lay person to physician (Holden and others 2012), and involves the development of core values, self-awareness and moral principles. Monrouxe (2010) suggests that the development of medical identity is as important as the acquisition of knowledge to medical training, stating that medical education is as much about learning to talk and act like a doctor as it is about learning the content …

View Full Text

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.