Smashing Stereotypes: Daniella Dos Santos

Let’s talk vet diversity


Daniella Dos Santos

Small animal and exotic pet vet

Daniella Dos Santos is a small animal and exotics vet, and Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). She became the youngest ever President of the British Veterinary Association in 2019, aged just 34, guiding the profession through the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Daniella has championed #VetDiversity throughout her presidency, championing the different career paths available to vets, the diversity of people within the profession, widening participation, and the different ways into veterinary medicine and vet school.

 Her journey into vet school was not straight forward, with it taking five attempts and a whole separate degree (molecular genetics) – and nearly becoming an accountant!

Being a vet, you can never predict what is going to happen each day. In a small animal practice, you may be examining and vaccinating a litter of beautiful puppies one day, interpreting blood test results from a cat the next, then taking radiographs on a rabbit.

You never know what animals will walk through the front door – there are no “typical days” or typical patients! Which is why I love my job. I get to meet lots of different people and animals, of course. I also get to problem solve; each case is a new ‘problem’ that needs solving, so I need to figure out what is wrong, why it’s wrong and ultimately, how can I fix it?

I’ve always been fascinated by science and love animals, so being a veterinary surgeon is the perfect way to string these passions together. At school, my favourite subject was science, especially biology. Around the same time, I had lost a pet goldfish which upset me so much that I promised myself I would never let another animal suffer!

Keeping this promise wasn’t easy. I had to get a degree in Molecular Genetics before I could get into vet school. My journey to becoming a vet wasn’t straight forward. But this experience taught me that science is for everyone, is everywhere and there will be an aspect of science that is right for you. Science isn’t for the ‘brainy’ – all you need is an open and inquisitive mind.

And if veterinary medicine is your science of choice, remember that you don’t have to be from a farming/horsey/animal background. I grew up in central London, with no access to agriculture, horses, or even small animal vets. The veterinary profession is open to all!

If anything, different experiences and backgrounds act as strength. Having a diverse team with diverse skills and perspectives who are supported and encouraged, will result in better public health, animal health and welfare outcomes.

If a profession is representative of the community it serves, there is greater trust and understanding between owners and veterinary professionals – which can only be a good thing for the animals!

Within a team, everyone has different strengths and when we work as a team, listening to each other and bringing out each other’s skills, is when new ideas develop. Innovation needs a diverse team to see things from different angles.

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The Smashing Stereotypes campaign is supported by 3M.