Animal health care is being delivered by an increasing number of professions and occupations. This article takes an inward look at the veterinary team, focusing on the day-to-day life of veterinarians and those with whom they work, such as veterinary technicians/nurses, physical therapists, and farriers. The evolution of the work of the veterinarian should be explored alongside the evolution of closely related occupations, as the current working practice of veterinarians is affected by the practice of these other occupations. An example is given of UK veterinary nurses (similar to veterinary technicians in North America) who are currently undergoing professionalization. Seminal implementations have included a register (2007), disciplinary procedures (2011), a declaration of professional responsibilities (2012), and required continuing professional development for registered veterinary nurses (RVNs). These implementations result in veterinary nurses who are now accountable for their actions. There are many potential benefits to good inter-professional practice for the practice itself, individual team members, clients, and patients, including better results produced by the whole team rather than the sum of the parts, financial benefits to using individuals in lower-paid occupations for shared roles, and greater client satisfaction regarding increased options for treatment. There are, however, many challenges to inter-professional working that center on the interlinked themes of hierarchy (power, status, and the understanding/appreciation of professional roles) and communication (lack of/poor). Inter-professional education (IPE) is suggested as a potential means to overcome these challenges; however, research into IPE exclusively related to the veterinary team is lacking.
Keywords: inter-professional; team work; veterinary nurse; veterinary technician.