Our series on “Champions for Change” features people of any gender in any role who are making a difference and creating positive change for women in the veterinary sector – enabling aspirations, inspiring and supporting others to grow and follow their passions, and empowering our community.

Dr Katrin Jahn is founder of The German Veterinary Clinic in Abu Dhabi and the online Trinity Veterinary Behaviour consultancy. Her colleague, Mike Kitchen, nominated Katrin, saying “Dr Katrin has been paving the way for female veterinary professionals in the Middle East (and internationally) for many years. An inspiration to her team, other veterinary professionals and small business owners alike, Dr Katrin continually champions the power of progress and demonstrates that the opportunity for positive change is not just words but a reality.” We were excited to find out more about how Katrin is championing change.

Please provide a brief bio/summary of your career story.

  • Katrin graduated from Munich Veterinary School in Germany in 1999.
  • Started a rotating internship at the Animal Health Trust end 1999 for 1 year.
  • General practice in Manchester 2000-2002, completed by German Dr. med. vet. thesis and examination.
  • Internship in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia at Liverpool University in 2002 and gained RCVS CertVA (Certificate in Veterinary Anaesthesia & Analgesia).
  • Multiple locum jobs and night shifts in emergency hospitals until 2006, then moved to the UAE in 2006. Worked at a practice here from 2006 before opening the German Veterinary Clinic in 2008.
  • First ISFM Gold Standard Cat Friendly Clinic in 2014, Fear Free Certification in 2018.
  • Started residency in Veterinary Behaviour Medicine (through both European College of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Medicine and American College of Veterinary Behaviorists) in 2019, hoping to sit board exams next year.
  • MANZCVS in Veterinary Behaviour by examination in 2021.
  • German Veterinary Clinic has grown to a team of over 30 including myself and 5 additional vets and we celebrated out 15-year anniversary this year.
  • In 2022, I launched a separate, fully online Veterinary Behaviour Business, Trinity Veterinary Behaviour.
  • Air travel in pets and stress management during air travel is a large area of interest and I have published two (soon to be three) papers around this topic (first two papers are in JFMS).
  • Other areas of passion are feline medicine and welfare and management of stray cat populations globally.

Please summarise how you are working towards change in the veterinary professions and why do you feel this is important?

I like to think that I am raising awareness about the mental and emotional health or ill health of our pets and that this is just as important as their physical health and wellbeing. Consulting with and helping patients and their families dealing with mental health disorders such as anxiety, fears and phobias, aggressive behaviours and more has been life changing for myself, the team around me and those patients and families that I treat.

I also feel that raising awareness of the importance of the patient experience in the veterinary clinic and how this impacts not only welfare, but also patient outcomes, is an area that needs more focus and education, and this is something we champion every day at German Veterinary Clinic.

Finally, I hope that I can inspire the team around me to push through barriers when it comes to patient care, thinking every day how we can make things better for the patients in our care. I am a huge supporter of women in the industry, and I make sure to provide opportunities for learning and self-improvement wherever I can.

Being a female veterinary practice owner in the Middle East has been an interesting journey and I hope it shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it!

How do you feel this is making a difference?

It definitely makes a difference for the patients themselves. Implementing Cat Friendly and Fear Free principles can hugely change their mental and emotional welfare, and this often has benefits to physical health as well.

Giving my team the opportunity to work in an environment where patient care really is at the forefront of everything is very important to me and changes the awareness that there is a different way of doing things.

I hope that each of my team members feel that they have the opportunity to achieve anything they wish in a supportive and encouraging environment.

“I hope that I can inspire the team around me to push through barriers when it comes to patient care.”

What motivated you to want to change things?

I think it was just the realisation that there are different ways of achieving better results in veterinary practice. Opening my own clinic also gave me the freedom to explore these and realise things I am passionate about such as becoming Cat Friendly and Fear Free.

There came a point where I realised that we, as vets, are really good at taking care of the physical health of our patients but not so good at taking care of their mental, emotional and behavioural needs. I wanted to change this, and this motivated me to start the residency in Veterinary Behaviour Medicine in 2019.

How have you encouraged other people to get on board with your ideas?

In the veterinary industry, many things are best communicated on the back of evidence and research and luckily, there is more and more research available on the benefits of minimising fear and stress in the veterinary setting. Also, my team sees how much happier the patients are in clinic when we adopt a gentle, considered, stress free approach.

It can be more difficult at times to get owners on board. A mindset shift is required in everyone involved to create the best outcome for the patient.

I have always strived to offer the best standards of veterinary care in the UAE and the Middle East as a whole and I believe that we have created a great environment for patients, owners and team members at GVC.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in this journey and how have you overcome them?

Being a veterinary practice owner is not easy anywhere in the world, and Covid-19 certainly brought its fair share of challenges with it too.

The UAE is a constantly changing, ebbing and flowing expat hub. Veterinary professionals as well as clients come and go on a regular basis and therefore, keeping the consistency of standards, education and skills within the team is a challenge that needs constant attention and management.

What has most helped and motivated you along the way?

I think the patients themselves motivate me the most. Seeing the change in a fearful or frustrated pet is just magical and definitely keeps the motivation high. I also believe that the team you build around you is crucial and helps to keep motivating and reinforcing the path and the journey.

I also love seeing people learn and grow and become more confident professionally and personally.

What is the best advice you’ve been given, or that you would give to someone else, about driving positive change?

Taking small, yet consistent steps towards your goal and trusting your gut and intuition.

What are your next steps to continue creating change for the better?

Last year, I created a fully online Veterinary Behaviour Business – Trinity Veterinary Behaviour.

This will enable me to share education and resources on all things Veterinary Behaviour on a global scale. The business is just in its infancy as I dedicate the time to completing my residency, however, I see big things happening in the future.

Our thanks to Katrin for sharing her inspiring story of how she is championing change. If you would like to nominate a Champion for Change or share your story, please let us know.

For exclusive access to more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly newsletter

You may also like:

Veterinary Woman ‘Champions for Change’

Effecting Culture Change in Veterinary Practice:  Where to Start?

Joint Venture Partnership success for RVN

Leave a Reply