Dr. Jayme Holmes – Profiles in Diversity

Dr. Jayme Holmes is 2020 graduate of UGA CVM. She is a former GVMA student representative, currently serves on the GVMA Membership committee and works as an associate veterinarian with Dearborn Animal Hospital.

“Every day I get to wake up and go to the greatest job in the world. I loved growing up in a house full of animals and found I connected with them deeper than most people did. I also have a passion for taking care of those around me: family, friends, classmates, and of course, animals. These two interests combine beautifully in practicing the art of veterinary medicine. I want every client to feel like they are empowered to take the best care of their animal so they can live long, healthy lives together.” – Jayme Holmes, DVM

When you were growing up did you encounter any LGBTQ veterinarians?
No, I only encountered a few small animal practitioners growing up, none of which were openly LGBTQ, to my knowledge.

What are some of the ways in which you feel that it’s more difficult to be an LGBTQ veterinary medicine?
I’m worried someone would make a false claim to the license board over my LGBTQ status. There are more general things, like if a company refused to work with my business, or a client harassed my staff about it – but those could happen anywhere.

Does being LGBTQ impact where you decided to practice?
Yes, very much. I used some online resources to looks where local ordinances would protect me in the workplace and my family legally. Practicing outside those areas is something I would not consider, for peace of mind.

Have you received any hurtful words about identifying as LGBTQ and if so what were they?
Not really – I think most people I interact with are LGBTQ friendly, or at least smart enough to stay quiet about it if they’re not.

Have you had any negative experiences with clients where you were discriminated against because of your sexuality?
No – the area I chose to practice in serves a large LGBTQ community and clients are some of my most important allies.

Is what ways does the professional need to evolve for this issue?
Advocating for legal protection in all areas could open up the ability to practice in rural counties (ex: the Equality Act). It’s still legal to be fired for being LGBTQ in Georgia (and MANY other states) unless a local ordinance has been passed saying otherwise.

Do you feel like you can show your true identity at work? If so, what does that look like for you?
I do. My practice community is diverse and accepting. My family is welcomed at all events and something talked about frequently. I speak freely to clients about my wife and son, knowing if there ended up being a problem, my practice owner would have my back.

Have you found any legal hurdles for your family, particularly when it comes to benefits?
Because we were able to be married legally, the benefits allowed for heterosexual couples have been extended with no issue to us. The only legal issues we’ve had
to try to navigate is ensuring guardianship of our son goes to my wife, should I pass away. Because I birthed him, even though she is listed on the birth certificate, a judge could rule he is placed with someone else upon my death if they saw fit. A step-parent adoption is something we had to look into to ensure this horrible situation did not occur.

What additional challenges did you encounter in the profession when you became a mother?
The hardest part of veterinary medicine while being a mother is the devotion of time. I was midway through clinics when my son was born, which the school worked with me completely. However, coming back to clinical life meant days where I never saw my baby at all – I’d be gone from 6:30am to 7:30pm and he was in bed already. That was unbelievably hard. Once I graduated and working hours were more manageable, our amount of time increased dramatically.

In what ways does the profession need to evolve in regards to motherhood?
Striking a better balance between work and outside life is crucial to having a family. Not staying late after hours, having flexibility when a child is sick, and not having on call is a lifesaver for me. Paid maternity leave is also a huge barrier to taking off the time you desperately need, all while balancing the large student loan debt load.

This article was taken from the 2021 fall edition of “The GA Vet” magazine.