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Wellbeing provides Affirmation

April 26, 2018

It feels good be affirmed that you are on the right path, focused on the solutions.

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 5th annual Veterinary Wellbeing Summit in Chicago earlier in the month. The atmosphere was collaborative and hopeful.

Nearly 200 participants from various aspects of veterinary medicine were in attendance: University Deans, veterinary technicians working within both universities and private practices, mental health professionals, veterinary students, practice owners and managers. I believe this is what paradise looks like; diverse, inclusive, networking, supportive and solution-oriented.

The previous Summits have clearly identified problems related to veterinary team wellbeing. Conversations revolved around the suicide rate, perfectionism, isolation, mental illness and fatigue (all sorts of fatigue!).

This Summit began to shift to solutions. LOVE IT!

The conversations of this month’s Wellbeing Summit revolved around the benefits of telling your story, expressing your needs, the powerful impact of positivity and demystifying the services provided by mental health professionals. AWESOME!

A few slides hit home for me.

Be the Change

Dr. Jen Brandt suggests:

  1. Get your own wellbeing on track (quite the challenge right out of the gate!)
  2. Consult a life coach or counselor
  3. Take suicide prevention training (Question, Persuade and Refer)
  4. Prioritize diversity and inclusion
  5. Eliminate barriers to wellbeing / tackle stress
  6. Hire people who care about wellbeing, diversity and inclusion

Positive Psychology-Happiness Advantage

Dr. Mark Stetter encourages:

  1. Journaling
  2. Write down 3 positive experiences daily
  3. Exercise
  4. Participate in mindfulness / meditation
  5. Acts of random kindness

Defining Safety Culture in Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Heather Fowler’s slide started by defining culture as the set of values, beliefs, attitudes, “ways of doing things,” etc. held by a group.  Then she boldly stated that often in veterinary medicine the culture around safety actually encourages risky behavior.

How right she is! “Whatever you do, don’t let go!” This essentially declares that you should hold on even if you feel you are in danger. 31% of survey respondents were either taught or were told to “protect the vet at all costs.” This tells the team member that “you are not worth your value.” Uuugghhh. I see a Blog on this topic BREWING!

I left the Summit feeling affirmed that I was on the right path in supporting veterinary team members by fundamentally strengthening their wellbeing. I continue to address these issues in many ways such as creating Self-Care Tips for the veterinary professional, networking with life coaches and counselors, supplying resources in hiring for culture, encouraging positive thinking (I believe I have been described as Pollyanna a time or two) and helping team members understand that safety is a team sport.

One way you can participate is by joining our closed Facebook page, Veterinary Teams Living Well. Here we encourage networking to support veterinary careers, health and wellbeing.

Thanks goes to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), Zoetis, Banfield Pet Hospital and AAEP for sponsoring and coordinating a dynamic Summit! I look forward to the next one! Stay tuned as resources become available from the Summit. I will send your way.

Yours in Wellbeing,

Rebecca Rose, CVT